Located an hour from Washington, DC's biotech corridor and less than 30 minutes from well-known national biodefense resource Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, Washington County is an affordable place to do business with close proximity to local metropolitan areas.
About 25% of Fort Detrick’s employees live in Washington County, MD and the activities and related agencies at Fort Detrick generate more than $1.7 billion in economic activity in the region.
The Technical Innovation Center (TIC) at Hagerstown Community College (HCC) has 4,000 square feet of wet lab space with 5 startup research and production firm lessees. The entrepreneurs found Hagerstown from the suburban Washington, DC area and as far away as South Carolina.
The other 11,000 life science professionals who live in the area have enjoyed Hagerstown-Washington County’s affordable quality of life. Some are seeking ways to start their own biotech research closer to home and will find the biotech incubator setting a cost effective option for them. Notably, no traffic and shorter commutes to work are a bonus!
The area's higher educational institutions, public schools and their partners are working together to further develop the local science and technology workforce. HCC began offering a Biotechnology Associate of Applied Science Degree program in 2007 and enrollment numbers continue to increase. For the fall 2010 semester, HCC's biotechnology program had 43 degree-seeking students and 9 certificate-seeking students enrolled.
To support the increased interest and growth in the program, currently, HCC is constructing a new $35 million Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) building to be ready for spring classes in January 2012. In addition, the college is using recently awarded grants from the National Science Foundation as well as BRAC to accelerate the development of a biotechnology educational path that exposes high school students to college-level biotech opportunities.
The biotechnology educational path includes the InnovaBio-MD program, a state-of-the-art biotechnology research and internship program that collaborates with Fort Detrick research agencies and private biotech firms and engages students in actual research projects on the HCC campus. These efforts will help keep pace with the predicted workforce development needs that will accompany high-tech industry growth.