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State readies $9.5M offer to keep Bechtel workers in Frederick

ANNAPOLIS – Maryland is poised to offer Bechtel Corp. $9.5 million to keep the majority of its Frederick County workforce in place until 2018.

The engineering and construction management firm, one of the largest employers in the county, has been considering a move to Northern Virginia.

“It’s sad that the state has to consider something like this,” said Sen. David R. Brinkley, R-Carroll and Frederick. “You have someone who has been there, and it’s been their worldwide headquarters.”

Maryland’s offer would come in two pieces from the Sunny Day Fund, a pool of money the state uses for “extraordinary economic development opportunities.” There would be a $2 million conditional grant in the first year, and then a $7.5 million conditional grant spread over the next six years.

Bechtel would have to keep at least 1,250 workers in Frederick County to keep the state subsidy. According to the company, the average salary of those jobs is $125,000 per year.

Bechtel would still move 625 employees to Northern Virginia, and is looking at 300,000 square feet of space in Loudon and Fairfax counties.

The Legislative Policy Committee, a panel made up of Senate and House leaders, is scheduled to take up the proposal Thursday afternoon.

“I suppose at any time Bechtel could say ‘No, don’t give us the money, we’re leaving,’” said Brinkley, a member of the committee. “That’s a very real possibility.”

The state also considered using the Sunny Day Fund during its last economic development dust-up with Northern Virginia. It offered $13 million from the fund as part of a $22.5 million state and Montgomery County offer to land the headquarters of

Northrop Grumman Corp., but the defense giant eventually chose a new home south of the Potomac.