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Officials skip details, co-sign firm's loan Unigen drug company is Westminster-bound but little else known; 'Excellent, exciting deal'; Owners, history, product line among missing information


A story in Thursday's Carroll County edition incorrectly stated that the County Commissioners have signed on to guarantee a (( $1.2 million state loan for Unigen Pharmaceutical Inc. The commissioners agreed to the proposal but the resolution authorizing it has not been drafted. The company expects to employ about 125 people within 10 years.

The Sun regrets the error.

This is much is known about Unigen Pharmaceutical Inc., the start-up biotechnology company that will move to Westminster next year: the County Commissioners have co-signed on a $1.2 million state loan.

But short of assurterday to divulge the company's owners, its product line or its history.

"They asked that their identity not be revealed," Mr. Lyburn said after the commissioners agreed to guarantee a $1.2 million loan to Unigen from the Maryland Industrial Land Act.

Mr. Lyburn said Unigen, "a manufacturer of high-quality pharmaceutical products," would operate in a 30,000-square-foot building to be built on an unspecified 3.5-acre site at Westminster Air Business Park.

He said Unigen plans to hire 20 people when it opens by the middle of next year, and hopes to employ up to 145 within 10 years.

"This is the first biotech firm ever in Carroll County, and we hope it brings others to the county," Mr. Lyburn said.

To bring the company here, the county essentially agreed to be a co-signer for an unestablished firm.

Mr. Lyburn said Unigen was investing $6 million in the business, while the state agreed to contribute the $1.2 million.

Unigen expects to pay off the loan -- at an annual interest rate of 5.63 percent -- within seven years, Mr. Lyburn said.

Should the company default, the county would be first to retain possession of Unigen's building, the economic development director said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell also declined to discuss details of Unigen's ownership or background.

"Where I'm coming from -- and it's happened sometimes somewhere -- when a deal's in the paper, the company gets angry," he said. "I'd really not like to be the one with my head in the noose."

Darlene Frank, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Business and Economic Development, did not return phone calls seeking more information about Unigen.

Besides the Unigen loan, the commissioners also approved a $100,000 loan to help defray the moving expenses for an Anne Arundel County cabinetmaker who relocated in New Windsor this year.

The loan -- $10,000 from Carroll County and $90,000 from the state -- was approved for Vartta Industries, which employs 55 people in an 80,000-square-foot facility.

The loan, at an annual interest rate of 5 percent, is to be paid back within five years, according to loan documents.

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