Maryland – The Need for a Better Business Climate

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Maryland had no economic growth in 2013, according to new estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

To turn the tide of reports like this, The Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is part of a state-wide coalition working towards improving the Business Climate in the State.  The Maryland Competitiveness Coalition was established in 2012 to analyze the situation and provide strategic tactics that will benefit not just Hispanic Businesses but all businesses in the region.  The Coalition recently met with Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, who chairs the new Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.  

The commission was established earlier this year by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. It held its first meeting on April 30. Augustine said the commission plans to meet in various parts of the State, seeking ideas to improve Maryland’s economic development efforts with an eye on making Maryland more competitive.   

The commission will submit its final report and recommendations on December 15. The presiding officers expect the report to lead to legislative proposals during the 2015 session. “They are both very committed to this, in my opinion,” Augustine said. “They’ve made it very clear that what they want is actionable proposals.”  

Competitiveness Coalition leaders briefed Augustine on the Vision and Action Plan for Maryland’s Future and offered to support the commission as it conducts its work. In addition to holding meetings throughout the summer and fall, Augustine said the commission will establish a website where business leaders can submit their ideas and feedback.  

Augustine was receptive to the coalition’s ideas and encouraged members to stay engaged with the commission throughout the process. He was particularly interested in specific examples of trouble employers are having with Maryland’s permitting process and economic incentives. The Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will keep members and partners informed as the commission established its website and sets the agendas for future meetings.   

“I think that by working together, as you are doing, you can have a lot more impact than as individual voices,” Augustine said.  

 As the former chair of the MD Hispanic Chamber and an entrepreneur, I’ve seen first-hand the missed opportunities of insufficient access and lack of resources.  Several studies reveal a tremendous opportunity in Maryland;  Dr. Anirban Basu, economist estimates that the region would see $5 Billion more in annual sales activity by adequately supporting and leveraging W/MBE businesses.  The analysis further suggests that an adequately-sized W/MBE business community would allow mainstream business to increase their sales by roughly $1.8 Billion per year.1 

Along with developing & enhancing the infrastructure of existing W/MBE business community, we also have the opportunity of benefitting from the shifting demographic changes of the region- the increasing number of Hispanic Businesses, who are establishing businesses at 3x the national average; and the increasing number of Veteran owned/operated business, which produced 20% higher revenues than non-Veteran led firms. 

Maryland is at the cusp of remarkable economic prosperity and we seek to collaborate further with the MD Competitiveness Coalition and the Private Sector Commission to increase Maryland’s Competitiveness by further improving Economic Diversity in the region.   

Veronica Cool is the founder of Cool & Associates LLC, a business management firm specializing in financial wellness & effective diverse segment marketing. A Social Entrepreneur hailing from the Dominican Republic with over 20 years of commercial banking experience, she can be reached at or via Twitter @verocool.

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