'Maryland Goes to Work'

November 15, 1991

Maryland has serious and systemic money problems tied to tTC slowed growth and catastrophic upheavals in banking and real estate. There's a pervasive uneasiness among businesses and consumers that things may get worse. But Gov. William Donald Schaefer has refused to join the nay-sayers. He has embarked on an upbeat "Maryland Goes to Work" plan to accelerate state construction projects and pump more money back into the economy.

Clearly, building roads, sewers and schools won't solve all of Maryland's problems. But the governor's New Deal-style initiative creates a small pocket of economic activity and, equally important, provides a psychological boost that may encourage consumer and business spending.

"The recession has hurt the Maryland economy just as it has in every other state," Mr. Schaefer told a group of merchants at Owings Mills Mall yesterday. "What can we do?" he asked. "We need to take the initiative ourselves."

While the state's hands are tied when it comes to prodding the stalled real estate market or halting sharp declines in personal income, it can still harness government's considerable resources to generate economic momentum. "Maryland Goes to Work" calls for cutting through red tape to jump-start 142 capital projects worth about $270 million on the drawing boards. These projects have already been approved and funded. Mr. Schaefer is simply shortening the preparation time. This means work for construction companies, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers -- and perhaps thousands of jobs. The governor has also enlisted the state Chamber of Commerce to work with retail chains, hotels and restaurants on offering incentive plans to stimulate discretionary spending between now and the end of the year.

The recession's impact on the psyche of businesses and consumers has been deadly. Even those fortunate enough to have escaped economic contractions have turned so cautious they are choking off economic activity. Mr. Schaefer's efforts might just get Maryland moving again.

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