The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Dec. 6 report titled “Gaining the Competitive Edge” sends a clear message that Maryland needs to do more in establishing a business climate that will help us compete successfully for businesses wanting to start or expand here or move to the Free State.
We couldn’t agree more.
The report lists eight “pillars” to our economy and reels off a checklist of action steps.
Specifically, Maryland needs to do more to fix the “now-chronic disconnect” between the perception of its business climate and the reality. Maryland needs to do more to partner with the business community, not treat it as an adversary. Maryland needs to do more to cultivate a work force that’s educated for the 21st-century global economy still grappling with the financial meltdown. Maryland needs to do more to streamline regulations, to craft fair tax policy, to fund transportation upgrades, to invest strategically in growth sectors, to lure new businesses to the state.
It’s a much-needed reality check at a time that demands smart and forceful action. Back in the spring Maryland lost out to Virginia in its bid to become the new corporate home for Northrop Grumman Corp. Lost was an opportunity to gain high-paying jobs and a higher corporate profile.
That the loss was mostly symbolic misses the point, as the GBC’s report illustrates.
“[T]o virtually everyone engaged in the rough and tumble world of business and economic development, the notion that Maryland’s significant strengths in technology, education, work force, and lifestyle far outweigh other factors in the tough competition among many states for business growth is, in their words, ‘fantasy not fact,’ ” write the report’s authors, GBC President Donald C. Fry and Charles O. Monk II, the GBC’s board chairman.
We applaud the GBC and other business groups in the state for trying to boost Maryland’s competitive metabolism when it comes to job creation and economic development while at the same time being realistic and responsible. They’re not simply saying “roll back taxes,” as Kathleen T. Snyder of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce pointed out in our story on the report.
But Maryland’s workplace regulations, business taxes and transportation infrastructure — and the ability to pay for transportation upgrades — have to at least be competitive with neighboring states’.
Some steps have already been taken. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development has created a task force to simplify the state’s permitting process, for example. But that is only the beginning.
We will look to the state’s business groups, the O’Malley administration and lawmakers to continue this push once the General Assembly convenes Jan. 12.