Maryland is one of the top locations in the nation for biotechnology. As Washington and Baltimore have become more crowded and expensive, some firms have started opening locations in Western Maryland, which is more affordable yet close to the cities.
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Hagerstown, MD (PRWEB) May 4, 2010
It may seem unusual for a region to participate in the nation’s leading biotech convention, but the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission will be representing what has become a fast-growing hotspot for biotech companies. The Western Maryland EDC will attend this year’s BIO International Convention on May 3-6 in Chicago.
Over 365 biotech companies operate in Maryland, making it one of the top locations in the nation for biotechnology. Many of these companies have focused on suburban areas just outside Washington, DC and Baltimore. But now, many are looking farther west to Washington County and Hagerstown, which offer an excellent quality of life, a highly-educated workforce, some of the best secondary schools in the nation, and superb transportation access—all without the higher cost of business in the larger urban areas.
As suburban Washington and Baltimore have become more crowded and expensive, some biotech firms have started opening second locations in Western Maryland—which is still barely more than an hour from the big cities. MedImmune, headquartered in Montgomery County, opened a biomanufacturing plant in Frederick, Maryland and joined a growing community of biotech firms anchored by the U.S. Army’s Fort Detrick, which surrounds a 68-acre enclave owned by the National Cancer Institute and is home to several large governmental bioscience laboratories. Detrick’s laboratories have drawn dozens of biotech companies to the area.
Preparing a Biotech Workforce for Tomorrow
Washington County and Hagerstown, Maryland—a short distance to the west of Frederick—has made biotechnology a top priority for future business growth. The county’s public school system is preparing students for biotech careers and now includes Tech High, home of Washington County’s Academy for Biomedical Sciences. Tech High is among a few dozen high schools nationwide pioneering the Project Lead the Way biomed program. This extraordinary program is anchored by one the highest-rated public school systems in the nation, and is soon to be enhanced by an agreement awarding course credits from Hagerstown Community College.
The Technical Innovation Center is Western Maryland’s Largest Technology Incubator
Many up-and-coming biotech companies are getting off the ground at Hagerstown Community College’s Technical Innovation Center (TIC), the largest, most comprehensive technology-based business incubator in Western Maryland. The TIC provides space and other services and amenities to entrepreneurs and startups as well as existing companies. The 30,000 square-foot facility consists of office space, open manufacturing space, conference rooms, and 4,000 square feet of biotech research labs. A $1.3 million addition, paid for by the Washington County government and the State of Maryland, contains more specialized laboratories for biotechnology. TIC Tenants include Ambay Immune Sensors and Controls, Nanolytics, Protein RST, and more.
A Unique, Local Biotechnology Degree
Hagerstown Community College now offers a Biotechnology Associate of Applied Science degree that is helping prepare local students for biotech careers. Graduates are prepared to either begin work as technicians or to transfer to a higher biotech degree program elsewhere. Some local graduates have started their own companies through the Technical Innovation Center. “Our research has shown that biotech companies like to cluster around one another, so it’s very important for us to start to grow our own biotech companies here in Washington County,” said Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
The Hagerstown-Washington EDC is actively promoting the region at trade shows targeting the biotechnology industry. The EDC exhibited at last year’s BIO International Convention in San Diego, California, and plans to attend this year’s show, held May 3-6 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.
A Crossroads of Commerce Ideal for Biotech Companies
Located at the intersection of two of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest interstates, just minutes from four states, and only an hour from the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro areas, Hagerstown, Maryland and surrounding Washington County have become a favorite location for a wide variety of businesses. The outstanding quality of life, the nation’s best schools, and low traffic coupled with economic advantages like reasonable labor and real estate costs make Hagerstown and Washington County an obvious choice.
Washington County is known for a healthy, pro-business climate. With incentives and financing programs from a variety of sources, businesses get significant assistance to open, expand or relocate in the area. Company goals are achieved by working with partners and developing custom programs to maximize benefits for each business.
Beyond financial assistance, expert liaisons are employed to help ensure a smooth expansion and logistical process through the County’s "Fast Track Program."