City, County, University Leaders Gather to Talk Economic Development, Quantum Ecosystem, Purple Line
Photos by John T. Consoli
Eight years after launching a grand vision to reimagine how a university and a city can work together to strengthen their shared community, local leaders and University of Maryland administrators gathered Thursday for a broad-ranging discussion of dynamic projects and objectives—completed, under way and in the planning stages—in and around College Park.
The Hotel at the University of Maryland, one of the anchors of Greater College Park, was the latest stop for The Washington Business Journal’s “On the Road” series, which hosts in-depth conversations in locations of dynamic growth around the region.
The $2 billion public-private partnership has revitalized the Baltimore Avenue corridor and communities surrounding UMD with new businesses and retail, expanded housing options and better transportation infrastructure.
The event kicked off with a chat featuring UMD President Darryll J. Pines and WBJ publisher Alex Orfinger. In it, Pines described plans to build on UMD’s research and federal partnerships to nurture a “quantum ecosystem” featuring a growing number of locally based firms engineering technology breakthroughs around a branch of physics that deals with matter at the smallest scales.
The No. 1 example, he said, is the quantum computing firm IonQ, which employs 200 people in UMD’s Discovery District, a 150-acre research park and hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“We’re at the emerging fringes of a new industry, and if everything goes well, it’ll explode,” Pines said, describing the state of Maryland’s commitment to translating science from universities and federal labs into economic growth in the model of California’s Bay Area and Boston.
In the panel discussion that followed, community leaders lamented delays to—but expressed enthusiasm for—the state’s light-rail Purple Line, which will extend 16 miles from Bethesda to New Carrollton, with five stops on or near the university.
“There's a light at the end of the tunnel,” said one of the panelists, Ken Ulman, president of the Terrapin Development Company and the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development. (The others were David Iannucci, president and CEO of Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp.; Kenneth Young, College Park city manager; and Susan Whitney, District 2 city council member.)
As tracks extend across campus in anticipation of the transit line’s
scheduled completion in 2027, the benefit it will bring to the campus
and the region are becoming clearer, he said. The Aviation Landing
mixed-use project next to the College Park Airport and across from the
College Park Metro station, for example, is tied closely to the promise
of easy mobility and economic development the nearby Purple Line should
“As people see the Purple Line (construction progressing), they say, ‘Wow, look at what this area is about to become,’” Ulman said.
Here are some other recent developments in Greater College Park:
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