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