Medical Horizons in Baltimore

November 18, 1991

Before next summer, the Parkway/Swirnow Group Ltd. has the daunting task of convincing the Maryland Stadium Authority and medical suppliers that Baltimore is the right place for a $600 million medical trade mart and convention center. This is no small undertaking. The kind of medical technology exhibition and conference set-up Parkway envisions is widely used in other industries, but as yet untested in the medical equipment and supply business. The stadium authority wants assurances that the facility won't clog traffic or interfere with the baseball stadium or the proposed expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center. We hope Parkway surmounts both of these hurdles.

This proposal is far and away the best use for state-owned land next to the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A medical conference/exhibition center fits perfectly with the notion of Baltimore as a life sciences center anchored by the University of Maryland Medical System, Johns Hopkins, the Bayview research park and the Christopher Columbus marine research project. Given Baltimore's proximity to national medical research centers, the city's renowned clinical resources and superior rail, road and air links, this project might help turn Baltimore into the nation's premier medical marketing, trade and educational center. So far, the only similar undertaking in the U.S. is a much smaller version -- about a tenth the size of what's being proposed here -- in Birmingham, Ala.

The economic benefits would begin almost immediately with an estimated 4,000 construction jobs. The undertaking is projected to generate 2,000 permanent jobs and $7 million in taxes. A Legg Mason report estimates Medmart would add $225 million to the state's economy. The nine-month development option approved by the stadium authority gives Parkway what it needs to fashion a detailed marketing plan to attract tenants.

Now comes the hard part. What Parkway has to amass in one place is a range of medical technology, equipment, supplies and education -- something akin to a huge, stationary trade show. The concept is new and different. It will likely encounter turbulence -- especially in the current economic environment. This nonetheless offers exciting possibilities as Baltimore promotes the life sciences as its economic engine for the next century.

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