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Wed May 11, 2022 - Northeast Edition
The U.S. Treasury Department announced recently that it will replace its main currency-printing plant in Washington, D.C., with a new $1.4 billion production facility in Beltsville, Md.
The federal government will build the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) plant on the current site of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, a federal facility, in Prince George's County.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a recent news release that the "environmentally conscious production facility" will produce paper currency and other federal security products."
In late April, title to the 104-acre site was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Treasury Department, according to Lydia Washington, a spokesperson of the BEP.
"This is an important milestone in the project," she told Maryland Matters.
The design of the currency production facility is ongoing, with an expected conclusion during the summer of 2023. Following that, the construction of the new BEP will get moving under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
If the timetable holds, Federal Reserve notes should roll off the presses at the plant later that year.
The new BEP facility will replace the current 108-year-old plant on 14th Street, overlooking the Tidal Basin in southwest Washington.
Bureau Director Len Olijar, told WTOP Radio in Washington that the printing plant "is a very challenging facility for us to produce in."
"[It] is more than 100 years old, very inefficient for 21st century manufacturing," he elaborated. "It's hard to maintain temperature and humidity, and both temperature and humidity affect paper significantly when you're printing."
Convincing the federal government to open a new BEP facility in Maryland had been a priority for the state's congressional delegation for years, according to Maryland Matters.
In addition, the state's Department of Commerce has supported the project since 2019 when the BEP announced that the state was under consideration for the new site, according to the governor's recent statement. He added that the department was involved with the selection process by coordinating conversations between the BEP and state agency partners and facilitating the federal project's needs to see how else the state can help.
"Over the past three years, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the state of Maryland have worked closely on evaluating the potential for this Beltsville facility and determining how we can best work together to make this project successful," Hogan said in his media release. "Learning that the land has been transferred is another step in the right direction for moving this project forward. We look forward to seeing the Bureau and its hundreds of employees call Maryland home."
Treasury officials are planning to employ at least 850 people at the new BEP site, the governor added, with 600 other employees working remotely.
"We take pride in knowing that Prince George's County will be one of only two locations in the country where U.S. currency is printed," said David Iannucci, president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation. "Increasing the number of federal jobs, and federal investment, in the county have long been a key part of our strategic focus for growing the county's economy."
Another plant in Fort Worth, Texas, is the only other facility where the federal government produces all seven denominations of paper currency. It opened in 1991 to meet an increase in production demand.
Currently, money printed at the Texas facility includes the letters "FTW" to indicate its origin, noted Maryland Matters. It is still unclear how currency printed in Beltsville will be marked.
"There will have to be some indicator," Olijar said in his remarks to WTOP Radio. "There will be a way to tell that those notes are coming from the Beltsville manufacturing facility."
Maryland Matters also reported that the state is working with the federal government and Prince George's County to ease traffic and improve intersections near the new plant, including Maryland Route 201, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Powder Mill Road.
In addition, Maryland also is being considered for the new home of the FBI's headquarters. The choices have been narrowed down to three, with proposed sites in Greenbelt and Landover, in addition to Springfield, Va.