It’s not news that Maryland has a solid infrastructure in support of industry. In fact, many nationally recognized manufacturing companies, such as Philips Seafood, Under Armour and Domino Sugar, are based right here. So, why is Maryland ranked only 31st out of 50 states in CNBC’s 2012 America’s Top States for Business? Why is our neighbor to the north, Pennsylvania, on the list of the top states for manufacturing jobs and Maryland isn’t? Most importantly, why is manufacturing in Maryland nowhere near as healthy as it could be, and what needs to change to earn a higher spot in the national rankings?
To explore these questions, we first looked at the criteria used to determine if a state is generally business-friendly.
In CNBC’s ranking, for example, all 50 states were scored on 51 measures of competitiveness developed with input from business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, as well as with input from the states themselves. States then received points based on their rankings in each metric.
CNBC separates its 51 metrics into 10 broad categories and weights each category based on how frequently it’s cited in economic development marketing materials.
Here are the 10 categories, along with the total points a state is able to earn in each:
- Cost of Doing Business (350 points)
- Workforce (350 points)
- Quality of Life (350 points)
- Economy (325 points)
- Infrastructure & Transportation (325 points)
- Technology & Innovation (225 points)
- Education (225 points)
- Business Friendliness (200 points)
- Access to Capital (100 points)
- Cost of Living (50 points)
So, where did Maryland rank in each of these business-related areas? Given how rankings are calculated, the results certainly paint an interesting picture of our state’s priorities:
We then took a look at what Maryland itself is saying about doing business in the state via the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s (DBED) website. While the great news is that DBED’s message is focused on technology, innovation, education and the defense sector (all strengths of our state), there’s not a great deal of content about manufacturing.
The fact that Maryland is not promoting the celebrated manufacturers that are already based here as aggressively as we’d like, along with additional data indicating that manufacturing accounts for only four percent of jobs in the sate, indicates there’s much untapped opportunity for leveraging the attractiveness of Maryland in swaying new manufacturers to make their home here.
And, of course, we all know this issue doesn’t concern Maryland alone.
With the national focus on bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. from overseas, every state well suited for manufacturing growth has a role to play in solving the challenge. But it will take looking more closely at what is needed to improve the health of manufacturing in the state, as well as in the nation.
Here are several ways we believe the country, Maryland included, can make the shift from industry-ambivalent to industry-friendly:
- Be more responsive to the specific needs of manufacturing companies, enabling evolution of the total manufacturing sector at a faster rate.
- Find innovative ways to provide support to growth-focused manufacturing companies and industries.
- Increase and improve the manufacturing workforce by encouraging the development of new, higher-quality training programs at the local level.
- Resolve issues related to unions (especially, since productivity and profitability increase as a direct result of good relationships between management and workers).
- Overcome the public’s misconception that manufacturing is bad for the environment via public relations tactics designed to showcase local modern manufacturing methods and standards.
- Involve the manufacturing industry more significantly at state and local levels.
While these changes may not come for some time, clearly, the conversation needs to start today and, as always, we’d enjoy hearing your thoughts:
What do you think needs to happen at the state level
to improve the future of manufacturing in Maryland?
What can the manufacturing community do to support
Maryland in becoming increasingly industry-friendly?
We invite you to share your responses in the comments section below.