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Looking to Flex its Biotech Muscle, Maryland Plans Two New Research Parks

NEW YORK, Sept. 5 - Montgomery County, the biotech heartland of the mid-Atlantic region, is plowing new fields.


Late in August, Maryland state and Montgomery county officials announced plans to build two new industrial parks that will supply 180 acres of R&D-ready space within the next two to three years.


The two new research parks are modeled after Shady Grove, the 315-acre Maryland biotech bastion that houses Human Genome Sciences, The Institute for Genomic Research, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, among others.


And as with Shady Grove, the new Maryland projects will be built with generous government subsidies and will be designed to draw both corporate and academic tenants.


"Biotech thrives in a collaborative environment, with higher education, government, and business interests," said Montgomery County Department of Economic Development spokesperson Scott Sloat. "That's the idea for both of these [parks]."


At Montgomery College's Germantown campus, government funders, biotech developers, and college officials are planning a 40-acre research park just off of I-270, in the state's high-tech corridor. Montgomery county has pledged $4 million to help purchase property, and the state has promised to invest $2 million in the new center.


In the other corner of the county, economic development officials are crafting a  120-acre research park on a parcel of land less than a mile away from the new US Food & Drug Administration research campus. The county hopes to pick a developer for this Calverton site within a month, said Sloat.


Both new parks would probably attract small- to medium-sized companies, he said. The county also may develop business incubators at both sites.


The biotech industry has been a boon to Montgomery County, employing roughly 15,000 workers in the sector, and these new real-estate projects are designed to keep the industry growing.


"What prompted this was the success of Shady Grove," said Sloat. "The county realized 30 years ago with the FDA and the National Institutes of Health [nearby] that we had a strategic gem in the rough. They established Shady Grove by buying all the land there, and letting it take on a life of its own--and it became an epicenter of the biotech industry."


With luck, he added, the Calverton park should be open for business by the end of 2004.

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