Federal, State and County officials gathered at Montgomery College's Germantown campus this morning to break ground on a new BioScience Education Center.
"It’s a great day for our county and the state of Maryland," said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Former County Councilmember Mike Knapp, who advocated for the center for several years during his time in office, said “after conversations that started eight or nine years ago, getting the proper funding in place, leadership and encouraging the County to make it a top budget priority, here we are today.”
Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and the Montgomery College Board of Trustees helped federal, state, county elected officials and business partners break ground for the center, which will feature science classrooms and laboratories on the school’s Germantown Campus.
The Bioscience Center coupled with the new Holy Cross Hospital—slated to break ground this year and be the first hospital in the country on a community college campus—is expected to bring 57,000 jobs to the area, according to Kevin Sexton, Holy Cross Hospital President and CEO.
"Our Bioscience Education Center will offer students unparalleled education facilities that will prepare them for future careers in Maryland’s innovation economy," said Dr. Pollard, president of Montgomery College. "We are truly grateful for the support of our elected officials, who have helped make the building possible."
Former Montgomery College President Hercules Pinkney said "after ten years of hard labor and a lot of support from the County and the business community, the vision now has a purpose for our community and students."
Joining Leggett was Governor Martin O’Malley, State Sen. Nancy King of Montgomery Village, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Senior Vice President Human Resources of Human Genome Sciences Susan Bateson, who all echoed the same thoughts: the Bioscience Center is a "good investment" in the midst of the soured economy.
"Montgomery College's Bioscience Education Center is one more critical link in strengthening this county's future in the biosciences," said Leggett. "That means more life-saving research, more good-quality jobs, and a better tomorrow for us all."
The center is scheduled to open by the end of 2013. The total cost—shouldered by the state and Montgomery County—will be $87.9 million. The center is expected to receive LEED Gold certification and have several "green" features.
“This Bioscience Education Center will bolster our region’s reputation as a hub for biotechnology and innovation," said Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). "By offering a world-class environment to educate and retrain the bioscience workforce, the Center will help keep our community, and our nation, at the cutting edge of research and discovery."
"It is great to see this project moving forward," said Marilyn Balcombe, President of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. "The Bioscience Education Center is a priority for the Chamber and we have been advocating for the project for many years."
State Sen. Nancy King thanked O’Malley for "going above and beyond" with his support for the bioscience center project and said, "we would not be here today if not for O’Malley and his support."
Biology, biotechnology, chemistry, ecology, genetics, and landscape technology courses will be offered in the new center.
"The new Montgomery College-Germantown Bioscience Education Center will help provide the educational opportunities necessary for the College to keep pace with its growing enrollment and emerging technology," said Montgomery Council President Valerie Ervin. "Montgomery County is committed to advancing bioscience research and development, so we have to provide our students will the tools to make that next great discovery. Montgomery College’s new facility will have a tremendous impact."
What’s next for the campus?
As the anchor tenant for Montgomery College’s Science and Technology Park, Holy Cross Hospital will attract other medical, bioscience, and technology companies to the park, providing learning experiences for students and jobs for the community.
The school serves nearly 60,000 students a year in more than 100 areas of study.
For information about Montgomery College, visit www.montgomerycollege.edu.