Edgewood has been named one of four new enterprise zones in Maryland, a designation that will mean tax breaks for businesses relocating, expanding or renovating in the eastern Harford County community.
It also means that businesses in the zone, which stretches along the U.S. 40 corridor from Joppatowne on the Harford-Baltimore County line to Route 755, will receive up to $3,000 for each person they hire who is unemployed or underemployed, according to the Marilyn Corbett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.
DEED provides the funds, which are administered by the county and could total millions of dollars if the program works as designed.
"An enterprise zone is a tool a community can use to attract new companies and create new jobs," said Paul Gilbert, director of the county's office of business and economic development. An official announcement of the designation by Gov. Parris N. Glendening is expected tomorrow, he said.
The enterprise zone is needed, Mr. Gilbert said, to stop deterioration in Edgewood before it becomes irreversible.
The program includes funds for low-interest loans for commercial and industrial businesses already in the zone. In its application for the Edgewood enterprise zone designation, Mr. Gilbert said officials outlined an area that includes about 2,500 acres of commercially zoned land, some of the last such land available in the county, Mr. Gilbert said.
The county hopes the incentives will tantalize companies that pay high wages, such as Sunbeam Plastics Inc., which is building a bottle cap plant in Riverside Business Park, and Frito Lay Co., which makes pretzels in Aberdeen. Sunbeam pays about $14 per hour or $560 weekly and Frito Lay pays about $11 per hour or $440 weekly.
"Edgewood is poised to sink into economic decline or to grow. The enterprise zone is a sort of pre-emptive strike that will stop any further deterioration," said Robert N. Santoni Sr., owner of Santoni's Market in Edgewood. He has been involved in the application for the enterprise zone designation.
The other three communities designated as enterprise zones are Waterview Industrial Park in Baltimore City, which was renewed; Fruitland in Wicomico County; and Snow Hill in Worcester County, Ms. Corbett said.