ViPS to keep base in Towson

The Baltimore Sun

Towson-based ViPS Inc., a health software company that was acquired by General Dynamics Information Technology Inc. last month, is keeping its headquarters in Towson and hopes to expand there during coming years as part of the redevelopment of that area, Baltimore County economic development officials said yesterday.

The company, which employs 600 people, more than 500 of them in Towson, signed a seven-year lease extension for its offices at 1 W. Pennsylvania Ave.

The owner of the office tower, Towson Commons LLC, will receive business retention loans totaling $700,000 - $250,000 from the county's Department of Economic Development and $450,000 from the state's Department of Business and Economic Development. The money will be used toward more than $1.6 million in renovations designed to accommodate the growing company. ViPS leases 105,000 square feet, or about six floors, and will add about another floor.

The county is making the loan to help keep ViPS an economic anchor in Towson, said Stan Jacobs, chief financial officer of the economic development office.

General Dynamics Information Technology, a subsidiary of Falls Church, Va.-based defense company General Dynamics Corp., acquired ViPS from HLTH Corp. for $225 million. General Dynamics said the purchase was designed to help build its existing health business. ViPS, which also has operations in Woodlawn, acts as a contractor to customers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, providing services such as assistance on retiree drug benefits and drug data processing.

"We certainly anticipate future growth," said General Dynamics spokesman Mark Meudt. He did not have specific future employment numbers.

Towson Commons LLC is an affiliate of Western Development Corp., the developer that is renovating the tower and also plans to redevelop Towson Commons, an adjacent retail complex on York Road that has struggled with vacancies.

The redevelopment at Towson Commons is part of more than $700 million in new private investment under way downtown that includes plans for or construction of new apartments and condos, offices and entertainment centers, the economic development agency said.

Projects include the 113,500-square-foot expansion of Towson Town Center mall and the planned Towson Circle Entertainment Complex, which will include a movie theaters, shops and restaurants on a lot behind the Towson Circle retail complex at York and Joppa roads.

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