Baltimore County and business leaders propose college center in Owings Mills Facility would hold classes from several institutions

October 02, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In a move to bolster the fast-growing Owings Mills area, Baltimore County and a group of business leaders want to build an educational center featuring classes from more than a half-dozen local colleges and universities.

The center, which might also include a business incubator, would be the first of its kind in the county. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the University of Baltimore, Towson University and Morgan State University are among the schools that have expressed interest in offering courses and career training there.

"There's a need for employee training and a skilled labor force in the area," said Brenda Crabbs, director of the Owings Mills Corporate Round Table, which represents 15 of the area's largest employers.

Officials are looking to build a 65,000-square-foot center on part of 38 acres owned by the Mass Transit Administration near the Metro station.

The state has long discussed developing the property, which straddles Interstate 795, and county officials say an educational center and adjacent business incubator could be seeds for commercial development in the area.

Increasingly, businesses are considering employee training /^ opportunities when deciding where to move or expand, county Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon said. "Companies have to constantly retrain their work force."

Stonebridge Associates, a Bethesda-based consultant, is examining the feasibility of the proposed college center in an $8,000 study funded by the county and the round table.

If the county and business leaders decide to go ahead with the project, Hannon said he would seek county funding for design studies in the next fiscal year. Construction could begin in 1999 on land between the Metro station and Owings Mills mall, he said.

The MTA also is conducting studies for developing the land.

Hannon said he is working with state officials to secure funding for a business incubator, which could be built adjacent to the college center. A new incubator, designed to nurture fledgling companies, is needed now that one at UMBC is full, he said.

The idea for creating an Owings Mills center similar to a multicollege facility in Harford County started among business leaders more than a year ago, Crabbs said.

Catonsville Community College has been offering courses at a satellite campus on Painters Mill Road for almost two decades, but the 20 classrooms there are nearly in full use.

Debra Friedman, director of the college's Owings Mills Center, said the proposed center would enable the school to offer degree programs in addition to the noncredit and customized training it offers. "It's been a real dream for us," she said.

Catonsville Community College would likely be the lead institution in the college center, which would offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in addition to career training. The school would continue to offer programs for senior citizens and high school seniors.

Other institutions that have expressed an interest in offering courses at the center include Maryland Institute, College of Art and Villa Julie College.

Loyola College considered participating but decided to consolidate its graduate business and engineering programs at a new facility in Timonium, said college spokesman Mark Kelly. ++ "We wanted to be near [Interstate] 83 and the Beltway, and I don't think we could have found a better site."

The Owings Mills center would be similar to the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center, which opened near Aberdeen in 1995. That state and county project was designed to provide a home for technological businesses while bringing upper-level degree programs to an area with no four-year institutions.

About 200 students a semester study at the HEAT center, which offers 17 undergraduate and graduate programs, said Carl Henderson, a spokesman for the facility. Eleven Maryland colleges and universities offer programs, including dozens of corporate training classes each year.

The HEAT center is set to expand with a new building that will include classrooms, corporate training facilities, business incubator space and labs for science and technology courses, Henderson said.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.