Gov. Wes Moore has chosen a former Facebook lobbyist who currently serves as director of state regulatory policy for Netflix to lead a new economic development advisory group in the governor’s administration.
Will Castleberry, who also served in several roles in former Maryland Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening’s administration before going on to work for major tech companies, will become the chairman of the new Maryland Economic Council, which Moore established Thursday with an executive order.
Both before and after taking office in January, Moore pledged to make significant investments in many areas of Maryland’s economy. He said the new council will be tasked with charting those areas of focus for his future budget and legislative proposals.
It will begin meeting in the coming months to “develop an economic strategy that will help to guide this administration going forward,” he said to a small crowd of business leaders and entrepreneurs at the Baltimore office of Fearless Tech, a software development company.
“Gone are the days when we’re going to have ‘open for business’ as a slogan without an action to back it up,” Moore said, referring to the state motto under his predecessor, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. “This new council will help us to build a robust economic strategy that our state needs and that our state deserves and our entrepreneurs and our business owners need and that they deserve.”
At least three of Moore’s cabinet secretaries will be on the council — Secretary of Commerce Kevin Anderson, Budget Secretary Helene Grady and Labor Secretary Portia Wu. Other members will include “subject matter experts” who have the pulse on Maryland’s economy, such as economists, community leaders, and both large and small business owners, the governor said.
Castleberry, whose position at Netflix is director of state regulatory and production policy, previously spent a decade at Facebook, where he managed the social media company’s state policy office from 2012 to 2022. His resume also includes managing public policy at AOL and economic development roles under Glendening, who served from 1995 to 2003.
Maryland Policy & Politics
A supporter during Moore’s campaign who gave the maximum $6,000 donation, Castleberry also served on the governor’s transition team between the election last November and his inauguration in mid-January.
“There’s a clear and compelling case why this is so badly needed,” Castleberry said, adding it was “inexcusable” that Maryland ranked 47th in economic development by one measure but was home to assets that businesses should covet for their locations — like the educated workforce and infrastructure like BWI and major highways and rail lines.
“There’s something wrong that we’re seriously missing,” Castleberry said, arguing the state hasn’t had a “cohesive plan to talk about those assets.”
Moore laid out a broad vision for how he foresees the state focusing its resources, saying the state should collaborate with quantum computing companies, work with clean energy firms and use educational institutions like the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and historically Black colleges and universities to “build new career pipelines.”
Both Moore and Castleberry referred to the potential for large investments in certain areas with Castleberry adding that, just like the private sector, there is the potential for mistakes.
“If we’re going down a path and we recognize quickly that it’s not the right path, we’re gonna call it out. We’re gonna stop and we’re going to go in another direction,” Castleberry said.
Castleberry and other members of the council will not be paid for their work, though some taxpayer funds will go toward the group’s work, according to the governor’s office.