ANNAPOLIS – Maryland needs to shed its image as a high-tax state and form more solid links between business and government to win jobs for its citizens, state business leaders told lawmakers Tuesday.
The Joint Committee on State Economic Development Initiatives invited more than 15 speakers to recommend ways to boost Maryland’s private sector.
“We need to really accentuate the positives of Maryland. We have great infrastructure, along with good location, access to markets and the quality and education of our workforce,” said Robert Neall, president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
Promoting Maryland’s assets would go a long way to changing the national perception of the state as a difficult place to do business, Neall said.
“We’ve got to have a growing, vibrant private sector. We need to have a competitive strategy,” Neall said.
Many of the business leaders recommended reducing both personal and business taxes.
“The state should foster growth through providing tax credits for a company’s adding new employees,” said J.D. Murphy, president of Computech Inc. of Montgomery County. “We need to enrich the business climate by rewarding success.”
Murphy was one of three representatives of the high- technology industry. Each suggested that Maryland look beyond traditional manufacturing opportunities to the potential of this new form of business.
“You should look at us as a high-growth, high-yield return investment,” said Scott Stauffer, president of Visual Networks of Rockville.
Stauffer said his company, which received about $250,000 in state aid at its 1993 startup, plans to return $5 million to the state by 1998. “I can hold our company up as a case study of how public and private partnerships can work,” Stauffer said.
Kevin O’Connor, chairman of Maryland’s AFL-CIO finance committee, said that labor and management need to cooperate for Maryland’s benefit.
“We want to be in partnership with business,” he said. “Marking Maryland as a positive place should be a priority.”
Neall, meanwhile, warned that the state could not simply declare 1996 to be the Year of Economic Development. Instead, he said, Maryland must look for long-term solutions.
“We as a state need more options to attract business,” Neall said. “We’re looking at trying to bring in more family- supporting, high-wage jobs to Maryland … That doesn’t happen overnight.” -30-