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Marada's planned expansion likely to double size, but fall short of hopes


Marada Industries Inc. is negotiating with government officials to double the size of its manufacturing plant across Route 97 from the Carroll County Air Business Park in Westminster, a company spokesman said Friday.

The expansion of the auto parts maker's facility would add 100 to 150 jobs and cost about $2 million, said Graham Orr, executive vice president of corporate development for Magna International, Marada's parent company outside Toronto.

"Negotiations are in progress with the state government," he said.

Curt Matthews, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development, said officials there would not comment.

Two Carroll officials said last week that the expansion was certain. Asked about it Friday, Commissioner Richard T. Yates said he had been told the deal was final.

"I knew it was a plus for the county," he said.

County Budget Director Steven D. Powell said Thursday at a public meeting concerning Carroll's budget deficit that Marada planned the expansion.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said Friday that "negotiations are going on" and that he couldn't say more.

County officials had hoped for a larger expansion than the 40,000 square feet that Marada plans. In negotiations during the past two years, the company had said it might build a $16 million facility and double the number of employees in Westminster.

Marada now employs about 250 people in two buildings -- an 87,000-square-foot plant in the Air Business Park and a 40,000-square-foot facility on an 80-acre parcel across Route 97.

Marada does not need more than another 40,000 square feet, Mr. Orr said, because the company did not win a General Motors Corp. contract for which it had bid. "The expansion has been scaled back," he said.

In the past two years, state, county and Westminster city officials tried to persuade Marada to build a larger plant by offering the company money for infrastructure and a 2.5-mile rail spur.

Paul Denton, president of Maryland Midland Railway Co. in Union Bridge, said Friday that he learned in late February that Marada would not build a large expansion.

"I just can't tell you how disappointed I was," said Mr. Denton, who also is chairman of the county Economic Development Commission.

Marada would not need a rail spur without the larger expansion, he said.

The plan had been to build a rail spur from the Marada plant on the east side of Route 97 to Random House Inc. on Hahn Road and connect with Maryland Midland tracks nearby at Hahn's of Westminster.

"It wouldn't have cost Marada a dime for the spur," Mr. Denton said. The spur would have cost $6 million to $7 million.

"It would have been an enormous amount of new business for us," he said, referring to Maryland Midland.

The railway, which now employs 28 people, would have hired four to six more employees, he said.

Westminster Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard said he expects to receive Marada's site plans this week. When the company built its existing 40,000-square-foot building in 1992, it received permission to build a second phase of equal size, he said.

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