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Erickson Technology, Broadcast Divisions to Build at UMBC Research Park

UMBC announced today that Erickson Retirement Communities will construct a $20 million building at the university’s on-campus research and technology park bwtech@UMBC. Erickson will move its information technology (IT) department, its adult living national broadcast network Retirement Living TV (RL-TV) and its private charitable foundation to the 110,000 square-foot building, expected to be completed by mid-2008.

The move will increase research collaboration and internship opportunities between the Erickson organization and UMBC students and faculty in The Erickson School and visual arts, communications and information technology programs.

The Erickson School at UMBC grew out of Erickson founder John Erickson’s vision for interdisciplinary research and education to improve life for older adults. Since its start in January 2005, the School has launched an undergraduate major in management of aging services, expanded an executive education program for senior housing and care professionals and is planning a professional master’s program.

Current research partnerships between The Erickson School and the Erickson organization include developing new computer technology applications for seniors’ housing, support for three gerontology doctoral students’ studies of older adult health and well-being and proposals to make selected Erickson communities National Institute on Aging research sites.

"We look forward to expanding our partnership with UMBC in a way that will help us to more effectively shape the future of aging studies in the United States and to enhance the operational components of our company that will help to redefine it," said John Erickson, chairman and CEO of Erickson Retirement Communities.

“UMBC is delighted to strengthen our relationship with Erickson Retirement Communities,” said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “Together we will shape innovative approaches combining healthcare, public policy, information technology and communications to meet the needs and interests of the aging Baby Boom generation.”

RL-TV will house its corporate headquarters and three production studios in the new facility. The network recently signed a national broadcasting agreement with DirectTV to expand its viewing audience to over 24 million homes. Retirement Living TV produces programming focused on health, finance, politics and living for people over the age of 55. RL-TV recently partnered with UMBC’s New Media Studio to produce pilots for two programs and is expected to collaborate further with UMBC’s Imaging Research Center and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Erickson’s IT department will work with UMBC on advanced research in health informatics, real time data applications, information assurance, data security and wearable computing. The department will move 60 professionals and a high bandwidth data center to the new building and is expected to hire 10 to 15 UMBC graduates per year as the company grows.

Founded in 1998, the Erickson Foundation funds research projects aimed at improving best practices in active aging and aging with choices. The Foundation is currently conducting research on walking studies, ergonomics, balance control, nursing, memory and other senior wellness and lifestyle issues.

The Erickson facility will be the fifth bwtech@UMBC building. Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of the UMBC Research Park Corporation, says demand for office and lab space at UMBC remains strong.

"Many outside businesses and emerging tech firms from our incubator continue to express interest in locating on our campus," Hemmerly said. "We continue to welcome companies that seek all the advantages of growing their business at UMBC."

Construction is underway for the park’s third building, a new home for the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) MD/DE/DC Regional Water Science Center. Ground is expected to be broken for the fourth building -- an 110,000 square-foot, $22 million multi-tenant facility-- in the first half of 2007. Both the USGS and multi-tenant buildings are being developed by Corporate Office Properties Trust.

About Erickson:

John Erickson launched Erickson Retirement Communities with the 1983 opening of Catonsville, Maryland’s Charlestown, now the nation’s largest campus-style retirement community. Today, Erickson Retirement Communities operates 16 campuses housing more than 18,000 people in eight states. Two more communities are set to open in the near future. The company is noted for its progressive approach to recruitment, training and development, and has broadened its business lines with the addition of a managed health plan for residents. Mr. Erickson has also shown his commitment to the interests of individuals over the age of 55 with his September 2006 launch of Retirement Living, a television and Internet media company. More information is online at www.EricksonCommunities.com and www.RL.TV.

About bwtech@UMBC:

bwtech@UMBC is a state-of-the-art, 41-acre research and technology community. UMBC began planning for a new research and technology park in the early 1990s, based on the success of other U.S. parks and the vision of the late Michael Hooker, UMBC president from 1986-1992. The first building was completed in 2001. To date, UMBC’s research park and technology incubator have received public and private sector funding from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, the U.S. Department of Commerce, The Abell Foundation, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO.) bwtech@UMBC is part of Baltimore County's Southwest Enterprise Zone, making companies moving to the park eligible for credits on real property and income taxes, as well as credits for job creation.

Posted: November 20, 2006, 12:00 PM