The facility may also help attract new biotech companies to Maryland, or convince young companies to move here as they begin to prepare for commercialization, backers hope.
"I think it definitely could be used as a marketing strategy," said V. M. "Vic" Esposito, chief executive of Theracel Corp. in Bethesda. "It will also show the commitment of the state to the industry."
The plan calls for the facility to have three isolated suites that separate companies can rent to make their products, as well as equipment that will allow the manufacturing process to meet the FDA's strict quality-control standards. Clients could bring in their own scientists and manufacturing staff to design and execute manufacturing processes, but the center would also have a technical staff available for companies that need the help.
"If you look at the start-up companies, they're started by scientists or businessmen," Mr. Esposito said, and the businessmen are usually former venture capitalists or other finance specialists. "Very rarely do they have any manufacturing expertise."
Mr. Chmura said the facility will be at the Baltimore end of the corridor because that is where land values dictate that most of the local biotech industry's manufacturing capability will eventually have to go.
"Being realistic, as a company expands and needs a larger facility, the Montgomery County real estate market isn't where they want to be," Mr. Chmura said. "The manufacturing is more likely to be in Baltimore" because of the area's land availability, concentration of university medicine and science programs, and the Baltimore area's supply of programs to train medical technicians critical to biotech manufacturing.
The study estimates that 10 to 12 companies a year would use the facility; most would be from Maryland, and Mr. Chmura said out-of-state companies will probably be charged higher rates to use it.
The rates will be about $3,000 to $5,000 a day, according to the business plan. The companies' average stay is expected to be about three months. Cheap it's not, but it's not the $2 million Mr. Stagnaro needed either.
The study estimates that as many as 40 to 50 companies would want to use the facility over the next five years, largely driven by the lack of real alternatives.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer put $2 million in the state's capital budget this year to pay for design work on the bioprocessing center, which will be located either at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Catonsville or at Dome Corp.'s Bayview Research Campus in East Baltimore.
The business plan calls for the state to pay all the $17 million cost of actually building the project, and says federal grants and private investment will also be needed for $5 million in start-up costs, but Ms. Cromwell said rents from the tenants will let the facility break even on an operating basis by its second year.