Made in Maryland

Blog post by Whitney Harmel

Whitney Harmel is the director of strategic partnerships at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. Through her career history and past role as chair of the Emerging Leaders United Council, she has over a decade of sales, leadership, and relationship-building experience.


As a self-proclaimed engineering nerd, one of the best parts of my job is touring manufacturing plants across Maryland. I had the pleasure of visiting Knorr Bremse’s facility in Westminster where they manufacture brakes, doors and AC units for railway cars. Admittedly, I geeked out and was taken right back to learning about heat transfer in my college thermodynamics class. I bet you’re thinking that a brake manufacturing plant is full of grease and motor oil—but not true! The facility was spotless, so clean you could basically eat off of the floor.

On that same day, I visited Lehigh Cement in Westminster, where I stood atop a 400-foot tower in the middle of farm country. I was blown away by the sheer size and production rate of the facility, not to mention the logistics involved with moving that much product.

Manufacturing factories are often indirectly a part of my day as well. I know when I’ve reached Baltimore’s Fell’s Point when I can smell the incredible, undeniable fresh scent of bread being baked at H&S Bakery. When I do, I am reminded that this company not only makes the city smell like the comforts of home, the family-owned business has been committed to enhancing and sustaining Baltimore’s community since 1943.

Through my experiences, it has become clear that these companies produce so much more than a product. Some of our state’s top manufacturers, like Perdue, are feeding our country; while companies like Volvo, Jamison Door, Marlin Steel, Stanley Black & Decker, and Dunlop are strengthening the state’s economy through international export and employment.

Consider all of the companies along the I-270 corridor that focus on biopharma. Our medical manufacturers are working every day to improve the lives of Americans. Companies like AstraZeneca and Emergent BioSolutions, are at the forefront of manufacturing drugs to counter various health plights that touch nearly every American family—like cancer and the opioid crisis.

And what about our basic freedoms? Companies like Lockheed Martin and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratories are innovating in the defense space in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few decades ago.

Maryland manufacturers don’t just have an influence in our state, but their products and discoveries are having a national and global effect. These companies are shaping our sense of community, our culture, our quality of life, our state’s growth, and ultimately our future. But how can we ensure these amazing companies stay in our backyard?

As Maryland’s economy continues to grow, we need to remain focused on the issues that matter. I’m proud that the Maryland Chamber keeps workforce development programs that foster Maryland’s talent pipeline, and create a lasting impact on our state’s leading industries, front of mind. We are also working hard to advocate for policies that promote growth for our manufacturing sector, as we know it is a vital part of driving Maryland’s future.

I’m excited to be a part of an organization that is working to strengthen our manufacturers.

Here are some of the top manufacturers that are making Maryland a stronger state:

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