Dominick Murray is Secretary of the Department of Business & Economic Development.
Maryland is a great place to start, run and grow a business. The parade of business friendliness reports published every year sometimes clouds that fact, but it does not change it.
The secret to Maryland’s success is simple — a highly skilled workforce, world-class research facilities, a core of high-tech industries and a growing community of entrepreneurs who are pushing the boundaries of the life sciences, cybersecurity, information technology, green energy and advanced manufacturing. And as a people, we are committed to making the smart, targeted investments to build on our strengths, shore up our weaknesses and make the future even brighter for our children and theirs.
Those investments are already paying off.
Maryland has recovered 97 percent of the jobs that were lost during the recession, compared to only 67 percent for the nation as a whole. In the first quarter of this year, Maryland created 22,000 jobs at the fastest rate in the region and the fourth-fastest rate in the nation. Maryland’s dynamic private sector led that job growth, creating more than 92% of our new jobs. Maryland’s unemployment rate is at a four-year low for the second consecutive month.
Maryland is the unquestioned epicenter of cybersecurity, a distinction reinforced by the recent announcement of partnerships between the state, federal government and industry leaders Intel, Cisco, McAfee, and others in the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. The state is also a hub of life sciences innovation and discovery, home to the 2nd-largest per-capita cluster of bioscience companies in the country. We created more STEM jobs than all but five other states in the nation over the past decade.
Recently, Chief Executive magazine ranked Maryland No. 41 in its “Best & Worst States for Business Report.” The ranking is disappointing. But, it deserves context.
Just a week earlier, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hardly a mouthpiece for Democratic administrations, released its annual “Enterprising States” report ranking Maryland #1 for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the second year in a row. The Chamber has also ranked Maryland in the Top Ten for Growth and Economic Performance every year since they began publishing the study. The Milken Institute ranks our State #1 in research and development per capita and #2 for science and technology assets. The nonpartisan group The States Project says we’re #2 for economic opportunity and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation ranks us among the five states best positioned to succeed in the new economy.
While taxes are a frequent point of comparison between states, Marylanders have the 3rd-lowest state and local tax burden, adjusted for income, according to the non-partisan Federal Funds Information for States. The Council on State Taxation’s 2012 report found state and local business tax revenue was just 3.8 percent of private sector gross state product, the sixth-lowest rate in the country. And Maryland has still managed to make record investments in education, infrastructure and entrepreneurs. Our schools have been ranked No. 1 in the country for five years running by Education Week and we have done more than any other state in the nation to hold down the cost of college tuition according to The College Board. Maryland boasts a high quality of life and we are making new investments in our highways, bridges, trains, buses, port and airport so people spend less time on the road and more time where they actually want to be.
Last year, the State embarked on the largest venture capital initiative in its history. Through the innovative InvestMaryland program, Maryland raised a record $84 million to invest in promising, young companies. These are the companies developing the next generation of products and services that will cement Maryland’s place as an economic force, and a leader in innovation, discovery and prosperity. This Legislative Session, under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, we chose to expand our biotechnology and R & D tax credits, create a new cyber tax credit and streamline our public-private partnership process to encourage private investment in Maryland’s infrastructure.
Maryland is committed to making this State both the best place to live, and for businesses large and small to thrive. Together with our community of hard-working and innovative business owners, we can make that a reality. And as groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fast Company and the Milken Institute recognize, we are well on our way.