Don Fry Commentary on WYPR
Recently there was good news and bad news from two Maryland Fortune 500 companies.
First, Maryland’s business climate was strengthened by the November 6 announcement that Constellation Energy and the EDF Group had completed their $4.5 billion joint venture following the Public Service Commission’s approval of the transaction.
The deal paves the way for building a third nuclear facility at Calvert Cliffs that would significantly expand electricity generating resources in our state and would place Maryland at the center of a growing nuclear power industry in the U.S.
This is, indeed, very good news for Maryland business.
Meanwhile, our business community was stunned by the November 2nd announcement that toolmaker Stanley Works will acquire Maryland-based Black and Decker. The new merged company will be headquartered in Connecticut, thereby reducing the number of Fortune 500 headquarters in Maryland from seven to six.
This development had more to do with economic cycles and business opportunity than with any factors relating to Maryland’s business climate. Nevertheless, losing a Fortune 500 headquarters almost always spawns speculation about a state’s business competitiveness.
For the record, even with the loss of Black and Decker’s headquarters, Maryland’s remaining six Fortune 500 headquarters are one more than our state had three years ago in 2006. Thirty states have fewer Fortune 500 corporate headquarters than Maryland.
My point is: there are many more economic outcomes that reflect a state’s business climate than simply the number of its Fortune 500 headquarters. So let’s resist the temptation to become fixated on this one measurement.
It would be far more constructive for Maryland’s business leaders and elected leaders to achieve a consensus on what, specifically, are the most important characteristics of a good business climate. Then we could work together to fashion policies around that consensus — ensuring that Maryland is optimally competitive and well-positioned for broad business and economic success.
Now that’s an outcome well worth striving for.
For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.