The University of Maryland, Baltimore County's research and technology park received a $2 million state grant yesterday to help it attract more technology companies.
UMBC's bwtech@UMBC, the first university-based research park to open in the state, also announced deals to lease most of the remaining space in its newest building to a publisher of a practice management journal for physicians and to the Baltimore office of an engineering firm.
The research park, owned and managed by a nonprofit corporation formed by the university, is designed to offer an environment that encourages research and opportunities to work with university-based researchers and students.
Two of five planned buildings have been completed on 41 acres southwest of UMBC's main campus in Catonsville. The park, a $50 million project, will be constructed over five years and is projected to eventually employ about 1,250 people.
The General Assembly's Legislative Policy Committee approved the $2 million yesterday from the state's Sunny Day Fund, which provides financial help to companies that spur economic development.
"This investment the state is making is intended to be an additional financial resource for the research park corporation to lessen the cost of attracting technology tenants into the building," said Robert L. Hannon, assistant secretary for the Baltimore region of the Department of Business and Economic Development, which administers the Sunny Day Fund. He said the investment is the first this year from the fund.
Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of UMBC Research Park Corp., said the investment will help the research park outfit future buildings with the costly improvements required by many technology and research companies. Those can include wet labs for biological work and specially designed units for classified research.
"We're targeting our project to companies that will be engaging in research with the university, hiring students, working with our faculty and in general find added value in the location," Hemmerly said. "Many of the companies will be working with researchers at the university and help technologies that are developed at the university come out onto the market."
The first, 60,000-square-foot building in the park opened in 2000 and was designed specifically for RWD Technologies, an information technology and training services company that helps manufacturers compete globally through technology.
The second building, also 60,000 square feet but designed for multiple tenants, was completed in September. Its tenants include BD Metrics Inc., Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, and the National Association of Educational Buyers Inc.
Yesterday, the university announced deals with two additional tenants that will take most of the remaining space in that building.
Physicians Practice, a health care communications and technology firm moving from Glen Burnie, employs 45 people.
Another new tenant, Edwards and Kelcey, a national engineering, design, planning and construction management firm, employs 25 transportation engineers and planners locally. It does work for the Maryland Aviation Administration, Maryland State Highway Administration and Baltimore City government.
"The location is really good for us," said Jennifer Radech, marketing manager for Edwards and Kelcey.
Three more buildings are planned over the next five years, Hemmerly said.
"Research parks such as UMBC's really bring business and higher education together in a way that benefits the overall economy by taking cutting-edge research and putting it out in the market, which translates into businesses and jobs," said David S. Iannucci, executive director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development.