Recent studies compiled by WalletHub, a personal finance website, show Maryland ranking high in tech-related metrics. The state ranked fourth for innovation among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and third for work-from-home opportunities.
Economic development experts and business advocates are appreciative of the recognition being paid to Maryland’s efforts to set itself apart, but caution that the state still has some considerable room for policy improvements.
As to the findings of the innovation study, WalletHub compared the states and the district across 22 key metrics ranging from the share of STEM professionals to research and development spending per capita.
Accordingly, Maryland ranked 3rd for share of STEM professionals, ahead of Virginia; 1st for projected STEM job demand by 2030; 3rd for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older; 4th for share of technology companies; 5th for R&D spending per capita, and 21st for venture capital funding per capita.
In his analysis, Wallet Hub financial writer Adam McCann noted that the highest ranking states have a few other things in common, including prioritized investments in education, research, and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries.
The remote work study estimated that 12.7 % of the nation’s full-time employees now work entirely from home, with 28.2% having a hybrid schedule.
Metrics for this study included internet cost and cybersecurity, as well as how large and crowded homes are in the state.
In this study, Maryland ranked 12th in the share of population working from home; 20th in the share of potential telecommuters; 10th in household internet access; 27th in average home square footage; 30th in cybersecurity; and 9th in Internet cost.
Overall, Maryland ranked 4th for working environment and 17th for living environment.
“These are encouraging studies, but they don’t tell the whole story and leave out some important details,” said Troy LeMaile-Stovall, CEO of TEDCO.
Mary Kane, president of the Maryland Chamber, said she is excited to see Maryland ranking so well and very competitive in these areas.
“We have quite a bit of work ahead of us, though, to make Maryland a desired place to do business so that we remain competitive not only in the areas of innovation and remote work, but more importantly, as a place where people want to start and grow their businesses.
Currently, she said, the state ranks poorly in terms of being a supportive state for business.
“Our state has burdensome, complex and costly policies that make it a challenging environment for the business community to operate in,” Kane said.
According to the 2021 Economic, Fiscal & Regulatory Freedom Data Source published by the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, Maryland ranks 24th for fiscal policy, 47th for regulatory policy, and 44th for economic freedom.
CNBC’s 2022 Top States for Business rankings place Maryland 29th for business friendliness, 32nd for economy, and 44th in terms of both having a favorable cost of doing business and having a favorable cost of living.
“This data tells us that while we’re seeing great progress and competitiveness in some areas, like innovation, we have work to do with policymakers in the years ahead,” Kane said.
Focus on competitiveness
The Maryland Chamber just released its own study, the 2023 Competitiveness Redbook for Maryland, which presents a data-driven snapshot of Maryland’s economic health.
“The study compares the state to the rest of the nation in a variety of key indicators, including population change, employment growth, opening and closing rates of establishments, wages, taxation, and economic, fiscal and regulatory freedom,” Kane said.
The data comes from a variety of sources that include the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor and is available at https://mdchamber.org/resources/maryland-competitiveness-data/.
TEDCO’s 2023 Maryland Innovation Competitiveness Study, compiled by RTI International and Keen Point Consulting, found that Maryland’s overall economic growth rate is slowing.
“The high-tech sector is Maryland’s engine of growth, but the state needs high-tech employment growth of 3% to 4% per year compared to its past 10-years growth rate of 1.6% per year,” the study noted.
“We have a lot of amazing resources in Maryland with our laboratories and universities, but that hasn’t really translated to job growth in the way we would like to see it,” LeMaile-Stovall said. “And a lot of the jobs we’re talking about don’t necessarily require a four-year degree.”
“It is extremely important to continue to invest in Maryland’s high-tech economy, which allows for items like remote work and innovation,” Kane said. “What the data is showing is that while there are areas of strength, our state and our businesses are struggling with issues that are making it difficult to attract and retain businesses, support growth, and ensure Marylanders have plentiful opportunities to secure great jobs.”