State House Update: Economic development initiatives could be important tools for job growth

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Earlier this year, the Pew Charitable Trustspublished a report predicting job creation trends for 2014. Using data from Moody’s Analytics, Pew created an interactive map showing both the anticipated number of jobs that will be created in each state and the percentage of job growth.

Of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Maryland ranked 29th highest with a projected increase of more than 40,000 jobs this year and a job growth rate of 1.55 %. This is the third highest rate of job growth projected in the region, trailing West Virginia and Delaware. It is anticipated that our neighbors in Virginia will create jobs at a rate nearly 11% slower than Maryland.

This is an encouraging report after a dismal year for job creation in 2013. While Maryland created only 20,100 jobs last year and experienced a job growth rate of less than 1%, both the number of jobs created and rate of growth was the second highest in the region.

During the current legislative session, the General Assembly has paid considerable attention on initiatives to help grow jobs and foster innovation. This week, many of the economic development bills that successfully passed one house have crossed over and are now being heard in the other legislative chamber.

House Bill 740, which establishes the Cybersecurity Investment Fund in order to provide seed funding for emerging companies focused on cybersecurity, overwhelmingly passed the House of Delegates by a vote of  95-41 and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislation establishing the Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone (RISE Zone) Program will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee.  The creation of RISE Zones, Senate Bill 600, is a key element of the joint economic development legislative package that was announced by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and Speaker Michael Busch early in the legislative session.

Senate Bill 876, sponsored by Senator Kathy Klausmeier of Baltimore County, creates a Summer Career Academy Pilot Program to provide the workforce and skills training necessary to secure sustainable employment after high school for individuals who are struggling to meet the Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards. After clearing the Senate by a unanimous vote, the bill will be presented to the House Ways & Means Committee for approval.

In 2010, the Greater Baltimore Committee issued a report entitled Gaining a Competitive Edge: Keys to Economic Growth and Job Creation in Maryland. The report highlights the need for strategic, effective state investments in business growth and the importance of education and workforce skills training as two key components to a strong competitive environment.

Many legislative initiatives being considered this year in Annapolis would be powerful “tools in the toolbox” for economic growth and job creation. As the legislative session draws to an end, it is important that legislators keep competitiveness at the forefront of their decision-making. The 2014 legislative session has produced many innovative programs that could assist in growing Maryland’s economy. The next two weeks will determine whether these initiatives will be part of our state’s future economic growth strategy.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,

Donald C. Fry

GBC President & CEO 

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