Mason Campus Anchors Development in Prince William County

Posted: January 9, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Halpin

Prince William County, Va., is booming with innovation, and Mason is leading the way.

Mason’s high-tech, biotech Prince William Campus, located in the Innovation@Prince William Technology Park, will soon be home to the George Mason University Biomedical Research Laboratory (BRL), which will be administered by the university’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. Construction is slated to begin later this year.

bio lab site

Mason’s new Biomedical Research Laboratory and the Northern Virginia Forensic Lab will be located at this site.

In September 2005, Mason was awarded $25 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to construct the regional biocontainment laboratory. The BRL will contain a biosafety level-3 laboratory to develop techniques and products for detection, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases that either result from biological terrorism or arise naturally.

In addition, Mason will have some very innovative neighbors when several new major construction projects are completed.

Anchored by George Mason’s life science campus, Innovation@Prince William is a 1,500-acre business and technology park targeting biotechnology, life science and supporting industries that has grown since its inception in 1992 to become the place to be for biotech industry leaders.

“The rapid development of the next phase of Innovation@Prince William is proof positive of the remarkable foresight of the leadership and, frankly, political courage, of Prince William County, the City of Manassas and Mason to stick with the master plan for what has evolved as ‘university-centered economic development’,” says Larry Czarda, vice president for regional campuses at Mason.

Czarda cites as evidence Prince William County winning the coveted and highly contested 2006 Corenet Global Award for best practices in local economic development policies.

The county has encouraged such development projects as the Northern Virginia Forensic Lab, which is relocating from its current location in Fairfax, Va., to a much larger state-of-the-art facility adjacent to the Prince William Campus.

The 10-acre, $40-million facility is being developed under the Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act and will house forensics and medical examiners. The university and Prince William County will have a partnership with the new lab.

The pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has broken ground on a new insulin manufacturing facility down the road from the Prince William Campus. This new facility will formulate, fill and package various medications that are used worldwide in the treatment of diabetes. The company’s ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of diabetic patients is the driving force behind its new facility in Prince William County.

Eli Lilly building
The new Eli Lilly building is going up within sight of the Prince William Campus.

By the end of 2007, the FBI will relocate its Northern Virginia Resident Agency to a site just across the street from Mason’s campus. This is the first major government office to relocate to Prince William County.

The building, scheduled to open in December 2007, will feature a fitness center and a heavily landscaped outdoor area with jogging paths and a picnic area next to a meadow and a small stream.

FBI site
A steel framework is already up at the site of the new FBI Northern Virginia Resident Agency building.
Photos by Karen Pirhalla

Mason’s newest neighbor is the Paul T. White Jr. Western District Police Station, which opened near the university’s Freedom Center Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas. The building is named after the officer who was the first Prince William County police officer killed in the line of duty in 1973. The station will be staffed and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will have a force of more than 200 officers.

Czarda expects this growing trend to continue.

“Within the next 24 months, the number of highly professional technical and scientific jobs, as well as gross square footage of state-of-the-art facilities surrounding the Prince William Campus, will literally double,” he says.

And he isn’t even counting the anticipated groundbreaking for the Community Performing Arts Center scheduled for later this year and a possible expansion of the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in the next few years.

“Stay tuned,” says Czarda. “The best is yet to come.”

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