O'Malley calls for economic 'transformation'

Governor launches five-year plan for growth

April 14, 2011|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

Invoking maritime metaphors and an ode to surfing, Gov. Martin O'Malley joined members of the Maryland Economic Development Commission on Thursday to announce a five-year plan to create and retain jobs.

O'Malley said the proposal, set in motion amid the "headwinds and choppy seas of what has been the most challenging economy since the Great Depression," focuses on what he called "core strategies" to position Maryland for growth in key sectors, including life sciences, cybersecurity, and federal and military operations.

O'Malley said it was imperative to make it easy to do business in the state by helping companies get through "redundant and antiquated regulatory hurdles" and identifying "high-growth sectors" in need of skilled labor and investment.

"We do what we've always done," O'Malley said, "which is to paddle as hard as we can to the front of that wave and catch it."

O'Malley cited as a crucial step the General Assembly passage this week of Invest Maryland, a $75 million venture capital fund to support new businesses.

The governor's audience included Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and members of the commission, which officials said developed the growth plan over 18 months with input from more than 250 business owners.

O'Malley made the remarks on an unfinished floor of the new John G. Rangos Building, part of the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore — a location chosen, he said, to highlight Maryland's high-tech advantages.

O'Malley visited Cureveda, a company that focuses on developing drugs to treat respiratory diseases, and announced that two other tenants will be moving into the building next month: Inostics and Personal Genome Diagnostics, both focused on cancer drug development.

O'Malley pointed out a window toward a vacant lot across the street and spoke of the $175 million public health laboratory that the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plans to build there later this year.

"In the fight for our economic future, we are in a battle for jobs and opportunity," he said. "To create and save jobs, we must educate, we must innovate, and we must rebuild and restore our infrastructure. It's the only way to win the future in this changing new economy."

He said such initiatives are crucial even "in this time of cynicism and sometimes unabashed hatred of our government."

The state, he said, is already in a good position for expansion, and must get over its "pathological modesty."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Milken Institute and the Kauffman Index, he said, have all ranked Maryland in the top three states for innovation, science and its "ability to win in the new economy."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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