A subsidiary of the Israeli defense electronics company IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) North America has opened an office in Howard County and plans to create 100 new high technology jobs at that location during the next four years.
The subsidiary, ELTA North America, leverages state-of-the-art technology from ELTA Systems Ltd., the world’s fourth largest radar company.
Since June 1, ELTA North America has occupied a 7,500-square-foot leased space in Maple Lawn, and plans to expand to 25,000 square feet as the company hires more staff and grows to a full-service office that will include electronics manufacturing.
According to a press release issued by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), the Maryland/Israel Development Center started initial discussions in 2010 with the company about setting up a U.S. subsidiary.
Since then, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and DBED Secretary Christian Johansson met with IAI and ELTA company executives on numerous occasions to help bring the company to Maryland.
“The goal of the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC) is to promote bilateral trade and investment, and we’re proud to have had a role in their selecting Maryland,” said MIDC Executive Director Barry Bogage.
“We want to thank the company for [its] commitment to investing in our state,” O’Malley said in the release. “Our strategic location, accessible to many U.S. and foreign markets and coupled with one of the most highly educated workforces in the country, will be a tremendous benefit to the company as they look to grow their U.S. customer base.”
Collaboration Pays Off
Speaking at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber 3.01 Conference in June, Ulman touted the arrival of the company as a result of successful collaboration between the state and the county, aided by some aggressive marketing and competitive tax credit policies.
“They are the folks that create the Iron Dome and have a more than 90% kill rate for missiles coming in from Gaza,” Ulman said. “Not only can they shoot missiles down, but they can also hit the missile battery that shot the missile in the first place, at the same time.”
Ulman traveled to the IAI campus in Israel to learn more about ELTA Systems as part of the negotiating process.
Addressing the company’s aggressive expansion plans, ELTA North America CEO Dave Machuga said he believes the talent pool provided by the region will benefit both his company and its customers.
“It was clear from the beginning that the leadership in Maryland at all levels is focused on economic growth and high tech jobs,” Machuga said. “This has allowed us to move quickly to the region and begin hiring.”
According to Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) CEO Laura Neuman, ELTA Systems was considering six different states for its U.S. headquarters.
“I’m beyond excited that they chose Maple Lawn,” Neuman said. “It’s not only a big win for Howard County and the state, but now we might also be able to put some people back to work who were laid off recently from Northrop Grumman.”
To help attract ELTA North America to Maryland, DBED approved a $300,000 conditional loan through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund.
Neuman confirmed that HCEDA and the county matched 10% of the state incentive, giving the company a separate $30,000 tax credit, to be phased in during a five-year period.
“Right now, the payback period on these types of incentives is less than two years for us,” she said.
Aside from competitive tax credits, Ulman said he was also able and willing to do a little more to attract such a high-profile company to the county. “Their CEO will tell you one of the reasons they are here is because we worked it really, really hard,” he said, to include offering Machuga free office space in the county’s Neotech Incubator to help get the company up and running as quickly as possible.
“Little did I know we’d have 12 people working in our incubator,” Ulman said, “but Machuga told me afterward that once that happened, he wasn’t going anywhere else but Howard County.”