Federalsburg firm awarded ci­ta­tion by Gov. Larry Ho­gan

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

— Gov. Larry Ho­gan vis­ited Crys­tal Steel Fabri­ca­tors in Federalsburg on Thurs­day, Oct. 18, to present a gov­er­nor’s ci­ta­tion cel­e­brat­ing the busi­ness’s open­ing and its role in bring­ing high-speed fiber op­tic in­ter­net ac­cess to the Frank M. Adams In­dus­trial Park.

“To­day’s event is just an­other shin­ing ex­am­ple that Mary­land truly is open for busi­ness,” Ho­gan said.

The Federalsburg fa­cil­ity, the com­pany’s fifth lo­ca­tion, opened in the in­dus­trial park in 2016. To­day, it pro­duces more than 500 tons of steel a month, used in con­struc­tion projects up and down the

East Coast. The cur­rent work­force of more than 70 skilled em­ploy­ees is ex­pected to grow to 120.

Pres­i­dent Bill Lo, who founded the Del­mar, Del.-based com­pany with his dad, Jeff Lo, in 1992, said the com­pany al­ready had built ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties in Penn­syl­va­nia, Ten­nessee and the Philip­pines when, about four years ago, it needed to ex­pand fur­ther.

He was con­sid­er­ing sim­ply adding onto the Del­mar fa­cil­ity, he said, when Ho­gan called him and en­cour­aged him to look into a va­cant fa­cil­ity in Federalsburg.

“It was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity here in Federalsburg,” Lo said, “with a great se­ries of build­ings, a lot of land and room for ex­pan­sion.”

Ho­gan said he told Lo his ad­min­is­tra­tion was fix­ing all the prob­lems that pre­vi­ously had made Mary­land less busi­ness-friendly.

“I told him it was a fan­tas­tic place to do busi­ness and this is where we wanted him to be,” Ho­gan said. “I’m so pleased you de­cided to ex­pand here in Mary­land and open this in­cred­i­ble fa­cil­ity here in Caro­line County.”

Lo thanked the Town of Federalsburg, Caro­line County, U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md.-1st., and Ho­gan for their help in get­ting his com­pany into the Federalsburg fa­cil­ity.

He thanked Ho­gan specif­i­cally for sup­port­ing ini­tia­tives that have made Mary­land a more at­trac­tive place for busi­nesses.

Ho­gan said one of his prom­ises when he took of­fice in 2015 was to do ex­actly that.

“We just had the best year for busi­ness in Mary­land in more than a decade and the best year for job growth in 15 years — we went from los­ing 100,000 jobs to gain­ing 100,000 jobs,” Ho­gan said. “We now have more busi­nesses open and more peo­ple work­ing than at any other time in the his­tory of our state.

“Just be­fore I be­came gov­er­nor, our over­all eco­nomic per­for­mance was 49th out of 50 states, and now we’re in the top 10.”

Among those ini­tia­tives were tax cred­its for which busi­nesses like Lo’s are el­i­gi­ble, Ho­gan said.

“The More Jobs for Mary­lan­ders Act is help­ing com­pa­nies cre­ate more jobs in places where we need that most, like right here in Caro­line County,” Ho­gan said.

Deb­bie Bow­den, di­rec­tor of the Caro­line Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, said in ad­di­tion to bring­ing dozens of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs to the area, Crys­tal Steel, along with the Town of Federalsburg, Caro­line County, the State of Mary­land and Bay Coun­try Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, brought fiber op­tic in­ter­net ac­cess to all the busi­nesses on its side of the rail­road in the in­dus­trial park.

“If Crys­tal Steel had not come to Federalsburg, it may have been sev­eral years be­fore we were able to get the fiber across to Blind In­dus­tries or the two re­main­ing lots in the in­dus­trial park,” Bow­den said.

Drew Van Dopp, vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic part­ner­ships with the Mary­land Broad­band Co­op­er­a­tive, of which Bay Coun­try Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a mem­ber, said the co­op­er­a­tive was formed in 2006 to bring world-class in­ter­net ser­vices to un­served and un­der­served ar­eas of ru­ral Mary­land.

“We be­lieved by solv­ing the ac­cess prob­lem, we could re­duce the dig­i­tal di­vide and al­low ru­ral busi­nesses, in­sti­tu­tions and com­mu­ni­ties to com­pete on an equal ba­sis with not just the rest of the state, but the world,” Van Dopp said.

Since then, the co­op­er­a­tive and its 100 mem­bers have built a statewide net­work of more than 2,000 miles of fiber op­tic back­bone.

“Bring­ing it to a place like this, that had not pre­vi­ously had the ac­cess it re­quired, is per­ma­nently re­mov­ing a blank space from the map,” Van Dopp said. “This is no longer a blank space, but rather now a modern busi­ness cen­ter where the dig­i­tal di­vide no longer poses lim­i­ta­tions on its po­ten­tial.”

In ad­di­tion to the gov­er­nor’s ci­ta­tion, Lo and his com­pany re­ceived a cer­tifi­cate of special con­gres­sional recog­ni­tion from Har­ris, and ci­ta­tions from the Mary­land Se­nate, Mary­land House of Del­e­gates, Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers and the Town of Federalsburg.

Af­ter Ho­gan cut the rib­bon on the fa­cil­ity, Lo took him on a tour.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Gov. Larry Ho­gan cuts the rib­bon with Crys­tal Steel em­ploy­ees dur­ing his visit to the Federalsburg fac­tory Thurs­day, Oct. 18.

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