We’re now more than halfway through this year’s General Assembly session, and the stakes are high. We need the help of Maryland’s business community more than ever. Now is the time to step up and make your voice heard so lawmakers in Annapolis fully understand how the proposals they are considering will impact Maryland businesses.
Since day one of his administration, Governor Larry Hogan has made transforming our business climate and marketing Maryland as a great place to do business a top priority. Making the state unabashedly pro-jobs and pro-business is just one example of his commitment to “Changing Maryland for the Better.”
So, when I became Maryland’s Secretary of Commerce just over a year ago, I wanted to continue that positive momentum. But it quickly became clear to me that to effectively advocate for our business community, our agency needed to do a better job of explaining why economic development matters.
And why does it matter? The answer, in short, is to create prosperity for our citizens. We want to work in partnership with our businesses to create meaningful new jobs with pathways to valuable careers in our state so the people who fill them can build better lives for themselves and their families. This is something I’ve been calling “prosperity with a purpose,” and it’s become our guiding principle at Maryland Commerce.
It’s a message I’ve taken across the state this year as I’ve met with our stakeholders, and it’s a message that I’m hammering home to legislators during the General Assembly session as we fight for the needs of our business community.
We must preserve the resources and tools that Maryland uses to attract, retain and grow our businesses, particularly our tax credit and financing programs. These programs play an important role in what gives Maryland a competitive edge.
The debates over our programs have attracted the attention of decision-makers from businesses all over the country. If they see that Maryland is even considering getting rid of incentives or business assistance programs—it hurts us. Even conversations and debates make us a less attractive place to bring a business, or open a new facility and these decision-makers will soon start looking elsewhere.
We need our companies—from our small businesses and startups to our biggest established corporations—to help us tell our story by telling theirs.
Call your lawmakers and invite them to visit. Post about what you do and why it matters on social media. Write letters to the editor. Tell the world—what’s your purpose? What does your company do for Maryland? How do you serve your clients? Who are the people you employ, and how are you helping them advance their careers?
It is imperative that we stay on this course, which has helped bring more than 149,000 new jobs to Maryland over the past five years and driven our unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent—the lowest level in more than a decade.
We must not lose any ground this session. We can’t afford to.