State-owned technology center at UMBC is 80% leased 12 scientific companies, research groups are tenants

November 09, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

After dancing to music from the "Star Wars" movies, a small, computer-operated robot cut a purple ribbon yesterday in celebration of a milestone for the state-owned technology center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The center, which opened in April, is 80 percent leased. Its 12 tenants are growing scientific companies and research groups that employ 115 people. State, county and UMBC officials see the center as giving the school a head start on its planned research park on the Catonsville campus.

The ceremony was attended by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who celebrated the center's existence as a monument to timely governmental action.

Last year, the state and county acted quickly to acquire the 30-acre research park with five buildings on Rolling Road.

Declining defense spending had forced Lockheed-Martin Corp.

to close the facility, ending 450 jobs. The state bought it for $9.5 million and leased it to UMBC.

"Everyone saw a unique opportunity, and we moved quickly," Glendening said.

Ruppersberger, too, praised the acquisition of the research center but criticized Catonsville residents, who fought UMBC's plans for a technology research center on campus.

"I don't know any county in the country that would not want a [technology center] in their back yard," he said.

"We've just started," Ruppersberger said, adding that creating jobs that pay well and attracting businesses is vital for the county to raise revenues to provide services that even the critics demand.

UMBC President Freeman A.Hrabowski III said there's more to come.

"We are growing so fast that we are literally growing out of space," he said, adding that it will be a challenge for Glendening and Ruppersberger to "help us continue to find space."

Because they were built for scientific research, the Lockheed-Martin buildings were perfect for UMBC's purposes, offering lab space and classrooms for students.

Hrabowski said UMBC's research park -- construction is slated to begin early next year -- will offer a place for companies to be born and grow.

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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