ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer is hoping that establishing a state office of technology will lure high-technology firms to the state of Maryland and encourage those already here to expand.
As envisioned by the Schaefer administration, the office would have two experts in high-technology enterprises as full-time staff scientists.
J. Randall Evans, secretary for the Maryland Department of Economic and Community Development, said last week that the administration had prepared a bill, to be introduced in the legislature Jan. 13, to create the office within his department. Evans declined to disclose how much money will be sought for the new agency, but he said the bill, containing specifics of the proposal, should be filed within 10 days.
"We really need experts who are knowledgeable of technology to recruit firms from outside, help new firms emerge and help existing firms expand," he said.
The program would include appointment of an advisory board of scientists and business people "to review proposals for new ideas and grant money for first-stage" development of technology companies, Evans said.
Schaefer said earlier this year that Evans would draw up the state's overall economic development plan, including how Maryland should focus its efforts on biotechnology and other technology.
At the time, local government officials, businessmen and university administrators complained that Maryland's efforts to create new jobs in a thriving biotechnology industry were fragmented and that the state was not providing the leadership required for Maryland to compete with other states.
Evans said prospects are slim for the state to commit funds this year toward the $60 million needed in five years for the University of Maryland to build and renovate five centers for medicine, agriculture, marine biotechnology, a basic science center and an ethics center.
State economic development officials held brainstorming sessions this summer with industry and local government officials in preparing the technology proposal to present to Schaefer.
So far, the idea of an organized plan to help lure companies here has been well received.
"I think the state's moving in the right direction," said Walter H. Plosila, president of the Montgomery County High Technology Council, which represents 95 companies.