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Recycler to build plant in Kent


A major German recycler will turn the Eastern Shore hamlet of Worton into its U.S. headquarters and build a $12 million factory that will turn waste paper into highway construction materials, state and Kent County authorities are set to announce today.

In an economic development score that could eventually bring 225 manufacturing jobs to a town with a population well under 1,000, Cellulose-Fuellstoff-Fabrik (CFF) has agreed to have 18 to 25 workers there by next summer. It has told state and county officials it would complete the $12 million investment and have 80 full-time employees at work by 1998.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who wooed company officials in Germany during a trade mission in June, and Felix Rettenmaier, president of the Dusseldorf-based company, are to announce the deal today at the State House in Annapolis.

"This project advances several key Maryland objectives," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of economic and employment development.

"It brings jobs and investment to a part of the state that needs both; it advances our objective of internationalizing the state economy and building exports; it brings to Maryland a key player in the emerging environmental field, which is one of our strategic objectives, and it adds substantial traffic through the port of Baltimore," he said.

For Kent County, with a manufacturing work force of 1,000 people, the location of a manufacturing facility with 225 jobs would come as a substantial boon. The county had an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent in September compared with 6.2 percent for the state.

CFF is Europe's biggest commercial paper recycler. In Germany, it exports the large majority of the cellular fiber it produces.

The fiber, derived from waste paper, is sold for use mainly in highway paving materials, adhesives and detergents.

The company also uses virgin cellulose to make powder for foods and pharmaceuticals, and its longer-term plans call for adding that work, with additional jobs, to the Worton plant after some years.

"Aside from the jobs and an unusually large capital investment, one of the benefits of this deal is that the environment wins several ways -- by recycling paper so that it doesn't go into landfills, by grinding the paper rather than using some process that might create more wastes, and by creating a fiber that replaces materials that otherwise would be dug out of the ground," said J. O. K Walsh, director of Chesapeake Country, a nonprofit corporation that helps Kent and three other Eastern Shore counties attract investment.

To attract the company, Maryland provided $1.175 million in public funding, mainly for land acquisition. That included a $125,000 grant and a $400,000 loan to Kent County for infrastructure improvements and a $650,000 land-acquisition grant from the state's "Sunny Day" fund, which gives the Department of Economic and Employment Development quick-response money to help attract companies here.

"It came down to Maryland and Virginia, and at one point the company called to inform us that Maryland was out of the running," Mr. Walsh said. "Fortunately, we had already been working on a new proposal that provided help with land costs in order to offset the lower utility costs they were seeing in Virginia."

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