State denies rescue effort afoot for Parks Sausage


Maryland's top economic official denied a report yesterday that the state is drafting a bailout of Parks Sausage Co., the largest black-owned manufacturing company in Baltimore.

"We are not in the process of developing a financial package for the company. We don't have enough facts to do that," said Economic Development Secretary James T. Brady.

Parks Sausage announced this month that it is seeking an investor or buyer to provide the cash needed to pay off mounting debts and to finance growth.

Mr. Brady said he met with Parks Chairman Raymond V. Haysbert Sr. 10 days ago and told him he will need detailed financial information from the company before he can consider providing state assistance.

Until then, Mr. Brady said, he cannot determine whether the 44-year-old company qualifies for a loan, a sale-lease-back arrangement or any other type of taxpayer-sponsored aid.

Parks Sausage is working on providing Mr. Brady with the data he needs, said company President Reginald Haysbert. With "adequate aid," the company could grow significantly in the next two to three years, he said.

Both he and Mr. Brady denied an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that the state already was drafting a rescue plan.

They also denied any similarity -- alluded to in the article -- between Parks' situation and a controversial attempt by the Glendening administration to rescue another business in May.

In the earlier case, state officials proposed a $1.5 million taxpayer-funded bailout of Stephens Engineering Co., a failing Prince George's County firm owned by a supporter of Gov. Parris N. Glendening. The administration withdrew the proposal after it was attacked by Republicans, who said the business did not qualify for a state grant.

Raymond Haysbert of Parks also was a Glendening supporter, joining the Republicans for Glendening Committee last fall. But Reginald Haysbert said that fact is irrelevant to the company's interest in state help. "A majority of Baltimore City supported [Mr. Glendening]," he said.

Mr. Haysbert said his company's long-term prospects are brighter than those of Stephens Engineering, which suffered when some federal contracts dried up. "We've never depended on the public sector for our revenue," he said.

Mr. Brady said Parks' outlook will play a vital role in the state's decision whether to help it. "We want to be helpful when there is a payback to the state, and the payback is in terms of the long-term viability of the company," he said.

State Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Budget and Taxation Committee, said she fears that if the state does not help Parks, it would be bought by a company that would move its 220 jobs out of Maryland.

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