This editorial was printed at FrederickNewsPost.com on Feb. 26 and was written by Frederick News-Post staff.
We frequently hear that Maryland is a terrible state in which to do business — as measured by the findings of various institutes, magazines, indexes, etc., that examine business climate.
Turns out that there are a number of studies that look at how business-friendly Maryland is compared with other states.
Donald C. Fry, who writes for the website Center Maryland, reports that the Greater Baltimore Committee took a good look at seven of these “major business reports” — and found Maryland was all over the map.
The disparity from the state’s best rating (fifth) to its worst showing (41st) is eye-opening. In all, Maryland placed among the top 25 states nationally on three of the listings, but below 30th place in the other four rankings the committee examined.
Just how helpful are these reports’ wide-ranging findings to state policymakers trying to improve the state’s business prospects?
The answer: They can be helpful, but each study must be looked at independently, and no one study should be used to the exclusion of the others. Look at and understand them all.
Here’s an example. Fry notes that Chief Executive magazine surveyed CEOs’ perceptions, but other rankings were created from “compiling and weighing dozens of indicators ranging from technology and workforce scores to specific business tax rates.”
There do seem to be some general perceptions about Maryland that the rankings consistently support. For instance, Maryland is a higher-tax state for both personal and corporate tax rates. It also consistently scored less well when it comes to the price of utilities, energy and the general cost of doing business.
But there are positives as well, such as strong technology and innovation, a good education system and the high quality of the state’s workforce.
Fry’s conclusion: “Maryland policy makers shouldn’t focus on any particular ranking.” Instead they should “decide what qualities as a business location Maryland needs to cultivate in order to ensure that businesses that are already here can grow and thrive and that businesses elsewhere want to locate new operations here.”
To help them out, the Greater Baltimore Committee has created eight core pillars that, if implemented, would make and keep Maryland competitive in the business world. They’re all common-sense goals, such as workable regulatory policies, a competitive tax structure, and a “superior and reliably funded transportation system.” Hmm.
Politics, fiscal policy, regional interests and other factors will make building this eight-pillared business temple a real challenge. If it fails, it won’t be for lack of a good set of drawings.
Policymakers need to understand and evaluate all of the information these reports provide. Putting too much stock in any one them could create a distorted perception of what’s right or wrong with Maryland’s business climate. We suggest they take a good look at the committee’s eight pillars, which were constructed after studying all these reports and seem to offer a good way forward.
Source: Frederick News-Post