Battelle opens 16-lab complex near Aberdeen Proving Ground


Battelle officially opened its Eastern Science and Technology Center in Aberdeen yesterday, placing the Ohio nonprofit research and development firm in a prime location for military, biotechnology and pharmaceutical work.

The $20 million laboratory, office and conference space employs 200 scientists and researchers who work primarily on biological and chemical defense but also conduct engineering and technology research.

"This is the first of many phases for Battelle," said J. Thomas Sadowski, Harford County's director of economic development. "We now have two billion-dollar research organizations in the county, Aberdeen Proving Ground and Battelle. I think that says it all."

He said the county government has been working for five years with the state, business and higher education officials to build a Harford high-technology corridor.

Battelle's decision to build in Aberdeen's Higher Education and Applied Technology Center further strengthens that public-private partnership. "This is a significant step in that regard," Sadowski said.

Battelle's presence in Harford County has grown from two people in 1986 to 325 today, many of whom work in the labs at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, said Warren Mullins, vice president of business development at the Battelle center.

The new 80,000-square-foot center has 16 labs, including a Biosafety Level 3 suite, the second-highest grade, which will allow it to work with dangerous viral and bacterial agents, officials said yesterday.

Among those attending the opening were workers and officials from Battelle, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County and the state. as well as federal lawmakers.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, called the complex's opening "another important step in establishing Maryland as one of the premier locations" for high technology business.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said after the ceremony that with another round of military base realignments and closings planned for 2005, the ties between nonprofit Battelle and the proving ground "absolutely" reinforce the military post's viability and help the state make its case for keeping the base open.

Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, and the national labs it manages or co-manages have 16,000 employees.

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