FREDERICK – Maryland organizations of all sizes have secured more than $4.5 billion and directly created 4,464 jobs as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, even as economic indicators across the state continue to lag.
Maryland’s unemployment rate has hovered around 7.2 percent since May, double the October 2007 rate of 3.6 percent and nearly double that of a year ago, 4.8 percent.
Foreclosure statistics across the state also are still climbing. Maryland holds the 10th-highest rate in the nation according to RealtyTrac, a company that tracks nationwide foreclosures. One in every 16,867 properties in Maryland is facing foreclosure, a frequency higher than all surrounding states.
Even though the numbers look grim, Carmen Reinhart, a public policy professor at the University of Maryland, thinks the stimulus helped slow the economy’s dive.
“I think the recession would have been worse absent the stimulus,” Reinhart said. “The fact that we observe in nearly every sector some worrisome signs, shouldn’t be taken as a sign our fiscal policy doesn’t work.”
Hundreds of Maryland organizations who rushed to secure loans, grants and contracts funded by the recovery act have derived some benefit from the legislation.
The largest contract awarded a Maryland company, according to the ARRA web site, was a $300 million grant to SAIC-Frederick. The Frederick-based subsidiary of SAIC develops new technologies and treatment for people with cancer or AIDS.
Clark Construction Group of Bethesda is the 13th-largest general contractor in the country, according to Engineering News Record. In August, it was awarded $182 million for recovery projects ranging from the design and construction of a Coast Guard Headquarters building to repairing the Jefferson Memorial seawall. Earlier this year, Clark completed a $41.7 million addition to University of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium in College Park.
But smaller Maryland businesses were also able to secure recovery money, including an aerial photographer, a veteran-owned contractor and a cosmetology school, for example.
Photo Science of Bowie is the aerial photographer. In July, it won a $317,539 contract to help update the Great Lakes nautical charts by mapping the American coastline by plane. According to company vice president Kurt Allen, some U.S. shorelines have not been mapped for 100 years, posing a potential safety risk for boaters. Photo Science also won contracts for future work that pushed its recovery total over $2 million.
A contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs was won by Done Deal General Construction and Electrical located in Upper Marlboro. Owned by Ed Wilson, a disabled veteran, Done Deal is responsible for installing new fire alarms at the Perry Point VA Medical Center.
Some ARRA recipients like Blades School of Hair Design in California, Md., were not even aware they were receiving recovery funds. Blades School is receiving $101,080 of the $2.6 million awarded to cosmetology schools across Maryland. The funds are listed as grant programs.
That funding has had an impact, Reinhart said, and should continue.
“I think you’ll see two sets of opinions, those that expect a very robust rebound in economic activity which would call for more fiscal restraint,” Reinhart said. “Then there are those, of which I fit in, that view recovery as far more fragile and less robust and feel it is too early to pull the plug.”