Success at creating jobs for the state economy requires heavy lifting. So far this year, Maryland has been up to the task.
The nation's best-known AIDS researcher is coming to Baltimore. A Canadian company is investing $8 million in Snow Hill to put 150 people to work in a labeling plant. A health club chain is keeping its 450-person regional center in Towson and expanding. A snack-food manufacturer has reconsidered and will double its 150 jobs in Harford County. State and Montgomery County officials have made an aggressive pitch to get a home-grown biotechnology company to build its first manufacturing plant in Maryland, not Ohio.
In his first six months, Gov. Parris Glendening has focused on jobs. First, he moved to help keep McCormick's spice distribution center in Maryland. He relentlessly pursued Dr. Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, who picked the University of Maryland at Baltimore. It wasn't the best cash offer that won over Gallo & Co. in a bidding war with three other states, but the persistence and cooperative attitude of Maryland officials.
A few weeks earlier, the administration got Frito-Lay Inc. to expand its Harford plant by making a firm commitment to repeal the snack tax next year, as the company demands. Also this spring, the Bally fitness subsidiary chose Maryland over Michigan for its consolidated regional office. It took a $1.7 million incentive package to seal the deal, but Bally will be staying -- and adding 130 jobs. The state will recoup that money in a few years through additional tax revenue.
The new administration has been creative and forceful. So have local officials. A pro-business spirit has started to emerge.
Only once has the governor stumbled so far -- a horrendous decision to bail out a floundering engineering firm owned by a political supporter. There's a limit to what government can -- and should -- do to aid the private sector.
A friendlier attitude toward corporate American is already paying dividends. It shows that aggressiveness in pursuing job growth and job retention both from Annapolis and from county seats and City Hall is the best way to repair Maryland's reputation with the business community and accelerate this state's economic recovery.