Cellmark Diagnostics Inc., a DNA forensics firm that has worked on celebrated investigations including the JonBenet Ramsey and O. J. Simpson cases, said yesterday that it has decided to remain in Montgomery County and has signed a 10-year lease at its present facility.
Howard County and Prince George's County competed to lure fast-growing Cellmark away from Montgomery.
But the privately held forensics company was persuaded to remain in Montgomery County by a financial incentive package that included a $45,000 county grant to help offset expansion costs, said Mark Stolorow, Cellmark's director of operations.
The Germantown-based company also chose to remain in Montgomery County because of its proximity to the Interstate 270 "High-tech Corridor" where there is a large concentration of technology companies.
"We wanted to be near the National Institutes of Health and other biotechnology companies so we can keep up with the latest advancements in genetics and molecular biology," said Stolorow.
The company said its new lease agreement will allow it to expand to 16,500 square feet, up from about 13,000 square feet. A year ago, the company had just 8,000 square feet.
Stolorow said the company expects to also expand its staffing to 50 from 35 during the next several years.
The company expects to add geneticists, molecular biologists and biochemists.
Cellmark's expansion needs are being propelled by business growing at a rate of about 20 percent annually, said Stolorow.
"Cellmark Diagnostics is a prime example of the type of strong, high-tech growth that thrives here," said Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan.
The county, he said, was "delighted with their decision to not only stay in Montgomery County, but to expand here."
Cellmark's chief source of revenue is its DNA "fingerprinting" services for police, prosecutors, and defense lawyers nationwide.
That service seeks to determine if forensic samples, such as blood, semen or other evidence containing human cells, genetically matches those of crime suspects.
The company, the largest independent forensic DNA testing laboratory in the United States, also is seeing rapid growth for its paternity testing services, said Stolorow.
"We are hoping that this agreement takes care of our growth needs for the next 10-years," he said.
Lifecodes Corp., a privately held firm based in Stamford, Conn., which sells DNA testing products to laboratory customers around the country, bought the rights to market Cellmark services in the United States. The terms of that March, 1996 deal were not disclosed.
Pub Date: 7/16/97