The Columbus Center is looking for private donors to give the $20 million it needs to supply scientific equipment for the center's new marine biotechnology labs in Baltimore and to fabricate the educational displays for its Pratt Street exhibition hall.
"Now it's our turn. Today the private sector steps in to take a more visible role," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, president and chief operating officer at Alex. Brown & Sons, who is also chairman of the Columbus Center. He formally opened the year-long campaign today.
The money is expected to be raised both locally and nationally through direct appeals to corporate, foundation and individual donors. About half the $7 million in scientific equipment needed is likely to be acquired in the form of in-kind corporate donations, he said.
The gear will include laboratory equipment, telecommunications equipment and desktop computers.
Another $10 million is needed to build and install the educational exhibit slated for the Columbus Center's Hall of Exhibition. The hall is intended to be another Inner Harbor tourist attraction.
The $3 million balance of private money would pay for start-up educational programs and other costs.
Mr. Shattuck said some donors have already promised a portion of the $20 million. An announcement of those donations is likely within a month.
The $160 million Columbus Center on Piers 5 and 6 is due to open to researchers next spring. It has already received about $44 million in federal contributions, $18 million from the state, and $24 million from the city.
The city has also furnished the land on Pratt Street, valued at $34 million, and has promised another $12 million if it is needed for parking.
Another $10.3 million in federal funding is still being sought in Congress.
Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski said today that while other federal research laboratories develop weapons of war, the Columbus Center will discover "the weapons of peace that will win the war for America's future."
Discoveries in marine biotechnology at the center are expected to yield "new ideas, that will lead to new products, that will lead to new jobs," Sen. Mikulski said.
Forty-one Baltimore-area middle school students attended today's campaign kickoff. They are part of the Columbus Center's "First Class" program, a three-year effort to provide students with enriched learning experiences at the center and visit with resident scientists.