State and county officials broke ground Monday on a new life sciences education center at Montgomery College, which will serve as a "critical link" to the county's economic development efforts.
"That means more life-saving research, more good-quality jobs, and a better tomorrow for us all," County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said.
Set to open by the end of 2013, the $87.9 million Bioscience Education Center at the college's Germantown campus will attract medical, bioscience and technology companies to the future Science and Technology Park, which will provide educational and employment opportunities.
Holy Cross Hospital is scheduled to break ground this year for a new hospital, which will be the first on a community college campus in the United States.
The officials broke ground virtually. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and others worked a giant mockup of a dynamite plunger. An explosion appeared on the screen behind them.
"Maryland sits at the epicenter of brilliant science, innovative technology, and remarkable discoveries—our own cutting edge of history. This new building is an investment in the skills, talents and education of our people so that tomorrow's leaders can remake and heal our world," O'Malley said.
The center has been years in the making.
"Our Bioscience Education Center will offer students unparalleled education facilities that will prepare them for future careers in Maryland's innovation economy," Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard said.
The center will house courses in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, ecology, genetics and landscape technology. In addition to classrooms, the building will have study rooms, a computer lab, offices, conference space and a detached greenhouse. Its laboratories are after commercial labs, to support instruction in real-world techniques.
The center is expected to receive LEED Gold certification for its sustainable features, which includes solar photovoltaic panels, a green roof system, wind turbines, high-efficiency building systems, and water-saving plumbing features, according to the ground-breaking program.
"It is great to see this project moving forward. The Bioscience Education Center is a priority for the chamber and we have been advocating for the project for many years," said Marilyn Balcombe, president of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.