County sees uptick in fast-track projects
— Cecil County Director of Economic Development Lisa Webb said there’s been a recent increase in business prospects seeking fast-track approval for permits – although she’s not allowed to announce any names yet.
“Hopefully in a couple of weeks,” Webb said. “All I can say at this point is that three large projects are currently being fast-tracked and others are interested in our fast-track process.”
However, County Councilman Dan Schneckenburger, who is running for county executive, announced the identity of one of the prospects Friday night during a candidate forum sponsored by the Cecil County Chapter of the NAACP.
“We’ve attracted a German company with 250 jobs to Perryville,” Schneckenburger said while telling the audience about his emphasis on economic development.
“I can’t confirm this information due to a signed non-disclosure agreement,” Webb said, adding, “This puts me in an awkward position.”
Later, Schneckenburger confirmed that Lidl, a German supermarket retailer, is going to put in a distribution center in Principio. He said he found out the identity when his employer received a request to bid on some work for this project.
Lidl, according to its website, is launching an expansion in the mid-Atlantic states with retail locations set to go into the region,
including the town of Elkton within the next several months.
A 36,170-square-foot retail grocery store is up for final plat approval Monday night at the town’s planning commission.
The three fast-track projects are all going into Principio Business Park on Route 40. One of the three is a “spec” building without a tenant yet, but the other two have tenants lined up.
Webb said concept designs for the three projects total slightly more than 2.2 million square-feet of new warehousing, manufacturing, office and plant processing space. They also have the potential to create more than 1,800 jobs overtime.
“Two of the projects will be done in phases, adding some jobs right away and others later,” she said. “We’re seeing a surge of prospects and are happy with the effort from our county departments who have been working together to help these prospects
through the fast track process,” Webb said.
Fast-track is a process that Cecil County started more than a decade ago to help job-creating companies cut through approvals faster than normal.
Any project that is expected to create at least 30 new jobs and will occupy at least 30,000 square-feet of new construction qualifies for “fast-track,” according to Webb. Although, the county is somewhat flexible with the requirements for consideration.
“Fast-track’s success is based on cooperation among client, consultants and county officials,” Webb said. “We know time is critical.”
Since its implementation, the fast-track process has approved 20 projects in Cecil County. Some of the previous projects that were fast-tracked here are IKEA, Warwick Mushroom and Restoration Hardware.
For more information about fast-tracking, contact Cecil County Office of Economic Development at 410996-6292 or Cecil County Department of Permits and Inspections at 410-996-5235.
A real estate sign at the entrance to Principio Business Park advertises the availability of 1.2 million square feet.
Marc DiSciullo (center) plays with the MaKey MaKey, which controls a computer with ordinary objects.