Maryland Officials Still Wooing Distribution Center to Somerset - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Elizabeth Harrington

Maryland Officials Still Wooing Distribution Center to Somerset

The sign in front of Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters. (Photo: AP) The sign in front of Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters. (Photo: AP)

01/22/2006 10:59 AM EST

ANNAPOLIS-  Despite a new state healthcare law that has apparently made Somerset County less appealing to Wal-Mart, state officials are still trying to convince the retail giant to build a massive distribution center that would bring with it more than 800 jobs to one of Maryland's poorest regions.

Local and state officials say they talk to Wal-Mart officials daily, urging company officials to continue with plans to locate the center here. Governor Ehrlich met privately with local delegates, mapping out a plan of attack to make sure the retailer doesn't decide to take its jobs elsewhere.

Delegate Paige Elmore says no matter what Wal-Mart decides, the shore must find ways to make itself more attractive to business. 

"I just think that major business, a lot of businesses that come here, look at the Eastern Shore, one of their first questions they ask is do you have broadband," he said.

Governor Ehrlich isn't ready to talk about new things to offer. He says Somerset has the land, location, and workforce that Wal Mart needs.  "We intend to move forward. Plan A is still Plan A. Plan B only becomes relevant if Plan A be rendered moot," said the governor.

Wal-Mart officials tell WBOC the company is weighing its options. They say that could include a lawsuit against the state for instituting a rule that forces large companies in Maryland to pay a minimum for worker healthcare or pay that amount into the Medicaid system.

So far in Maryland, Wal-Mart is the only company big enough to be affected. 

Maryland is the first state with this kind of law.

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