ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- U.S. Army leaders, elected officials and defense contractors were on hand at the Jan. 20 opening of the Government and Technology Enterprise, a 416-acre complex known as The GATE near APG's gate on Maryland Boulevard.

APG leases the land to St. John Properties, and the installation uses the rent for renovation, maintenance, demolition and construction of government buildings.

Gary Martin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command executive deputy to the commanding general, represented APG leadership at the ceremony and said the complex will help the Army achieve its priorities.

Growing robust science and engineering educational programs in Maryland is a key initiative for Martin and Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, APG and RDECOM commanding general.

"We are undertaking an effort to try to synchronize across the county all of our engagements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," Martin said. "[We are trying] to bring government, education leadership in Harford County, higher education, and industry together to figure out how we are going to generate this pipeline of scientists and engineers that will be required to feed the activities here at Aberdeen Proving Ground for the future."

St. John Properties will develop 2 million square feet of office, retail and research and development space over the next 10 years, said Matt Holbrook, the company's director of federal programs.

Raytheon is the first company to occupy the complex. Defense contractors CACI International, L-3 Communications and Boeing have signed leases, according to news releases from St. John Properties.

U.S. Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, representing Maryland's 2nd Congressional District, said the development is welcome news during tough economic conditions.

"This is what BRAC is all about," he said. "The high-paying jobs that are coming in this economy are going to bode well for Harford County, the state of Maryland and our country."

Ruppersberger said the growth at APG because of the Base Realignment and Closure will improve quality of life for Harford County residents and put money into schools, infrastructure and parks.