MEDIMMUNE INC., a Gaithersburg developer of drugs, vaccines and treatments, had just what the doctor ordered for Maryland: a $50 million manufacturing plant in Frederick County with a payroll that could reach $10 million. This not only is a boost for the Glendening administration's economic development efforts, it sends a strong message to local biotechnology firms that they no longer have to go out of state to set up production plants.
This is an important message. While the Interstate 270 corridor in particular is loaded with biotech research firms, there's no manufacturing component. Companies ready to market their discoveries usually go elsewhere to build an assembly line.
That's what MedImmune was ready to do. It was set to accept a tempting package of incentives from Ohio for its manufacturing plant. Only at the last minute did the incoming Glendening administration ask for time to make a counterproposal. Even then, things looked bleak because both Montgomery and Frederick counties wanted the plant.
Luckily, Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan had the good sense to offer a compromise: MedImmune would keep its executive offices in Gaithersburg and expand its research labs there but build its 90,000-square-foot plant in Frederick near Interstate 70. With $13 million of state, county and Frederick city money, the deal was sealed and MedImmune happily kept its entire operation in Maryland.
This is a sound use of state development funds. It means a $50 million construction project and perhaps 150 or more high-paying jobs. The tax payoff from this project will be considerable. It shows what an aggressive and targeted economic development effort can do -- especially when counties cooperate and don't feud in order to create more jobs.
It is also a clear signal to the biotech industry that this state is eager not only to help fledgling concerns set up labs but is anxious to aid them in growing into full-blown manufacturers. That is an ideal situation for a biotech firm, and a real coup for Maryland.
Pub Date: 8/22/96