Jack & Jill Ice Cream Co. will pull in excess of 100 jobs from Baltimore early next year as part of an expansion and consolidation in Columbia.
The ice cream maker's move to the Rouse Co.'s three-building Gateway Commerce Center project marks the latest in a series of city businesses to exit for the suburbs because of consolidation. Most recently, AAA Mid-Atlantic Inc. combined its Baltimore and Delaware regional headquarters in Elkton.
In the case of Jack & Jill, the company will more than double its size when it consolidates locations because of a recent purchase of Embassy Dairy's ice cream operation. It was unable to find a suitable city location. In addition to its own brands, the company also distributes premium ice cream and yogurt brands, such as Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. and Dannon Co. Inc.
Jack & Jill is located at 3509 E. North Ave.; Embassy Dairy is at 1600 S. Monroe St.
"I think this transaction reinforces the Baltimore-Washington corridor as the premier distribution location in this region," said Matthew J. Ryan, a vice president of real estate brokerage firm Casey & Associates Inc., who represented Jack & Jill.
Jack & Jill's lease with Rouse for 84,000 square feet of the former General Electric Appliance Park building is valued at $5.85 million through 2011. Other tenants in Gateway, a 440-acre former manufacturing hub that Rouse bought from GE for $40 million in late 1990, include GATX Logistics and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Repeated attempts to contact Jack & Jill officials, who held a long afternoon staff meeting to explain the move internally, were unsuccessful. A Rouse executive involved in the deal declined to comment.
As part of the transaction, Jack & Jill will invest nearly $2 million to install a 30,000-square-foot freezer.
That figure may be partially offset, however, by employee training and relocation money provided by Howard County's economic development authority, depending on Jack & Jill's attrition.
"We're happy that we could provide a real estate solution to their problem of a central location," said Richard W. Story, executive director of Howard County's economic development authority.
City economic development officials said they were unaware of Jack & Jill's pending move.
"Decisions such as this are often made corporately, without any input from us," said Barbara Bonnell, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Development Corp.