BALTIMORE (WJZ) — BMW is expanding its operation in the Baltimore region with the addition of a new 35-acre vehicle distribution center at the Tradepoint Atlantic Terminal in Sparrows Point.

The expansion includes a new 75,000-square foot facility, which is nearly double the size of BMW’s Broening Highway site. Built to process as many as 100,000 vehicles per year, the vehicle distribution center will support more than 125 BMW and MINI dealers across the central and eastern U.S.

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Gov. Larry Hogan was among several state and local officials who joined BMW on Monday for a ceremony to celebrate the state-of-the-art facility’s grand opening and the economic impact it will bring to the region.

“I remember touring Sparrows Point when I was running for governor and coming here when I first got elected—nothing was here,” Hogan recalled. “And here we are seven years later.”

The automaker’s new hub is expected to result in the creation of an estimated 70 jobs. That’s a big deal for BMW because employees say before the facility was built, the company relied on third-party workers.

“For us, this gives us an opportunity to bring our business back in house,” said Bryan Burke, who heads up parts logistics for the automaker. “So it allows us to implement quality and productivity standards. It gives us the ability to bring in our own staff and create our own culture, and create jobs and be able to expand.”

That, in turn, means the company can retain and grow high-caliber employees.

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“That’s what our strategy is,” said Eric Heckerman, BMW’s head of national vehicle distribution centers. “To keep our workforce motivated and keeping them employed with the volume of vehicles we’re bringing through here.”

Besides serving as a distribution hub, work done at the new facility will include vehicle inspections and repair, accessory installation, vehicle programming and maintenance, all with the goal of ensuring vehicle quality.

Over the past seven-and-a-half years, Sen. Chris Van Hollen said, Tradepoint Atlantic has worked with the Port of Baltimore to reinvigorate Sparrows Point, which was once home to the world’s largest steel mill.

“This new BMW distribution center will bring more jobs to Baltimore and contribute to our efforts to build greater economic opportunity in the region,” Van Hollen said.

The site was selected in part because of its attractive logistical features. Those include easy access to the a deep-water port, railroads and interstate highways.

In addition to the facility’s grand opening, BMW also presented four new electric bicycles to the Baltimore County Police Department.

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“The job creation and associated benefits are a game changer,” Hogan said. “But equally as important, this partnership allows the Port of Baltimore to continue leading the way in responding to the current supply chain crisis and cements our port’s vaunted status as the largest importer of automobiles in America.”

Jessica Albert