Maryland's PRS Guitars plans expansion, new hires
By Emily Kimball /
April 16, 2015

Paul Reed Smith Guitars(PRS)beloved byrock stars and students alikeplans to take its guitar manufacturing operationto the next level.

With assistance froma $100,000 conditional grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development(DBED) and a $200,000 conditional grant from the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners, PRS plans tointroduce a new line of acoustic guitars andadd 20 new full-time employees over the next three years. PRS has also agreed to remain in Queen Anne's Countyfor the next 10 years, where it is the largest full-time private employer, DBED announced Thursday.

"We are very excited that the State and County have approved the grants that will enable PRS to begin the expansion of our acoustic production," said PRS President Jack Higginbotham.

From humble beginnings, PRS has become the third largest electric guitar manufacturer in the United States, with products sold in more than 80 countries.

FounderPaul Reed Smith first began manufacturing electric guitars in his parents' Bowie home in 1975. Smith later formed a small team of craftsmen and moved operations to Annapolis. By the 1980s, world-famous guitarist Carlos Santana and othermusicians had begun using and promoting PRS guitars. The company moved toStevensville in Queen Anne's County in the mid-1990s. In 2001, it launchedoverseas production of a less expensive line of guitars geared toward younger players and first-time guitar owners. In 2009, PRS expanded production to include acoustic guitars and guitar amplifiers.

DBED, a longtime supporter of the company, provided PRS with a$1.5 million loan and tax exempt bond issuance beginning in 2006. Using these funds, PRS expanded its facility by 89,000 square feet and created a much larger state-of-the-art factory floor. In 2013, PRS launched theS2 Series of guitars, which stands for "Stevensville 2," and celebrates the company's Maryland heritage.

"Growing from a small operation more than 30 years ago to now one of the top electric guitar makers in the world, PRS is certainly one of the rock stars of Maryland's business community," said DBED Secretary Mike Gill. "We are pleased to continue to play a role in the company's growth and success."

"We are ecstatic that PRS continues to invest and expand its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Queen Anne's County. The economic impact and name recognition they bring to our community is tremendous. PRS is a great example of how the County's workforce, location and business climate support high caliber international companies." said Queen Anne's County Commissioner Paul Comfort.

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