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Manufacturing 130 jobs for Md.; Plant: BD Biosciences will celebrate the opening of its $6.5 million facility in Sparks with a ceremony Monday.


BD Biosciences formally ushers in a new $6.5 million plant that is adding more than 100 jobs in Baltimore County with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

The company, a division of Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based BD Inc., formerly known as Becton Dickinson, built the plant in Sparks after its purchase of a rival company, Detroit-based Difco Laboratories Inc., in 1997. BD closed four Difco plants in the Midwest.

Michael M. Meehan, vice president and general manager of BD Biosciences, said the company decided to consolidate production here for several reasons: The company manufactures other health care products in Sparks and Hunt Valley; the large number of universities in the area provide a steady stream of employees; and the location is near the port of Baltimore -- an important consideration since 45 percent of the products are shipped overseas.

Meehan said 105 of the 130 new jobs are in manufacturing and pay about $12 an hour. The remaining 25 jobs pay between $30,000 and $60,000 annually. With the new workers, BD employs 1,700 people in Maryland.

The new plant, which revved up to full capacity last month, makes dehydrated bacteriological culture medium, a powder used to help grow and analyze bacteria.

"If someone wants to do bacteriology, they can buy this powdered raw material, which is like instant soup, and mix it in water and when it's reconstituted and sterilized it can be used to grow bacteria," Meehan said. "It can be used for food testing, growing cells for pharmaceutical production or medical diagnosis."

BD Inc., which employs 23,000 people worldwide, earned $276 million last year on sales of $3.4 billion. In the first quarter, it had net income of $75 million and revenue of $859 million.

The state and county each provided about $25,000 of job training and recruitment assistance for the new plant in addition to state job-creation tax credits.

"We didn't have to invest a lot of financial resources to make it happen; we have a long-term relationship," said Vernon Thompson, assistant secretary for regional development at the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County's Department of Economic Development, said her agency's main contribution was to make sure BD could get the plant up and running quickly by making sure processes were completed in a timely manner.

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