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Ellicott City company weighs building plant in Hampstead More than 200 jobs would be created


A 77-year-old Howard County manufacturer of canvas and plastic products is negotiating to build a more-than-100,000-square-foot production facility in Carroll County.

People familiar with the negotiations say CR Daniels Inc. of Ellicott City is interested in building on 100 acres of county-owned land in Hampstead in exchange for unspecified concessions from state and county governments.

The move, which could bring more than 200 jobs, would be one of the biggest boosts for Carroll's industrial base in years.

The company, a Howard County fixture since 1918, needs to expand, but economic development and company officials aren't sure whether it will do that at its Ellicott City site, in Hampstead or in another state.

The current location is not a likely candidate for expansion, said Richard W. Story, executive director of the Howard County Department of Economic Development. The company needs to expand by more than 20,000 square feet to keep up with "a tremendous demand" for its products, Mr. Story said.

He said his first priority would be to keep the company in Howard County but that if that is not possible, he will work to keep it in Central Maryland.

Cindy Parr, spokeswoman for the Carroll County commissioners, said the company also is considering an offer from Tennessee.

Tennessee economic development officials said they had not heard of CR Daniels' interest.

"They could be working with local officials somewhere in the state," said Leigh Wieland, director of advertising and communications for the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Gary B. Abel, CR Daniels' president and chief executive officer, said, "It's too premature to discuss it, or really comment on it."

All three Carroll commissioners have referred to the deal in the past few weeks as an example of how county economic development efforts are improving.

"I want to plead with you not to print this story about CR Daniels," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said Friday, expressing fears that Carroll might lose the deal.

Mr. Dell said Jack Lyburn, the county economic development director, had asked the commissioners to "keep mum" about the project so that it "doesn't fall apart."

Mr. Lyburn said this month that publicity could damage the deal because CR Daniels management hadn't talked to its employees about the possible move.

He said the deal was to have remained confidential, even though "significant" state and county dollars are on the table.

"I've learned my lesson, and that's not to tell the county commissioners of any prospect activity," Mr. Lyburn said then.

He did not return phone calls last week.

Dun's Market Identifiers, a listing of U.S. corporations, says CR Daniels was founded in 1918 and has annual sales of about $20 million. It has more than 450 employees, 225 of them at the 160,000-square-foot Ellicott City plant.

The company has long been a defense supplier. It has provided laundry bags for the Army and during the Persian Gulf war manufactured more than 8,200 body bags for the Defense Department.

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