Counties Support Expanding Tech Internship Programs

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 527, “Higher Education – Maryland Technology Internship Program – Alterations,” on February 8, 2018. The bill enables counties to participate in the Maryland Technology Internship program.

Currently, the Maryland Technology Internship Program connects college and university students, recent graduates, and veterans with small innovative businesses in the high-growth technology sector through internships. The Program incentivizes businesses to participate by offering a stipend of up to 50% for each paid intern. HB 527 would expand the current Program by authorizing the State and local governments to participate in the same way as technology-based businesses.

From the MACo testimony:

Counties are invested in having strong and vibrant economies. A robust, well-trained, and educated workforce encourages businesses to locate to and grow in Maryland. This bill helps encourage high-achieving students at Maryland institutions of higher education to remain in the state after graduation.

The bill properly leaves the decision for establishing a program in the hands of local governments, who are best situated to determine whether a program is in their best interest. If a program is established, it requires both the county and the State to split the costs for paid interns, disbursing financial burdens and ensuring that the State is equally invested in the advancement of its students and workforce.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Future May be Bright for Renewable Energy Legislation

Maryland Matters article (2018-02-05) postulated that the future appears bright for the passage of legislation that would increase the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and create incentives for clean energy jobs.

“This is big news,” said Jamie DeMarco, campaign co-manager for the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative. “This is a ‘this-year’ game now.” …

More than 650 groups have already endorsed the clean energy measure. And with 24 senators and 73 delegates signed up to be co-sponsors so far, advocates now believe there is a chance of passing the legislation this year. …

There are no GOP co-sponsors so far, but Jamie DeMarco said he is confident that some Republican lawmakers will support the measure.

SB 732, sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman, would increase the RPS from the current 25 percent renewable goal by 2020 to a 50 percent renewable goal by 2030. The bill also includes provisions for offshore wind, incentives for green energy jobs, a study on electricity rate impacts, and a phasing out of preferences for waste to energy and waste-derived fuel technologies. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee on March 6. Delegate William Frick is expected to introduce the cross-file in the House of Delegates.

HB 878, sponsored by Delegate Shane Robinson, would taken an even more aggressive stance, setting a 100% renewable energy goal by 2035.

The article noted that the Governor Larry Hogan Administration is reviewing the legislation but has not yet taken a position.

Useful Links

SB 732 of 2018

HB 878 of 2018

Forum Explores Economic Benefits of Industrial Hemp in Maryland

A forum held in Annapolis explored legalizing industrial hemp in Maryland to reap the benefits of the plant as an agriculture commodity.

Panelists discussed findings from a report, “The Case for Hemp in Maryland: A Misunderstood Plant Takes Root Again,” and the status of hemp at the federal level and in neighboring states — Virginia and Pennsylvania — that have active industrial hemp programs.

The overarching concern was that Maryland was being economically left behind as more states pursue commercial industrial hemp programs. Among other things the plant can be used as fiber, insulation, clothing, food, fuel, and medicine. As of 2017, at least 34 stated have enacted some sort of hemp legislation and 19 are growing hemp for a growing total of 25,541 acres nationwide.

Hemp remains illegal to grow in Maryland although a bill passed in 2016 authorizes farmers to grow hemp only if and when the federal status of hemp changes.

HB 698 introduced by Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo this session, would create a pilot program authorizing the Department of Agriculture or certain higher education institutions to grow, cultivate, harvest, process, manufacture, transport, market, or sell industrial hemp in Maryland. The forum was sponsored by the Abell Foundation.

Baltimore County Launches $2.5M Workforce Initiative

Job Connector will help workers get “job ready” to fill vacancies

Baltimore County has launched Job Connector, an innovative $2.5 million workforce program designed to assure employers have a workforce ready to fill high-demand jobs in high-demand fields. With over $5 billion in new economic development projects in the County, companies are hiring, but chronic shortages of qualified workers remain in many fields.

According to a press release:

“We are bringing an employer-focused, supply-and-demand strategy to workforce development,” said [County Executive Kevin] Kamenetz.

The Job Connector Difference

Most government workforce development systems start with the job seeker. This often leads to people completing training and getting certifications in fields where there are no local job openings.

Job Connector starts by looking at the specific jobs and skills that are needed in the Baltimore region. This results in a better match between employer and job seeker, and more certain career paths for employees who want to know that their hard work and skills can lead to promotions and higher wage jobs.

“With low unemployment and a tight job market, companies are ready to hire today. Job Connector can reduce the gap between the skills job seekers have and the skills employers need,” said Kamenetz.

The County-funded initiative will start with programs in healthcare, corporate operations/customer service, and trade apprenticeships in fields allied with business growth at Tradepoint Atlantic on Sparrows Point.

Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development is partnering with employers, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), business, union and trade groups to develop flexible, rapid response training and expanded apprenticeship programs.

High Demand Jobs

Research prepared for the Baltimore County Workforce Development Board identified nine key industries that will drive 75% of the job growth in Baltimore County over the next decade: Healthcare, Corporate Operations/Customer Service, Construction, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Federal Agencies, Port/Logistics/Distribution, Education, and Information Technology.

Baltimore County’s American Job Centers at Liberty Center, Hunt Valley and Eastpoint will deploy customized tool kits to help career counselors guide job seekers to training and job openings in these high-demand fields.

“As Job Connector moves forward, we will be expanding our work with Baltimore County Public Schools and higher education partners, as well as reaching out to trade associations, the faith community and other partners to multiply our efforts,” said Will Anderson, director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Read the full press release for more information.

Governor Offers Historic Incentive Package To Lure Amazon

Amazon.com has announced that it still includes Montgomery County in the running for the new home of its second headquarters – and Governor Larry Hogan has offered more than $3 billion in tax breaks and grants and $2 billion in transportation upgrades to support the site, if selected. The 100-acre campus would be located in White Flint or North Bethesda.

Montgomery still has 19 competitors for the corporation, including Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia.

From The Washington Post

Maryland’s package, which Hogan will make public Monday morning, will require legislative approval and would dwarf any previous economic development offering in the state’s history.

“HQ2 is the single greatest economic development opportunity in a generation, and we’re committing all of the resources we have to bring it home to Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement obtained by The Post on Sunday.

MoCo Among 20 Finalists for Amazon HQ2

Montgomery County along with 19 other metropolitan areas, have made the short list for Amazon’s 2nd North American headquarters.

Amazon received 238 proposals from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but narrowed it down to these 20:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Boston, MA
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. Columbus, OH
  6. Dallas, TX
  7. Denver, Co
  8. Indianapolis, IN
  9. Los Angles, CA
  10. Miami, FL
  11. Montgomery County, MD
  12. Nashville, TN
  13. Newark, NJ
  14. New York City, NY
  15. Northern Virginia, VA
  16. Philadelphia, PA
  17. Pittsburgh, PA
  18. Raleigh, NC
  19. Toronto, ON
  20. Washington D.C.

Amazon Press Release quoted Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy:

Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.

Amazon’s final decision is expected this year, after they evaluate the proposals further.

The new Amazon headquarters will be equal to its Seattle office and is expected to create 50,000 “high-paying” jobs.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett released a statement January 18:

I am extremely pleased and proud that Amazon selected Montgomery County, Md. to enter into future discussions regarding locating their second headquarters. I want to thank Governor Hogan and his entire team for their strong support in helping to create a compelling case for the County.

 

State of the Economy: “It Depends,” Of Course

Dan White of Moody’s Analytics briefed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on state of the economy on Tuesday afternoon.

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The bottom line: the economy is still good, and even has room to grow – but don’t expect that growth to last very long.

The next two years are going to be as good as they are going to get.

White said to expect 2.8 percent growth in 2018, and less growth in 2019 – though still above 2.5 percent. He advised the Committee to ensure that the State has a healthy Rainy Day fund balance to get through the decrease in economic activity anticipated for 2019-2020.

Economic growth is anticipated to result as early as this year in response to federal tax reform. However, many provisions of the tax reform bill expire after five years, after which point, further economic growth is uncertain. Ten years from now, economic growth is not anticipated to be significantly higher than it is today if tax reform provisions remain untouched. Higher inflation and interest rates could undo any growth experienced within the next few years.

The economy has room to grow. We can still increase employment, and today’s housing market is incredibly undersupplied. This in part results from the aftershocks of the housing bubble bursting, which has led to very cautious homebuilders. It can also result from the applicable labor supply diminishing.

Durable goods have been deflating for a few years in large part because of the decrease in costs for oil and gas. This not only affects transportation costs, but costs for plastics and other materials which include petroleum as an ingredient. This may be part of the reason that 31 states missed their sales tax projections by more than 1 percent last year.

The good news is that there is nothing to indicate that a bubble is forming today. The bad news is that bad things happen when there are no indications of bubbles. We have gone about a decade without anything bad happening yet, and that is a long time. Economists expect the economy to turn significantly around 2020.

Two-Gen Commission Releases Interim Report

The Two-Generation Family Economic Security Commission, led by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, issued its interim report, proposing statewide strategies and pilot programs intended to mitigate multigenerational poverty by linking state policies, systems, and programs together to simultaneously serve vulnerable parents and children.

According to a press release:

Established in March of last year, the interagency, multidisciplinary Commission is part of a public policy initiative that seeks to break the cycle of multigenerational poverty through a family-centered approach to service delivery. The Commission’s interim report identifies early childhood development, health, education, and family economic stability as key factors to addressing this issue, in addition to aligning current services and delivery programs in a more family-centric manner.

Data show that many children who grow up in poverty or in low-income families go on to experience economic hardship as adults, and that those living in multigenerational poverty often face difficulties in making sound long-term personal and financial plans. To address these challenges, the Commission held numerous meetings across the state where they heard from Maryland families about the struggles they faced as they navigated their paths towards self-sufficiency.

The report proposes pilot programs that would include a multi-generational educational opportunity where parents and children can simultaneously receive high-quality education and training in Prince George’s County and an intergenerational community center in Dorchester County where services for seniors, parents, and children are all provided under the same roof, creating an environment where community development is fostered along with the family development.

Following an evaluation of the pilot programs, the Two-Generation Family Economic Security Commission will meet to submit a final report that will include lessons learned from the programs as recommendations to the General Assembly’s 2019 legislation session.

The full report can be accessed at http://governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor/two-generation-commission/.

State’s Rank Rises on Forbes ‘Best States for Business’ List

Maryland is inching closer to the top of Forbes “Best State for Business List” ranking in at number 26 over all. That is up from number 30 last year.

From Bethesda Magazine:

Maryland rose four spots to come in at number 26 on the business publication’s annual “Best States for Business” list this year. Forbes ranks states based on six factors—business costs, labor supply, economic climate, regulatory environment, growth prospects and quality of life. Maryland ranked seventh overall in labor supply, but was outside the top 25 in four other categories and 16th in growth prospects.

The article notes that North Carolina came in first and that West Virginia came in at last.

Read Bethesda Magazine for more information.

 

Know a Community-Enriching Business? Nominate Them for the MEDA Awards!

The Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) is taking submissions for projects that have enriched communities.

Nominations must be submitted by December 8 and meet this criteria:

  • Must be completed
  • Must have a major phase completed in the last 3 years
  • Nominations must be submitted by a MEDA member, but all submissions are encouraged

To Nominate you must:

Other things to consider:

Nominate Here.

Good Luck!