The University of Maryland's expansion plans fit snugly with Montgomery County's strategy for attracting more computer, telecommunications, biotechnology and other advanced technology businesses.
County officials last week cited the university's planned activities in Rockville as one of the lures being used to persuade high-tech companies to locate in a 1,200-acre area now known as Shady Grove West.
To be called the Shady Grove Business and Development Park, the area will include private companies, residential and office development, research facilities and academic resources, said L. James Eaton, director of the county's office of economic development. The park's rough boundaries would be I-270, I-370, Shady Grove Road and Maryland Rte. 128, in Rockville.
Much of the land in the area is privately owned, and county officials said developers are free to develop it as they like. However, the county is working to persuade developers that the high-tech park would be the best way to go, Eaton said.
If developers go along with the county's concept, the park would be developed around the 300-acre parcel of land now designated as the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, which includes health-care facilities and biomedical companies.
The University of Maryland plans to build a 35-acre research facility and locate part of its new Maryland Biotechnology Institute on a parcel adjacent to the Life Sciences Center. The institute's Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology is a joint project of the university, the county and the National Bureau of Standards.
On the other side of the Life Sciences Center, Johns Hopkins University is planning a Center for Advanced Studies in fields such as electrical engineering, computer sciences and technical management.
Both the universities and county economic development officials recognize a highly complementary relationship between the academic and business worlds. The high-tech talent attracted to companies usually is nurtured in academia and wants to maintain ties, while those who stay at universities enjoy applying their findings through company-sponsored projects.
The county already has committed $28 million to the development of the Life Sciences Center and is planning to spend more to improve roads in the area. Eaton said the Life Sciences Center serves as a core around which other types of technology firms could flourish.