Like any player, Maryland has had some wins and losses on the business and economic fronts. But things have been looking up for the state, long ranked at, or among, the top for household income and education of its workforce.
Maryland gained 34,700 jobs over the last year and the state’s unemployment rate of 4.2 percent was well below the 4.9 percent national average, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in November.
A 2016 CNBC ranking of states on business competitiveness showed Maryland’s overall rank rising to 30, up from 36 in 2015. Maryland’s rankings also moved higher in seven of 10 categories, including economy (up to 23 from 35 in 2015) and business friendliness (up to 26 from 32).
Businesses have noticed, including financial services giant Morgan Stanley.
In November, Morgan Stanley announced plans to add 800 employees, within four years, to 1,000 who already work in its offices in Baltimore. Besides its headquarters in New York, Morgan Stanley’s largest presence is in Baltimore.
In August, Under Armour, built and based in Baltimore, unveiled plans to open a warehouse and distribution center for online sales, adding 1,000 jobs at Tradepoint Atlantic, east of Baltimore.
Under Armour pointed to Baltimore’s labor force and logistics as selling points, as well as its commitment to staying in Maryland where it already employs 3,300 workers.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, said Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a not-for-profit group that works to promote Baltimore and five counties that surround the city.
“There’s no doubt the presence of Under Armour and its public involvement has raised the sights of Baltimore in the eyes of other companies,” Fry said.
When companies look at Maryland and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region, they see a diverse and well-educated workforce, world-class healthcare and schools, a high quality of life and a strategic location close to major airports and a strong port, said Fry and Steve Pennington of the Maryland Department of Commerce.
“We are moving up” and expect to announce more big companies moving in or expanding in Maryland soon, said Pennington, who directs the Division of Business and Industry Sector Development for the state’s commerce department.
Tradepoint Atlantic is being developed, on more than 3,100 acres of the former Sparrows Point steel mill site on the Patapsco River, to be a magnet for light manufacturing and as a hub for shipping by sea, rail and roadways.
In November, that project drew US Wind, which holds a lease to erect a 187-turbine offshore wind farm 12 miles east of Ocean City, to bring wind supply manufacturers to meet with Tradepoint Atlantic developers, while US Wind waits for Maryland regulators to approve energy credits needed to build the windfarm.
Tradepoint Atlantic has drawn at least eight leases, including one to FedEx Ground, which plans to open a 300,000-square-foot distribution facility there and hire 150 workers.
To the south, Maryland counties around Washington, D.C. are also attracting companies and jobs.
This summer The Donohoe Companies moved its headquarters to Bethesda from Washington, D.C. With that more than 2,000 jobs came to Maryland with the full service real estate company, which builds, manages, leases and maintains billions- of-dollars-worth of property in the region.
In February, 2U announced it would move its headquarters from Landover to Lanham and create about 900 jobs in Prince George’s County over five years. The company, which works with universities to offer online degree programs, is expected to complete that move this winter.
In September, Wedding Wire announced it would expand its headquarters in Chevy Chase. The company which connects couples with caterers, planners and other vendors, plans to add 200 jobs in Montgomery County.
Beyond urban centers, companies also announced moves and expansions which would add hundreds of jobs in central Maryland, the Eastern Shore and western Maryland.
Although critical cybersecurity, biotechnology, life sciences and health centers in Maryland have attracted many companies engaged in those spheres, “the job growth we’ve had is spread throughout [many] sectors,” Pennington said.