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Jul. 3, 2013

USRA To Stay in Howard County, Buys 90,000-Sq.Ft. Building at Columbia Gateway

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) recently purchased a 90,000-square-foot building in Corporate Office Properties Trust’s 630-acre Columbia Gateway business park. The acquisition means good news for Howard County, as the organization that conducts research for the U.S. Space Program had considered moving to other locations around the country.

The USRA has been located in Columbia since 1976. However, it had outgrown its small office and, last year, it started looking for new locations across the country, including Houston, Texas, where it already has a large presence, and the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area.

The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore worked together with the Howard County Economic Development Authority and state officials, and managed to convince the organization to remain and grow in Howard County. Earlier this year, the USRA decided to acquire the property in Columbia Gateway. It finalized the acquisition two weeks ago but the price of the transaction was not disclosed.

“We are pleased that USRA chose to remain in Howard County,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “Any state would have been fortunate to land USRA, but the fact that they chose to remain in Howard County shows that we have an environment conducive to growth. For more than four decades, USRA has considered Howard County its home. We are thrilled that they will continue to be here for decades to come.”

The new location will serve as the non-profit’s national headquarters. It will host scientific conferences and public exhibits, which will include artifacts from the early U.S. space program. Redesign and construction of the new facility has already started. The USRA plans to move into the new headquarters in late November and to hold a public open house in the spring of next year.

“Columbia Gateway in Howard County is the ideal location for our new national headquarters,” said Fred Tarantino, USRA President. “Close by are Federal laboratories and other premier institutions, and the quality of life Howard County affords our employees was of the utmost importance in our decision. I want to thank Howard County and its Economic Development Authority for all of the assistance they gave us as we were exploring where best to locate within the United States.”

The USRA is a non-profit organization that conducts research in astronomy, earth science, space biomedicine, space technology and computer science. It currently employs about 500 people in the United States, half of whom hold PhDs.

Photo credits: Corporate Office Properties Trust

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