When the Frederick County commission passed a $6.5 million industrial bond resolution this week for a scientific research park, its first tenant was the Bethesda Research Laboratories which it lured away from Rockville.
Moreover, it opened the way for some impressive development plans that the county aggressively has been pursuing since 1978. By the end of this year, the county's efforts are expected to attract more than $60 million in capital investment.
Approval of the research park gives the go-ahed for the purchase of 100 acres in Frederick, 15 of which Bethesda Research will lease for its corporate headquarters. The project is planned by Stephen Turner, president of the laboratory, and his partner, John Leiser.
The 15,000-square-foot complex, scheduled to open October 1980, initially will employ 250 people and will act as a catalyst drawing other medical, scientific and electronics firms into the park. It is located across from the Frederick Cancer Research Center.
The remainder of the park, parcelled out in lots of 10 to 15 acres, is expected to attract eight to ten other scientific research companies.
"We expect that over a period of five or six years, the park will employ 2,000 to 3,000 people," said Donald Date, director of Economic and Community Development, who has spearheaded much of the movement.
"Turner told us he plans to build the most beautiful scientific research park in the East," he said. The "campus-like atmosphere" with landscaping, roadways and a six-acre lake, will attract companies in medical research, biological sciences and electronics research and development.
The resolution is the first approval under a Maryland industrial revenue bond change which went into effect July 1 to allow the private sector to develop industrial parks.
Said Date, since the bonds are tax free to the lender, "That means the companies get a significantly lower interest rate and we get the tax base and new jobs."
The county also approved a $3 million resolution for development of a 250-employe office complex in a historic building in downtown Frederick and a $170,000 for Digital Systems Corp. to expand its facility in Walkersville, Md., adding 85 employes there.
"It's a very important decision not only for Frederick County but for the state," said Date about the bond approvals. "This is a very dynamic area right now."
A growing labor market, population gains caused by births and in-migration from the Washington and Baltimore areas, the proximity to other medical and scientific firms, quality of life, a booming housing market, an efficient highway system and location to government and trade agencies are some of the attributes the county cites for its cooperative effort.
In the past 18 months, the county has added more than $30 million in business investments, and during the next three months, some 10 to 15 new or expanding firms will add another $25 million in capital investment and 1,000 new jobs.
"We've taken a very aggressive stance here in attracting businesses and it's just the tip of the iceberg," said Date.
During the first six months, the county, through a 1967 implemented Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, approved a number of new investments. The tax exempt program insures a portion of the risk to the lender.
"We lead companies to financial resources," explained Date who estimates that there are 70 existing companies in the area. In 1978 alone, 10 companies expanded the employment base adding 865 jobs.
"The Washington-Baltimore area is one of five science and medical centers in the country," said Date. "Our position is that it's our turn to grow in those areas."