Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced his support of an initiative that would allow one of the County’s largest employer’s, Coastal Sunbelt Produce, to remain in Howard and expand its operations.
Seeking to build a new headquarters and create efficiencies by co-locating some operations, Coastal Sunbelt has been in search of property that would accommodate its needs. Many of the properties the company explored were outside of Howard County.
County Executive Ulman and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) worked to identify a site within Howard that would meet the company’s objectives. The preferred location is in North Laurel, near the Laurel Race Track. The County Executive is backing a necessary change to County zoning regulations that would allow the company to operate on the land that has been identified.
The amendment awaits final Howard County Council approval, allowing the transaction to be completed.
“It takes a hands-on approach to preserve and grow jobs,” County Executive Ulman said. “Coastal Sunbelt is a terrific business, and we need them to stay and prosper in Howard County. I’m glad we were able to figure out a way that allows this expansion to go forward.”
“Job creation and economic growth is one of our top priorities,” said Council Chairman Calvin B. Ball. “I believe this plan is good for the residents of Howard County.”
“Coastal Sunbelt is a good neighbor and we need to find ways to keep them in the area,” said County Council member Jen Terrasa, who represents District 3, which includes the proposed site.
Coastal Sunbelt has been an active leader in the North Laurel community, particularly with its support of the area’s limited English-speaking residents. The company has provided job opportunities for many of those residents, and through an innovative partnership with Bollman Bridge Elementary School, encourages those employees to learn English and become better integrated into American life. The company’s efforts earned it a 2012 American Success Award from FIRN, the Foreign Born Information and Referral Network.
Coastal Sunbelt employs about 1,000 permanent full-time employees in the county and could add several hundred new jobs after the real estate transaction is finalized.
“It took a lot of work to get to this point, and the Economic Development Authority is thrilled that this deal is going to get done,” said HCEDA CEO Lawrence F. Twele.
The Howard County Economic Development Authority is a public-private partnership whose primary goal is to promote economic growth and stability by supporting existing businesses, targeting new businesses, and attracting corporate/regional headquarters. The Authority also maintains several programs aimed at the special needs of small and agricultural businesses. Additionally, the Authority strives to preserve the distinctive quality of life in Howard County. The Authority can be reached at www.hceda.org.