New commission to frame state’s business development agenda

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Three GBC members will serve on a commission created by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., and House Speaker Michael E. Busch to study the state’s economic development structure and incentive programs.

The two legislative leaders last week announced members of the private-sector-driven commission, a major element of their joint legislative business and economic development agenda, which was announced in January.

Many of the objectives of the joint legislative agenda parallel the Greater Baltimore Committee’s priorities for creating a more competitive environment for business growth and job creation in Maryland.

GBC board members Jon Laria, managing partner of Ballard Spahr LLP, and Calvin Butler, newly appointed CEO of BGE, were named to the commission as was Mary Ann Scully, president and CEO of Howard Bank and member of the GBC’s President’s Advisory Council.

The commission, to be chaired by Norman Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, is being asked to offer recommendations to Miller and Busch in December.

For a complete list of commission members, click here.

“The competition for jobs and economic development will no longer be limited to Maryland versus our sister states. It is going to be a global competition,” Miller said in a press release. “We are asking for the expertise of these distinguished individuals because we don’t want Maryland to merely ‘compare favorably’ to other places in the world. We plan to be at the forefront of the innovation economy of the future.”

The GBC has driven a competitive agenda since 2010, when it published its report, “Gaining a Competitive Edge,” which outlines eight core pillars of competitiveness:

  1. Government leadership that unites with business as a partner
  2. Workforce that is highly-educated and meets Maryland’s business needs
  3. Regulatory policies that are streamlined, stable and predictable
  4. Tax structure that is fair and competitive
  5. Competitive costs of doing business
  6. Superior transportation infrastructure with reliable funding mechanisms
  7. Strategic and effective state investments in business growth
  8. Business marketing strategy that is aggressive, coordinated, long-term, and well-funded

Last year, the GBC issued “A Compact for Competitiveness,” a consensus report of recommended policy priorities compiled by business leaders at the GBC’s inaugural Chesapeake Conference of CEOs in June 2013.

Miller and Busch’s joint legislative business and economic development agenda is intended to place measures for economic development support and strengthening the business climate at the top of the General Assembly’s priority list.

Here’s a status report on key measures before the General Assembly that stem from the joint legislative agenda:

Reduced-tax zones. The GBC supports HB 742 /SB 600, “Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone Program.” The bill encourages business investment by offering tax incentives for those operating in certain districts. Status: SB 600 has passed second reading with amendments in the Senate. HB 742 is before the House Ways and Means Committee, which heard testimony on March 5.

Cyber seed investment fund. The GBC supports HB 740/SB 603, “Economic Development-Maryland Technology Development Corporation – Cybersecurity Investment Fund,” which  establishes a cybersecurity investment fund in the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) to provide seed and early-stage funding for emerging technology companies in Maryland focused on cybersecurity and to maximize corporate investments. Status: HB 740 has passed the House and is before the Senate Finance Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 25.  SB 603 has passed the Senate and is before the House Economic Matters Committee.

Matching private-sector funding for university research endowments. The GBC supports the “Maryland E-nnovation Initiative Program” proposed in HB 741/SB 601. The program will help the process of scientific research funding at degree-granting institutions of higher education. Status: SB 601 has passed the Senate and is before the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. HB 741 is before the samecommittees.

Recoupling Maryland’s estate tax to federal criteria to ease the tax’s burden. The GBC supports HB 739/SB 602, “Maryland Estate Tax – Unified Credit.” The legislation proposes raising, over a four-year period, Maryland’s threshold for taxing estates from $1 million currently to the federal estate tax threshold of more than $5 million. Status: HB 739 has passed the House. Both bills are now before Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

Improved transparency on tax forms.  HB 743/SB 604 would require information on each state tax form showing how tax dollars are being spent. Status: HB 743 has passed the House. SB 604 has passed the Senate and is before the House Ways and Means Committee.

We’ll keep you posted on progress in Annapolis toward making Maryland more competitive.

Best wishes,
Donald C. Fry
GBC President & CEO 

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