Towson University applying to join state's RISE economic development initiative

Towson University.
Towson University. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Towson University officials say they are applying for a program that would target the campus and surrounding community for increased economic development.

The university qualified under the state’s Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise program, or RISE, which allows it to seek a RISE Zone designation, the university said.


The state Department of Commerce program aims to leverage the economic development potential of the state’s higher education institutions.

New or expanding businesses that invest or add jobs in a zone could qualify for real property or income tax credits.

“Towson University is a significant economic driver of a knowledge-based economy for Towson, the county and greater Baltimore,” Kim Schatzel, the university’s president, said in an announcement.

The university generates $1.8 billion in annual economic impact, including $150 million generated by the TU incubator, which “makes us a sought-after partner for established businesses and start-ups alike,” Schatzel said.

“If approved, a RISE Zone designation will help position Greater Towson as a leader in technological innovation, entrepreneurship and a knowledge-based economy,” she said.

The university is building a $180 million science and math complex expected to open in 2020 and this summer will start an overhaul of the University Union, which would open in 2021. It is seeking the RISE designation in an effort to increase economic growth at the university and in the surrounding Towson community through an initiative known as Together Towson.

RISE Zones in Maryland include three other University System of Maryland institutions — The University of Maryland Baltimore, University of Maryland College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Former Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died last month, had submitted a letter on behalf of the county supporting the Towson University’s application.

County Executive Don Mohler, who was named Kamenetz’s successor, called the university an “important partner” in goals such as adding jobs, supporting entrepreneurship and educating the workforce.

“When secured, a RISE Zone designation has the potential to multiply that impact in downtown Towson,” Mohler said in the announcement.