(May 20, 2016) The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to provide a $10,000 grant for a composite armor manufacturer to complete an expansion in Pocomoke City at its meeting on Tuesday.
The request came from Merry Mears, county director of economic development, and will help Hardwire LLC continue its development of its third location, which will be at 1731 Broad St.
Originally constructed as a shell, the Broad Street location requires power upgrades, estimated to cost $300,000, which the county grant will help support.
In her presentation to the commissioners, Mears said the company is entrenched in the area and offers residents good job opportunities.
Hardwire employs 41 people at an average salary of $77,000. The company has developed patented lightweight armor that offers protection from warzone threats such as small arms fire to improvised explosive devices.
Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw praised the company for providing viable employment in his district.
I would greatly support a new grant, he said.
Commissioner Chip Bertino raised concerns over future requests.
Is this going to set any kind of precedent? he asked.
Mears explained this was a special request and normally she locates private funding sources.
Bertino was still apprehensive.
My concern is we could be opening the flood gate for requests, he said.
Pointing out the high tech, high-paying employment that Hardwire provides, Mears said the request is not typical.
I get requests all the time, she said. They dont usually make it to the commissioners.
Mears also said she negotiated with Hardwire to lower the dollar value of the grant.
I asked them to reduce the request from $20,000 to $10,000, she said.
Commissioner Jim Bunting confirmed Mears department could accommodate the request.
This is money you already have in your budget? he asked.
Mears also said her office has worked with Hardwire to obtain a zero percent loan for $85,000 from the State of Maryland.
Commissioner Bud Church was satisfied the money would be put to good use.
I dont think there is any downside to approving the request, he said.