'Potential' for Lidl grocery store to come to Bel Air, Harford County official says

There is “potential” Lidl could open a store in Bel Air as part of its regional expansion plan, a Harford County official said Tuesday.

The German-based grocery store is nearing completion of a new store in Aberdeen and has identified Bel Air as a market it would like to enter.

“Lidl opened a distribution center to the north with plans to build a significant number of stores in our region,” Harford County Director of Community and Economic Development Len Parrish said Tuesday night at the Harford County Council meeting. “They have not yet identified the additional stores, but the potential we have heard about is a store here in Bel Air.”

Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for Harford County Government, said the county doesn’t have any further information.

“They did express interest in opening a store in Bel Air, but we have no information about a location they’ve found or a deal that’s ready to be announced,” Mumby said Wednesday. “But it’s a market they’ve targeted for the future.”

The discussion came up at Tuesday’s meeting, where resolutions were introduced to provide property and income tax credits for eight businesses investing in Harford County, including Lidl, which is getting ready to open the store within Aberdeen City Limits.

Lidl is part of the Greater Aberdeen/Havre de Grace Enterprise Zone; it received approval for the tax credits last month from the city of Aberdeen.

The county credits for Lidl and the other seven businesses could be approved at the next council meeting on Tuesday.

The Aberdeen/Havre de Grace Zone, which encompasses 9,720 acres, is one of two in the County. The other is the Edgewood/Joppa Enterprise Zone, which includes 3,946 acres.

The purpose of enterprise zones is to “encourage investment in distressed areas by offering development incentives in return for job creation and capital investment,” Parrish said.

The incentives can help businesses expand or attract new businesses to “areas that otherwise might not have gotten this investment,” he said.

Businesses that are approved for inclusion in the zone receive a 10-year tax credit on the new capital investment, whether it be a renovation, expansion or new building. The credit is 80 percent of the eligible assessment in each of the first five years and then decreases each year to 70 percent, 60 percent, 50 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent in the 10th year. They pay 100 percent of their property taxes after that.

A one-time income tax credit is provided for each qualified new employee filing a newly created position in an enterprise zone or a one-time credit for each qualified new employee in an enterprise zone focus area, Parrish said.

Requirements for the credit in the Edgewood/Joppa zone include a minimum capital investment of $50,000 and minimum job creation of five new full-time jobs.

In the Aberdeen/Havre de Grace zone, credits are awarded for a minimum capital investment of $75,000 and two new jobs for a business with 10 or fewer employees or a minimum capital investment of $125,000 and five new jobs for a business with 11 or more employees.

Lidl Grocery Store, at 621 S. Philadelphia Blvd., is making an $8 million capital investment in a new, 25,647-square-foot building and creating at least 35 jobs.

In addition to Lidl, companies applying for the tax credit include:

Ray’s Body Works, 1113-1115 S. Mountain Road in Joppa, which is spending $175,000 on a 2,934-square-foot addition that will add two new jobs.

AGCO, at 103 Fulfillment Drive in Trimble Business Park in Edgewood owned by TA Realty, ran out of space at its existing facility and is spending $4.4 million for a 140,000-square-foot warehouse that will generate 40 new jobs, Parrish said.

“This will allow them to stay and there and grow further in Harford County,” he said.

TA Realty is also building a 210-square-foot spec warehouse in the same business park, at 102 Fulfillment Drive. More than 50 new jobs are expected to be created, Parrish said.

Art Helton Properties is investing $700,000 to renovate the former Moose Lodge at 102 N. Rogers St. in Aberdeen for a second Prost German Restaurant. At least 10 new jobs will be created.

Preston Franklin LLC’s capital investment in a 249,600-square-foot warehouse at 505 Advantage Way in Perryman — to house PrimeSource Building Products — is $11.8 million. Ten new jobs will be generated.

In Eastgate 95 Industrial Park, PR/MRPI Eastgate C LLC is investing $24.21 million at 1000 Woodley Road in Aberdeen on a 600,000-square-foot warehouse for The Container Store that will generate more than 150 new jobs.

“It’s interesting to see some of the large investments in some of the properties and how large they are,” Council member Joe Woods said, pointing out that some of the larger projects are only creating 10 or so jobs.

“It’s amazing the automation is doing the work for us,” Woods said.

Automation in the manufacturing and distribution world has changed many of the jobs, Parrish said.

“There may be less jobs, but they’re more technical in nature,” he said. “The quality of the jobs is very good and I also think it’s generating more jobs in the future in the tech field.”

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