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The sleepy town of Belcamp, Maryland had no idea that the rise of Adolph Hitler would forever change its economy, architecture, and culture. Already an established multinational shoe manufacturing company in 1933, Bata Shoe Company of Czechoslovakia was looking to the West to expand its international operations and avoid the growing turmoil in Europe. In that year, Tomas Bata Jr., his mother, his uncle Jan Bata, and several Bata executives traveled to the United States and to Canada to explore the possibility of establishing a new campus. Their travels led them to Belcamp, which was chosen as one of the new locations. To adequately house their facilities, Bata purchased more than 2,000 acres of historically significant Harford County Real Estate known as Sophia's Dairy. In the beginning, despite its boost to the local economy, the firm ran afoul of American manufacturing companies, American labor unions, and the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. However, Bata eventually achieved widespread acceptance, becoming the second largest employer in Harford County. Bata operated a multi-building campus constructed just south of Aberdeen Proving Ground. Through five decades Bata Shoes was a fixture of Harford County until business in the United States dropped off due to a variety of reasons. Between 1976 and 1991, Bata Land Corporation sold a large section of its original land to become the Riverside Community. In 2005 the last of the Belcamp Bata buildings was brought down to make way for an Office Park and Condominium Complex.
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