Every day, economic development professionals across our state work to attract new businesses and help our existing companies grow and expand, resulting in more jobs and stronger communities. As I've always said, economic development is a team sport, and I am proud of the hard work that has been done in every region of our state to turn our economy around and position Maryland to compete on a regional, national and global level.
Since 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan has made economic development a priority, and as a result, Maryland's economy is firing on all cylinders. The September jobs report shows that our state’s unemployment rate dropped again to 3.8 percent, a rate Maryland hasn't seen for nearly a decade, and over the year, we rank 3rd in the nation for our rate of job growth. Since January 2015, we have gained more than 130,000 jobs. Maryland has moved from 49th to 7th in a national report on economic performance, and earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Maryland the 8th best state in the nation based on factors like opportunity, infrastructure and education.
Under the Hogan administration, we’ve seen a fundamental shift in our culture and attitude and how we connect with our customers. We expanded our team of business development representatives to better assist businesses in every region of the state, as well as in key industries like life sciences, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense. We also embraced Governor Hogan’s Customer Service Promise, which is working to improve customer service across all state agencies by better training employees and tracking our progress through new performance metrics.
Working with the Maryland Economic Development Commission, Maryland Commerce put into motion an aggressive strategic plan for accelerating economic development in the state. With this plan as our road map, we launched the Maryland Marketing Partnership, which is leading the "Open for Business" brand campaign to tout Maryland as a hub of innovation and ideal place to locate or grow a business. We also created the Commerce Cabinet, comprised of the most customer-focused state agencies, which is breaking down silos and increasing collaboration on key development projects.
Our efforts are paying off. We've been able to attract dozens of companies to Maryland since 2015, including European grocery chain Lidl, which is building a regional headquarters and distribution center in Cecil County; Freshly, a New York meal distribution company that is locating its regional operations in Howard County and creating 500 new jobs; and vaccine giant GSK, which has invested $50 million in a new global vaccine research and development center in Rockville. And, we have also been successful in our growth through retention approach, retaining spice giant McCormick’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, and supporting the expansions of both Marriott Corp., which is building a new $600 million headquarters in Montgomery County, and Northrop Grumman, keeping the defense giant’s Mission Systems Division and more than 10,000 high-paying jobs in the state.
All of this hard work has positioned us well to pitch Maryland’s assets for the largest economic development opportunity in decades: the attraction of Amazon's second headquarters. Maryland has all the right ingredients — strategic location, highly-educated workforce, leadership in innovation, diverse economy, and an unmatched quality of life. As Governor Hogan has said, we are very excited about our chances of landing this project, which would have a transformational effect on our state and the region.
We know we can't be great unless we work together as a team, and many partners have supported our efforts and worked with us to grow Maryland into a stronger, healthier state. We are just getting started, and I look forward to building on this momentum and continuing to change Maryland for the better.
R. Michael Gill (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Maryland’s secretary of commerce.