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Biotech, Aerospace, and Government Services Move Maryland's Economy

Aug/Sep 08
Incentives are key to Maryland's expanding sectors. Governor Martin O'Malley introduced his new vision for the future of biosciences under the banner of Bio 2020. Biotechnology, an already established cluster, with more than 400 companies, continues to make news. At BIO 2008 in San Diego, the Milken Institute announced that Maryland clinched second place on its Technology and Science Index of states' performance in a knowledge-based economy, and first in the nation for "human capital investment."

 "Our incentives provide $1.1 billion in investment for bioscience over the next 10 years," says Robert McGlotten, assistant secretary for business development. The expansion of the Maryland Biotechnology Tax Credit is expected to garner investors' interest. "Right now, we offer a very popular $6 million biotech tax credit," he says. "The governor intends to double that initiative in two years, double it again over the next two years, and then maintain a $24 million level through the year 2020." Another investment, the Maryland Biotechnology Center, is a planned one-stop facility, dedicated to resources, work force funding, and financing concerns of bioscience companies, and with staff ranging from marketing strategists to bioscience technologists.

Several aerospace and communications investments are currently up in the air. "In the spirit of cooperation, Maryland is partnering with the state of Virginia on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island," says McGlotten. An estimated 35 percent of NASA employees at the Wallops Island facility reside in Maryland. Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) is establishing a new Eco Center for launching low-orbiting satellites on Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and MARS will serve as the base of operations for OSC's planned Taurus 2 Launch vehicle. As the area evolves into a hub for cargo services to the international space station, many new jobs are expected. McGlotten notes that Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-related (UAV) operations have also shown promise.

Some recent communications sector growth involves BRAC projects. "We expect to see about 60,000 direct and indirect jobs coming to Maryland, primarily at the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade," says McGlotten, who notes that as the new home for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Fort Meade will employ "2,500 information tech scientists and engineers at the facility involved with the highly sensitive, complex technology of Internet communications." Additionally, "We expect private-sector business activity around Fort Meade, in addition to the Baltimore-Washington corridor, as defense contractors move nearby to service the military tenants."