Maryland's economy outpaces the nation, official tells chamber

Secretary Iannucci takes optimistic stance, but issues a warning as well

October 22, 2001|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Maryland's economy will get worse, but the state will still fare better than the rest of the nation and will be "well-situated for the future," the secretary of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development, David S. Iannucci, told a group Howard County business leaders.

At the Howard County Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, Iannucci said the state's economy is doing well despite a national economic decline since the terrorist attacks.

Maryland has suffered, with its tourism industry taking a particularly hard hit, but the state is recovering, Iannucci said.

"We have a very strong and fundamentally positive economy," he told the gathering of about 175. "Maryland continues to outpace the nation" in job growth and employment.

The state's job growth was at 1.5 percent and unemployment was at 3.9 percent in August, the latest month for which data was available. Those figures compare with 0.4 percent job growth and 4.9 percent unemployment in August for the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Iannucci warned that Maryland's figures won't hold steady.

"We will see the numbers turn worse. Our unemployment will go up, and our job growth will go down," he said. "But the fundamentals for Maryland's economy are strong. If Maryland is doing well, Howard County is doing phenomenally."

He added that the state is poised for competition in the "technology economy."

"Maryland is well-situated for the future," he said. "In the long term, we should have every reason to feel confident."

Award winners honored

The luncheon and business showcase, given by the chamber, honored the Acknowledgement of Chamber Excellence award winners for the year.

Three business leaders, a nonprofit agency and - for the first time - a chamber volunteer were honored at the function.

Chamber President Ken Williams said the winners have given a lot of support to the organization and to the community as a whole.

"It's important for us as a chamber to recognize the good stuff the business community is doing," Williams said. "If you could add up the number of hours and dollars that these organizations have contributed to the chamber and the general community, it would be tremendous."

Business person of year

Dr. David Tayman, Columbia's first veterinarian, was named business person of the year. Tayman, who started his practice in Columbia 27 years ago, realized his life's passion as a young boy after stopping to help a dog that had been hit by a car.

After graduating in 1969 at age 22, Tayman was one of the youngest practicing veterinarians in the county. He opened Columbia Animal Hospital in 1974, and eventually started and sold four other clinics to young veterinarians.

Six years ago, one of his staff members was murdered by her husband.

"It changed the perspective of my life," Tayman said. "It changed my whole sense of community. I started finding there was a need for this."

He started Pet Safe, a program at the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County that provides shelter for animals of people who leave their homes to escape abuse.

Large business of year

Apple Ford, Columbia's first car dealership, was named large business of the year. The dealership has flourished since opening in Columbia in 1994. Apple Ford grew from 62 employees and $26 million in sales its first year to 190 employees and about $80 million in sales today.

Along the way, the community has benefited from the dealership's support of community events. The chamber, Howard County General Hospital, the county hospice and the American Heart Association were among the groups that have received its support this year.

Small business of year

The small business of the year, Computer Solutions GSD, is a computer networking company that has provided internships to high school students and helped the chamber with its network.

Nonprofit agency of year

The winning nonprofit agency, Jim Rouse Entrepreneurial Fund, lends money to small and emerging businesses that are considered too risky for traditional financing. The group has provided more than $1.4 million to 23 businesses since 1992 and has helped create more than 250 jobs in the county.

Volunteer of year

Andrea Paskin, a volunteer who helped organize the chamber's Share Time and Read program, was given the group's first Chairman's Award.

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