Greater Baltimore Committee proposes tax credit for businesses locating in research parks

The Greater Baltimore Committee is urging state lawmakers to create a tax credit for businesses that locate at research parks affiliated with one of Maryland’s higher education institutions.

Legislation that would create the tax credit, SB 739, has been filed by Senator Nathaniel J. McFadden, D-Baltimore City, and is before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The bill would award a state income tax credit to companies moving into an eligible research park. The credit would be an amount equal to a company’s cost associated with locating in the park.

The bill will be cross-filed in the House of Delegates by Del. Dan K. Morhaim, D-Baltimore County.

The legislation was suggested by the GBC, the region’s most prominent organization of business and civic leaders, to help nurture start-up and emerging bioscience companies in Baltimore and Maryland.

“Our bioscience business community is largely comprised of start-ups and early-stage companies. This bill is the bioscience business equivalent of giving new homeowners a tax break to encourage ownership,” said GBC president Donald C. Fry. “It’s a sound investment because as companies grow, they’re going to contribute to the tax base.”

The tax credit would cover costs including installation, construction and equipping space in a research park and the first six months of rental or leasing cost, according to the legislation. The bill also would cap the tax credit awards at $4 million per year.

The tax credit proposal for new research park tenants is among a half-dozen bioscience-related measures the GBC, the region’s most prominent organization of business and civic leaders, is urging the General Assembly to pass during the 2006 legislative session.

“Bioscience business development activity is accelerating in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and people elsewhere are noticing. Our higher education institutions and our location near Washington-area federal agencies serve as a catalyst for this growth,” said Fry. “This year is an extremely opportune time for Maryland’s government to make a strong, visible commitment to nurturing the growth of the bioscience sector in our state.”

Supporting bioscience industry growth is one of the GBC’s top strategic priorities for the Baltimore region. The organization has been a leading advocate for the development, now under way, of life sciences research parks on Baltimore’s east and west sides affiliated with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Baltimore respectively.

The GBC also works closely with the University System of Maryland, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute to develop biotechnology business growth based on the substantial amount of research performed at higher education institutions in the state.

Strengthening the life sciences sector has been a long-time focus of the GBC. In the 1990s, the GBC was the first business organization to target bioscience as a major future growth opportunity and job generator for the Baltimore region as its traditional manufacturing base recedes.

In addition to its proposed tax credit for new biopark tenants, other GBC bioscience priorities in Annapolis this year are:

Dedicating $20 million to the state’s broader biotechnology investment tax credit that was passed last year with no predictable funding mechanism;
Raising the cap for research and development tax credits from $6 million to $12 million;
Strong state funding support for the University System of Maryland’s nano-biotechnology research and development initiative;
Commitment of significant state funding for stem cell research;
Continuing strong state investment in the region’s developing life sciences research parks.

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