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Packed house cheers announcement of Maryland Jobs Initiative

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The Maryland Chamber of Commerce joined a packed room at the POWER House Community Center in Southeast Baltimore on Thursday to support the 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative, announced by Gov. Larry Hogan.

With lawmakers and leaders on both sides of the aisle working toward the goal of putting even more Marylanders to work, this is an initiative that will benefit employers and potential employees alike.

“The reality is that, even though Maryland has been experiencing tremendous job growth and business growth and economic resurgence, not all Marylanders and not every jurisdiction in our state are seeing the same level of economic improvement and success,” said Hogan.

The governor cited Baltimore City and Allegany, Dorcester, Worcester and Somerset Counties as areas that are lagging behind the rest of the state in job and economic growth. The Maryland Jobs Incentive targets those areas specifically with four strategic approaches aimed at encouraging job creation and business growth.

“This is a win-win initiative for Maryland,” said Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christine Ross. “It’s something everyone can get behind.”

Hogan said the More Jobs for Marylanders Act would incentivize and encourage manufacturers that are new to Maryland to create more jobs in those target areas by waiving all state taxes for 10 years. It would also provide a tax credit for every new job an existing Maryland manufacturing company creates in those areas.

The bill would also accelerate deductions on capital assets to free up company funding for investment and new technology.

“That one deserves applause,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh as she stood to the governor’s immediate left, and the crowd obliged with enthusiasm.

A second proposed bill would provide additional state funding to create six more Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, schools throughout the state and increase the funding for the existing P-TECH schools currently in phase I. Those include Carver and Dunbar High Schools in Baltimore City.

The P-TECH program partners high schools with higher education schools, like Chamber members the University of Maryland-Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University to train students in six years or less to earn a high school diploma, associate’s degree, and even certification in STEM and cyber fields.

The program, which was created via Senate Bill 376 last year, also includes funding for counseling, expanded day programs, and other support for those students, at no extra cost to them.

“Our goal is for more children and their families to take advantage of this innovative and incredible program that we, together, brought to Maryland last year,” Hogan said.

Ross is particularly pleased about the P-TECH program.

“The Chamber is excited to help bring businesses on-board with P-TECH,” Ross said. “There is tremendous opportunity to create a pipeline that trains and employs more young Marylanders with meaningful, good-paying jobs.”

Third, the Maryland Jobs Initiative would provide an additional $4 million, total, for job and skills training, particularly in cyber jobs.

Hogan called Maryland the emerging cyber capital of America, citing the more than 1,200 cyber companies that call Maryland home, including a number of federal cyber businesses and agencies. However, he said, companies are having a hard time finding skilled employees in their field. The Maryland Jobs Incentive program would help fill those jobs with Marylanders. It would work in part with EARN Maryland, a regional, industry-led workforce development grant fund program the governor says has already trained more than 1,700 Marylanders, 82 percent of whom have found jobs.

The final element of the Maryland Jobs Initiative expands and improves on the cyber security investment incentive tax credit program. The goal there is to encourage growth and job creation by giving investors more reason to provide capital to small startup companies.

“We’re very excited about all of these components of the Maryland Jobs Initiative, which we believe will help create thousands of jobs, particularly in those areas like Baltimore City where we really desperately need them the most,” Hogan said. “We really look forward to working together with our local partners and with our colleagues in the legislature to make sure that this Maryland Jobs Initiative becomes a reality.”

Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz, State Senator Nathaniel McFadden, and other officials also enthusiastically cheered the measure.

“This is a real opportunity for Maryland to advance in job creation and business growth,” Ross said. “The Chamber is dedicated to that mission. We look forward to contributing to the initiative and putting even more Marylanders in good jobs.”