Three Maryland groups were awarded yesterday about $2.8 million in federal grants intended to help create jobs in the depressed defense industry.
In a letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, President Clinton said the three groups would receive grants to encourage the development of technologies that could be used for both commercial and military needs.
Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of Maryland's Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), said his department was involved in two groups that received about $2 million of the money. He said it represented a significant advance in the state's efforts to help small- and medium-sized companies adjust to the sharp decline in Pentagon spending since the end of the Cold War.
The awards to Maryland were part of 55 grants totaling $110 million awarded through the federal government's Technology Reinvestment Project.
In October, the federal government awarded 41 grants totaling $140 million, including some to Maryland. The next round of federal awards is expected next month.
One of the awards was for $1.06 million to the Maryland Manufacturing Modernization Network, an outreach network managed by DEED that includes the University of Maryland's Technology Extension Service.
The money would be used to add four field agents to the Technology Extension Service and two staff positions at the Maryland Center for Productivity.
The additional positions would expand their operations by tapping into the expertise at the Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University and using it to help companies adjust to the declining defense budget.
A second grant of $1.01 million was awarded to a partnership that includes DEED, the University of Baltimore, Morgan State University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Greater Baltimore Committee.
This effort would involve the use of graduate students in business, law and engineering to develop for commercial use the technology at about 70 federal laboratories in Maryland and the region.
As an example of what it hopes to accomplish, Lanny Heron, an assistant professor of management at the University of Baltimore, said a sensor developed by the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi could be used to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
The third grant coming to Maryland, totaling $720,000, went to the National Tooling and Machining Association in Fort Washington.
The trade association of tool and die and precision machining companies would use the funds to help establish an electronic information network to help small companies modernize and become more competitive by taking advantage of business information.