“The New Normal” sounds a little like one of those insults that’s supposed to trick you into thinking its a compliment — but bear with us. In a new stats-heavy report on the “New Normal” of the nation’s economy, the U.S. Commerce Department argues that the nation is dealing with a new geography of growth, one that doesn’t match up with old ways of understanding how employment, manufacturing, and technology growth actually work. What we need, they argue, is a new multidisciplinary, enterprising approach — and, not coincidentally, they name Maryland as the nation’s top enterprising state.
So what does that mean, exactly? Well, the “momentum of prosperity” isn’t moving in the same way it always has. Traditional manufacturing centers are losing out, while the Great Plains states (North Dakota & co.) are suddenly booming. The mid-Atlantic region’s biggest assets seem to be our brains — oh, and our STEM job creation. According to the report, we’re one of the nation’s next “boom states.” Maryland’s high concentration of high-tech businesses, as well as a booming research and development sector, means that the future is on our side. Recent job growth has been pretty strong (we rank 12th out of all the states), and projected job growth looks good, too (we’re 15th). We’ve got the nation’s 10th-best educated young workforce and the 5th best family income level.
But where we’re really tops is entrepreneurship and innovation. All that high-tech activity helps, but (again), a lot of it comes back to our powerhouse educational sector. Maryland is the number-one state for academic research and development. State programs, such as O’Malley’s InvestMaryland initiative, help spur economic development by investing in start-ups. (The program auctions premium tax credits to insurance companies, then uses that money to help fund start-ups and early-stage companies.) The state is also working to build on current economic drivers, such as cyber security, life sciences, and military operations.
This is all great news, but it’s not telling us anything we didn’t already suspect. We here at Baltimore Fishbowl have been crowing about local enterprise for quite a while — we’re just glad to hear that the Commerce Department has finally caught up!
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