"I'm going to be looking for employment in about 2 1/2 half years," term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley told a roomful of young entrepreneurs in the state house this morning. "Take my phone call if I call you."
The governor did some networking, but the morning state house event was meant to inspire and reward Marylanders who take business ideas into the marketplace. Winning ideas included wallets made from duct tape (made by a 13-year old boy) and a webtool that allows a person to buy a friend a beer without being present (called beergivr).
O'Malley gave brief remarks and hit some of his favorite themes: The importance of government investment in education and creating an environment friendly to small businesses. The governor has long sought to close what he sees as a troubling gap between high amounts of funds for research and development in Maryland and low numbers of start-ups here.
He took a swipe at critics who've blasted him for raising income taxes to fund education and other government programs. "We could live within our means," O'Malley said. "But then our kids wouldn't be able to."
The contest was also designed to highlight O'Malley interest in technology. Contestants pitched their ideas using Pinterest, a newish internet fad.
Each first place winner received a new MacBook Air. Runners up won iPads. They include a young woman who created a discreet breast pump for new mothers and a woman helping ex-cons find jobs. (O'Malley handed out the prizes, but they were donated by the Baltimore Angels, a Maryland investment group.)
While handing out certificates to younger contestants, O'Malley took a jab at one of his fri-enemies in politics: VA Gov. Bob McDonnell. O'Malley pointed out that Maryland gubernatorial proclamations have gold-colored seals, unlike the Virginia ones that use a bronze hue.