February 12, 2015

Senate President and House Speaker Announce Recommendations From Private Sector-Led Commission to Improve State’s Business Climate

In a time of global competition in the innovation economy, Maryland is “in it to win it!”

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, alongside legislative leadership, university and business leaders across Maryland, joined retired CEO and Chairman of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Norm Augustine, to receive the first set of recommendations from the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.

“Maryland has many great assets to offer employers including a well-educated workforce, our institutes of higher education, and our proximity to the federal government.” stated Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “We asked Chairman Augustine and the commission for recommendations on how we can diversify our economy, and asked them to identify and evaluate anything in our state that could hinder current or future economic growth. The State of

Maryland owes a debt of gratitude to Chairman Augustine and all the commission members for their hard work, and I look forward to working on his recommendation to make our government even more responsive to business.”

Last year, President Miller and Speaker Busch announced a Joint Legislative Business and Economic Development Agenda, which included the creation of the Augustine Commission, as well as legislation to create reduced tax zones, a new cybersecurity investment fund for early stage companies and improved tax form transparency, all of which passed into law.

“Our investments are paying off: Maryland is at the forefront of education, research, science and innovation in the country,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “We need to capitalize on these assets and ensure that Maryland is competing in the global economy and remove any barriers to existing businesses expanding and new businesses from developing. The work of this Commission is invaluable in giving the private sector the confidence to continue to invest in Maryland.”

“The Commission’s conclusion is that Maryland has not nearly reached its potential at attracting business and creating jobs,” said Chairman Norm Augustine. “President Miller and Speaker Busch have provided an important opportunity for the private sector to offer its view as to what needs to be done. Our Commission stands ready to assist in implementing the 32 recommendations we have offered.”

Five pieces of legislation will be introduced this week to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

  1. A new economic development agency structure, led by a Secretary of Commerce, with realigned economic development functions to build upon organizational strengths and to ensure the clarity of state resources.
  2. A new state customer service training program implemented out of the Governor’s Office for front-line state agencies that interact with the private sector and the public.
  3. A stronger process to determine whether new regulations have an impact on small businesses, led by an advisory commission that includes private sector stakeholders
  4. The creation of a task force to improve technology transfer from higher education into the marketplace
  5. The creation of a pilot apprenticeship program, “Apprenticeship Maryland,” to create more workforce development opportunities for young people.

The first report of the Augustine Commission, which was issued today, focused on the State’s economic development structure and incentive programs. The 10 findings and 32 recommendations presented are unanimously endorsed by the members of the Commission.  The full report can be found here.

The Commission held public meetings in 7 parts of the State involving over 100 witnesses and heard from a large number of individuals and organizations from the business, labor, government, and academic communities.

President Miller and Speaker Busch have asked the Commission to continue its work through the fall of 2015 and also examine the business tax and incentive structure in Maryland.

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