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Building businesses in Maryland [Letter]

Consider not only the good news, but the overarching theme that was conveyed in the recent editorial, "Building a more entrepreneurial Maryland" (Jan. 27): Those of us who are determined to make Maryland a top-notch home for starts-ups and businesses of all kinds are working together toward this goal like never before. We are determined. Clearly, our legislators and Gov. Martin O'Malley are making a concerted effort to bolster diverse job growth, while advocacy groups like the Greater Baltimore Committee and TEDCO have created forums to move the discussion forward. We have great educational institutions here, from K-12 all the way through post-doctoral experiences.

But it all comes down to a couple of simple questions: What can we do to make Maryland a Silicon Valley for the Mid-Atlantic? How can we learn to think like they do out in California?

The answers go beyond statistics or trends. Really, it's this: We have to teach ourselves and our kids to think like entrepreneurs. We have to recognize the entrepreneurial potential we all have. Heck, we use it every day, whether we're students or workers, corporate or self-employed. We recognize that we have to pull ourselves up and leverage our own talents and abilities. We have to dream out loud.

At the University of Baltimore, we are teaching entrepreneurship. We're nurturing a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, one that goes from newly-funded high-tech firms to new service industries and from venture capitalists to business owners peeling off parts of their successful companies for others to run. In this ecosystem, "keep it in Maryland" is a key message.

Out in Silicon Valley, they've learned how to grow business and harvest its success. They thrive by planting these seeds. We can do that, too. We're doing it in our universities and our labs. Working together, we are creating an environment in which our first-rate workforce can establish first-rate businesses and with them, first-rate jobs.

Our ecosystem is still maturing. But we are getting the hang of it, innovating and putting the Maryland stamp on all kinds of industries and sectors. All things considered, this is a great time to be in business in Maryland. I urge strong public support for our lawmakers to help the state become more entrepreneurial. It is vital to the future of each and every Marylander.

Johnetta Hardy, Baltimore

The writer is director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Baltimore.

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