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Lawmakers Approve $9.5M Grant To Bechtel

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A panel of Maryland lawmakers voted 19-4 on Thursday to approve a $9.5 million grant to keep Bechtel Power Corp. from moving out of Frederick.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development made the request at a meeting of the state’s Legislative Policy Committee in Annapolis to retain 1,250 full-time jobs with an average salary of $125,000 in the state for seven years. The money will come from the state’s Sunny Day Fund, an economic development fund.

“Our number one job is supporting private sector investment and building private sector confidence in Maryland’s economy,” House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said in a statement. “The Sunny Day Fund was created for extraordinary economic development opportunities, like Bechtel. I am pleased that we can make this strategic investment in a growing area of our state to retain 1,250 jobs.”

Christian Johansson, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said the company wanted to be closer to customers in Washington. He said the company also considered proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

Johansson said the money will be recouped in 16 months through money that would have been lost in taxes.

But Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, a Calvert County Republican on the panel, said Maryland’s tax system is really at the root of the problem, because it scares away businesses to more tax-friendly Virginia.

“We’re not fixing anything,” O’Donnell said. “We’re just papering it over with taxpayer money and giving it away to corporations.”

Under the grant, Bechtel has agreed to keep 1,250 full-time jobs in Frederick for seven years. There are another 625 jobs that could still move. The company provides design and construction for energy generation.

“We are pleased to retain our Power business in Frederick,” said Bill Dudley, Bechtel’s president and chief operating officer. “We first moved to Frederick in 1999 and have found it to be a welcome community to locate our Power business’ headquarters.”

The company also announced that is has not yet finalized plans for the location of its non-power-related operations.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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