Sell­ing Ce­cil

An­nual bro­ker tour aims to bring busi­ness to county

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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-

PER­RYVILLE

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

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.

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