Annual broker tour aims to bring business to county
— Two coach buses filled with commercial real estate brokers and county and state economic development officials toured six commercial/industrial parks Wednesday in hopes of sparking future business deals that could spell jobs for Cecil County.
The tour started with break-
fast at Hollywood Casino Perryville where brokers learned about local and state business incentives, location advantages, research proximity, an incubator program and workforce training grants.
The State Commerce Department’s Business and Industry Development Managing Director Steve Pennington offered help from his staff for businesses to connect with services. Pennington, who spent 35 years in the private
sector telecommunications industry, has been on the job for 14 months and said he was looking forward to finding out more about the county during the tour.
“The state is not complacent,” he said. “We’re working hard to change the culture at state government to do a better job at outreach and helping business owners navigate the system.”
Under Gov. Larry Hogan, the state’s commerce department has created new programs for existing businesses to help them grow and expand. A package of new business incentives is now under review by the administration as it prepares next year’s budget.
Pennington told Harlan Williams, a county real estate broker, that his office will fully engage with any local broker to help put together a project.
Cecil Director of Economic Development Lisa Webb said she is in frequent conversations with state commerce officials.
“We collaborate often, even at times late at night,” she said.
Webb’s staff put together a detailed notebook filled with listings and information on all available commercial property for sale or lease in the county and gave it to each broker Wednesday.
“I was more excited during this tour than usual because we were able to actually see projects underway,” said Webb, referring to the Lidl warehouse and the Principio Commerce Center. “I told the brokers they are seeing the beginnings of business growth here today, but I encouraged them to come back next year to see the results.”
Business parks and property at Bainbridge, Principio off Route 40, Peninsula off Route 272, North East, Triumph off Blue Ball Road and the I-95/ Route 279 interchange were part of the tour, but the group only got off the bus for additional information at Bainbridge and Principio.
The other spots were discussed on the bus and written information was provided to the nearly 50 brokers on the tour.
Tour participants got an onsite briefing from Bainbridge Development Corporation Chairman Michael Pugh, who encouraged brokers to bring him offers.
It was the first time Pugh could actually tell brokers he has “shovel-ready” parcels. Bainbridge can now deliver up to 10,000 gallons a day for water and sewer users, and up to 125,000 gallons a day in 12 to 18 months.
“I think brokers were surprised to hear that news,” Webb added.
Pugh told the brokers that the county council will vote next month on a budget amendment that will allow design of a new wastewater treatment plant on the Bainbridge property. He also noted that Artesian has agreed to supply water to the property within six months of a signed contract.
“We will welcome largescale users eventually,” he said. “The design should be done by next April.”
Pugh said Bainbridge is very interested in getting deals done, particularly for the first project, which he called a ‘pioneer’ that would spur additional redevelopment.
In responding to broker questions, Pugh said the property has two rail right-of-ways, but no actually rail right now. It also has fiberoptic cable connections available, and the company will consider both leases and purchases, he said.
At the next stop in Principio Business Park on Route 40, brokers met with Mark Chubb, of Colliers International, and Tyler Boykin, with JJL (Jones, Lang and Lasalle), the two brokers that are partnering to market a 1.15 million-square-foot distribution warehouse that is expected to be done by spring.
“We’ve had a lot of interest already in this building from prospects in e-commerce, retail and consumer products,” Chubb said.
The warehouse, known as Principio Commerce Center, is under construction. It will include 2,000 parking spaces and features a cross-dock design with up to 216 dock doors, 190-foot truck courts and 283 trailer stalls. The site also includes more than 15 acres of land for expansion.
Principio Business Park, owned by Stewart Associates, already has several big tenants, such as Restoration Hardware, General Electric and Lidl.
“We’re seeing a lot of action here lately, it’s a very exciting time,” Chubb said.
The tour buses took brokers past several more industrial sites in Cecil County before getting lunch at Schaefer’s Canal House restaurant in Chesapeake City. That’s when Maryland economist Anirban Basu spoke to the group about the local economy and Cecil County’s strategic location.
Construction is underway on a 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse facility in Principio Business Park. The Principio Commerce Center is being marketed by a Colliers and JLL team. It is owned by Trammell Crow and Diamond Realty Investments.
Bainbridge Development Corporation Chairman Michael Pugh tells real estate brokers Wednesday that he’s ready to entertain offers for projects on the 1,200-acre former U.S. Navy base.