Montgomery County, in a major step toward industrial development along the Rte. 29 corridor, announced yesterday that the biggest computer services firm in Canada will build a $10 million data-processing center in the area.

Datacrown Inc., an Ontario-based subsidiary of the Crown Life Insurance Co., will establish its first U.S. computing facility on a 10-acre site in the Montgomery Industrial Park, which is between White Oak and Burtonsville.

The 7,000-square-foot facility will be the first Canadian venture in Montgomery County and comes at a time when neighboring Frederick County is trying to lure new businesses, particularly those now located in Montgomery, to an industrial development site of its own.

At a joint press conference with executives from Datacrown and its parent company, Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist said Datacrown's Systemcenter will be the first major development in the Rte. 29 corridor since a seven-year sewer moratorium was lifted last year.

"We're particularly pleased because Datacrown is an international corporation and because the quality and type of installation they intend to build sets a whole new tone for similar development in the Rte. 29 corridor," Gilchrist said.

The new center is expected to create about 120 new jobs during the next two years, most of which will be filled locally, and more than $500,000 in direct tax revenue for Montgomery County and the state.

"We view Datacrown as the start of something great for economic development in eastern Montgomery County," Gilchrist said.

Negotiations to bring Datacrown to Montgomery County began about five years ago, and the company looked at several alternative sites, including the Rte. 270 corridor, before settling on the Montgomery Industrial Park. The company received tax-exempt financing in the form of a $9.4 million, low-interest, Maryland Industrial Development Financing loan.

Richard G. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Datacrown, told the press conference that the company was attracted to the industrial park for a number of reasons, including the existence of a good technical communications network and convenient transportation.

"It offers us the facilities and the environment that a high-technology company seeks," Taylor said. "We believe our company, in turn, is compatible with Montgomery County, and that it represents the kind of development that the county seeks: a development involving an educated work force, environmentally risk-free, representing an industry with a key role to play in shaping the future."

Taylor said that Datacrown, which has branches in the United States involved in marketing, plans to build four more Systemcenters in the United States.

Datacrown will join several other high technology and medical sciences companies in the industrial park, including Rixon, a French research and development firm; Pfizer Medical Systems; Computer Entry Corp. and Electro-Nucleonics. Two hundred acres of the nearby University of Maryland Research Farm will become available for industrial development soon.