High-tech is fastest-growing industry in Baltimore-Washington area


High-technology industries generated 94,000 new jobs in the Baltimore-Washington Common Market between 1980 and 1988, making high-tech the fastest-growing industry in the consolidated market, a new report by the Washington-Baltimore Regional Association has concluded.

Nationally, the report found that one out of every eight high-tech jobs -- about 13 percent -- were generated in the Baltimore-Washington market during the period.

According to the report, that makes the Washington-Baltimore market No. 1 in terms of growth of high-tech employment, putting the region far ahead of such high-tech heavyweights as San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston-Lawrence-Salem. From 1980 to 1988, the San Francisco market generated 80,348 high-tech jobs, followed by 59,927 jobs in the Dallas market and 39,567 jobs in the Boston region.

"Economic development officials throughout the region have called the public's attention to high-technology industries as a major growth area for the future," said Benjamin R. Civiletti, WBRA chairman and managing partner of Venable, Baetjer and Howard, a Baltimore-based law firm. "We are seeing the positive results of their efforts in these figures."

During 1990, the region had about 212,000 high-tech employees, accounting for 3.6 percent of the nation's total.

According to the report, five high-tech industries account for 72 percent of all high-tech employment in the Baltimore-Washington corridor: computer and data processing services; search and navigation equipment; commercial, physical and biological research; noncommercial research organizations; and communications equipment.

The report also reaffirmed that the local biotech industry is the fourth-largest nationally.

William C. Harris, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, credited the presence of federal laboratories in the area with spurring private-sector growth in local high-tech industries.

"With more federal labs than any other U.S. market, this region is a magnet for technology-based companies wanting to benefit from the federal government's contribution to our region's economy," Mr. Harris said. "These labs also aid the transfer of research and development activities into commercial applications, encouraging private-sector growth in the Baltimore-Washington region."

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