SNOW HILL – Worcester County officials agreed to provide a $10,000 grant to the armor manufacturing company Hardwire to aid in its latest expansion.
Based on a recommendation from Merry Mears, the county’s economic development director, the Worcester County Commissioners agreed to give Hardwire $10,000. The grant will be used to upgrade the electrical system at the company’s new building on Broad Street in Pocomoke.
“I can’t imagine a better way to expend these funds,” Mears said.
Last year, Hardwire expanded to its third location in Pocomoke — the building at 1731 Broad St. Because the building is essentially a shell, Hardwire now has to upgrade the electrical system
“Hardwire requests support from the county in the amount of $10,000 to aid in their power upgrade investment of approximately $300,000 at this one location,” Mears said.
She said the company’s armor manufacturing facilities currently spanned more than 100,000 square feet. The new facility will give Hardwire another 42,000 square feet, which Mears pointed out added to county revenues in the form of property taxes.
Hardwire currently employs 41 people. The average salary for a Hardwire employee is $77,000 a year.
“Hardwire employs a team of local talent that has developed patented lightweight armor to protect our troops against a variety of threats, ranging from small arms to improvised explosive devices to underbody blasts,” Mears said.
She said that because the company continued to invest in Worcester County, she recommended the commissioners provide the requested grant.
“They are truly a community player,” she said. “They’re very entrenched and involved here.”
Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw echoed her sentiments.
“Hardwire has certainly been a great asset to Worcester County,” he said.
Commissioner Chip Bertino, however, said he was worried that the grant would set a precedent.
“My concern is we could be opening a floodgate of requests,” he said.
Mears said that she received funding requests all the time and that she typically worked to connect interested parties with support from the private sector. She said she’d worked with Hardwire to help the company get a no interest loan from the state for $85,000 and a grant from the City of Pocomoke. She said funding for a grant from the county was available in her department’s budget.
“I don’t believe we’d find another employer that’s given this much back to the community, particularly at the southern end of the county,” she said.
Commissioner Bud Church agreed and said requests from other companies could be considered on an individual basis.
“We have a company here that’s been very progressive,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any downside to approving this request.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the $10,000 grant.