ANNAPOLIS — Cross-Potomac rivals Maryland and Virginia have markedly different backgrounds when it comes to nurturing their homegrown businesses and wooing those in other states.
Virginia, about four times the size of Maryland and with about 40 percent more residents, boasts a high-tech cluster in its Washington suburbs, defense and defense manufacturing around Norfolk and Hampton, and banking and corporate headquarters in Richmond.
Maryland is a national leader in biotechnology and leans heavily on its health care sector and government employees and contractors. Maryland saw strong growth through the recession in cyber security, a sector that state leaders hope to see grow as the federal government locates its cyber defense initiative at Fort Meade.
Virginia routinely sits atop business friendliness rankings compiled by Forbes magazine, CNBC and other groups. Maryland often runs in the middle or back of the pack, especially when it comes to taxes.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax policy research group in Washington D.C., listed Virginia as having the 12th-best business tax climate in 2011, compared to Maryland at 44th.
“They’re door-openers,” Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said of the rankings. “It’s kind of nice to walk in and say ‘Hi, I’m the best in show.’”