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Maryland’s 4 out of 500 is Not Good Enough

2014 State Business Tax Climate Index

2014 State Business Tax Climate Index

Something is very wrong in Maryland. Recently I was looking at the Fortune 500 list and was shocked to see that only 4 of the 500 biggest companies in America claim the Free State as home: Lockheed Martin (#59), Marriott (#219), Discovery Communications (#460), and Host Hotels (#477). Not only is it below average, but it is also significantly below Pennsylvania (21 companies) and Virginia (22 companies).

Why wouldn’t you want to base a company in Maryland?  According to the latest U.S. Census data, Maryland has one of the most educated workforces in the nation.  The cost of living is lower than the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area (a rating of 119 versus 143).  Maryland is home to nationally recognized universities like Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and UMBC (my alma mater!), an in close enough proximity to schools in DC, Northern Virginia, Delaware, and Philadelphia.  Speaking of proximity, with Maryland’s convenient location on the mid-Atlantic coast, virtually a quarter of the country and over half its population is less than a day’s drive away.  Lastly, as I mentioned before, Maryland has the best crabs in the world.

Sadly, 496 of the biggest companies in the United States don’t find those to be compelling reasons.  Only 8 more companies from the Fortune 1000 choose Maryland as home.  They include household names like McCormick (#591), T. Rowe Price (#658), Legg Mason (#806), and Under Armour (#877).

Perhaps those other 496 or 987 are considering Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Climate Index in which Maryland is the tenth worst state with respect to business taxes.  In the same list, Virginia is #26 and Pennsylvania comes in at #24.  Forbes Best States for Business list isn’t great but it isn’t as condemning as Tax Foundation’s index; Forbes ranks Maryland as #18; whereas, Virginia is ranked #1 and Pennsylvania is #27.

I could cite loads of statistics talking about the quality of life or even the quality of tech in Maryland, but as even the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s summary points out, Maryland is not business friendly.  I don’t have the answers just yet; however, if we want the state economy to improve beyond dependency on government jobs and government contracting (anybody remember the furloughs) we need to take a look at what our neighbors are doing and hold our legislators accountable.