An interesting collection of articles appeared in the Friday, Oct. 31 edition of The Sun each saying something positive about living in our state and city. What a welcome break from the negative doomsday discussions about life in a place we call home. They included Dan Rodricks column ("Md. business not as bad as Hogan says") and the informative article, "Baltimore-area economy stands out" by Natalie Sherman and the commentary, "When did Baltimore become so chic?" by Sarah Rose Attman.
Mr. Rodricks rightly points out that despite the "worst economic decline since the Great Depression," while the housing market tanked, major banks collapsed, businesses downsized or closed, people lost jobs and homeowners faced foreclosures, Maryland has weathered the recession in much better shape than most states in our region and across the country. Three observations reveal some interesting facts such as while there were 8,688 fewer businesses in Maryland in 2011 than there were in 2007, Virginia lost 10,579 jobs during that same period. A Towson University study "shows that from 2007 to 2011, 5,541 firms moved out of Maryland while 4,789 moved in." And finally, the study he cites indicates "Maryland business establishments show net gains of 1,854 in 2012 and 1,400 the year before." During this time period, Maryland was viewed by our detractors as unfriendly and hostile to business interests because our state leadership in Annapolis was led by anti-business tax happy Democrats, yet the facts don't bear this out.
Now let's turn our attention to the Baltimore region also led by oft-criticized Democrats who are seen as anti-business, tax-and-spend leaders. Despite the recession and economic downturn, Natalie Sherman points out in her article that "employment in the Baltimore region grew about 1.8 percent between September 2013 and September 2014." She further cites observations made by R. Andrew Bauer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond who predicted that "Baltimore will continue to outperform Maryland." Mr. Bauer observes that, "In Baltimore, employment categories such as construction, leisure and hospitality and professional and business — a grab bag category that includes the tech sector — also are showing strength." Yes, we still have serious problems that must be addressed from public safety to education, infrastructure improvements and housing development but we are headed in the right direction.
Finally, the latter observation seemed to be best summed up by Sarah Rose Attman who asked the question, "When did Baltimore become chic?" She talks about Baltimore being an affordable city to live in, the fact that job opportunities and career advancement exist and that those amenities that don't exist in Baltimore can be easily accessed in nearby areas. She concluded by observing, "All in all, I'm not saying that you should give up any dreams of moving out of town" but "when you are thinking about the next place where you might like to settle down, don't underestimate the good ol' City that Reads. It's cooler than you think." I would say the same applies to the great state of Maryland.
Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore
The writer, a Democrat, represents District 45 in the Maryland Senate.