Options To Reform Business Climate Could Include Privatizing Economic Development Programs

As reported by The Daily Record, options to reform the state’s business climate could include recommendations to privatize all or some of Maryland’s economic development programs. The option of privatizing programs currently overseen by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) was discussed during the September 10 meeting of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.

“That’s clearly on the table,” Norman R. Augustine, chairman of the commission, said of privatizing the current DBED programs. “At this point we have no preferred items. We just haven’t gotten to that point.”

The option of privatizing programs was raised by during a presentation by Erik Pages of EntreWorks Consulting.  He stated that a number of states such as Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin have moved towards privatized models. However, he stated that ultimately strategy matters more than structure.

Legislative members of the Commission offer differing views on privatizing economic development programs.

Del. John L. Bohanan, D-St. Mary’s County, said privatizing some aspects of the agency could be appealing.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard and Baltimore counties and chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said he doubts privatization will appeal to most legislators.

The Commission is to complete its work and submit recommendations to the President of the Senate Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch prior to the beginning of the 2015 legislative session.

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