HCC's report said such businesses would help strengthen the county's economy because they pay well.
According to DBED, the average wage at Maryland's biotech companies is about $75,000 per year.
In Washington County, the average wage is $35,672 per year, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission. Maryland's average wage for all workers is $48,238.80, DBED said.
Biotech jobs would include laboratory technicians, research associates, manufacturing and production technicians, and senior scientists, HCC's report said. There's work in medical and pharmaceutical research, microbiology, forensics and product development, it said.
There also is the opportunity of more jobs at and around Fort Detrick, according to HCC's report. Construction at the post is expected to add more than 1,400 jobs by 2010, according to the report.
Washington County has launched a biomedical sciences academy at its Technical High School, in addition to its focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics elsewhere.
HCC has started offering a degree in biotechnology. That is in addition to the wing it opened this year in its Technical Innovation Center, as an incubator where fledgling biotech companies can grow.
In a few years, the college plans to build a 65,000-square-foot Science Building "that includes 14 leading-edge laboratories and 'smart' classrooms for the preparation of technicians and future scientists," HCC's report said.
Argument for accelerator
Adding to the "attractiveness of the county as a bioscience hub," the report said, would be to build what is called an accelerator. This is a facility with specialized labs that provide larger spaces for companies outgrowing the incubator, but still needing financial help.
An accelerator probably will be needed within a few years as the young biotechs already here grow and others arrive, the report said.
It said one site near the college might be the 200-plus acre Mount Aetna Farms land, now owned by PNC Bank.
The report noted that "recent high profile expansion attempts, however, have met with some public opposition which can delay large scale projects."
So it is recommending change in the county's zoning law.
"For example," the report said, "HCC is proposing a new zoning district designation that would support the college's interrelated higher education and economic development initiatives. More comprehensive rezoning in the Robinwood area, encompassing land occupied by the Washington County Health System, Hagerstown Community College, and the Mt. Aetna Farms property, could create a bioscience/biomedical corridor."
The report cited several other possible steps if the community wants to aggressively seek biotech companies.
These steps range from allowing students at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown to use the labs planned in HCC's new Science Building to limiting the search for biotech companies to those doing research and development that would need far less water than medium- to large-scale pharmaceutical production facilities.
If you want to know more about nanotechnology, go to www.nanocenter.umd.edu/ or to www.crnano.org/whatis.htm
Biotech could be big in Washington Co., official says
WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Maryland's top economic development official foresees biotech companies soon will begin to pop up in Washington County in a big way.
"I do, if we define 'soon' as in the three- to five-year period," said David W. Edgerley, secretary of the state Department of Business & Economic Development.
Washington County is "certainly one of the strategic counties to watch in the economic high-growth, quality community sectors," Edgerley said Wednesday.
Frederick County is another.
That neighboring county will be Washington County's rival as biotech companies move out of the Interstate 270 Technology Corridor toward less expensive land to the west, officials said.