O'Malley joins Obama for jobs bill signing

Gov. Martin O'Malley was among Democratic leaders who joined President Barack Obama today at the White House for the signing of a bill aimed at helping small businesses.

O'Malley was invited because part of the federal bill -- a government guarantee of private loans to small businesses -- was patterned after a provision used in Maryland, according to aides to the governor.

The federal legislation will provide $1.5 billion to expand the capacity of small business loan guarantee programs that Maryland and 33 other states and U.S. territories now have, according to a statement from O'Malley's office.

“Maryland was pleased to play a role in helping to craft this legislation and working with our federal partners to move it forward,allowing our small businesses to once again focus on growing and creating jobs," O'Malley said in a statement.

O'Malley has signed into law several measures meant to foster jobs and improve conditions for businesses that have struggled in a tough national economy. But the programs' effectiveness has been questionable. Two months of job losses show, as O'Malley has acknowledged, that the state has a way to go on the recovery front. 

O'Malley wrote in an August commentary in The Washington Post that the Maryland Small Business Credit Recovery Program helped "save and create more than 400 jobs." 

This week, his administration will launch a series of workshops to raise awareness about the loan guarantees.

The Sun's Jamie Smith Hopkins recently wrote about how relatively few employers have taken advantage of a $5,000 tax credit they can claim when hiring out-of-work Marylanders. In six months, 10 percent of the $20 million the state budgeted has been used. The tax credit has helped put 350 unemployed people back to work.

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