Not even a traffic snarl on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway could keep Maryland’s Congressional Delegation from making it to the Maryland Chamber’s annual Maryland Congressional Delegation Dinner. Chamber members were thrilled at the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with members of the delegation during a reception and dinner before the evening’s festivities got underway.
Following the reception, dinner was served to a packed ballroom at Martin’s Crosswinds. Chair of the Board Sheela Murthy got things underway, leading the assembled dignitaries and Chamber members in the Pledge of Allegiance. Maryland Chamber Interim President/CEO Kathy Snyder delivered the invocation.
Senator Benjamin Cardin gave opening remarks, speaking to unity of the Maryland Congressional Delegation and how well they work together as a team for the betterment of the State. Then it was time for arguably the most anticipated part of the evening, the Q&A session with the members of the Delegation.
Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation on the panel for the evening were: Sen. Benjamin Cardin, Rep. C.A. ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. John Delaney and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr.
Prepared questions plus those from the audience ran the table from cybersecurity to infrastructure improvements, from bipartisanship to addressing the underserved and underprivileged areas of the State, one of the most affluent in the country. One topic that got everyone talking was cybersecurity.
Rep. Ruppersberger took the national security angle, describing cybersecurity as being just as serious as anything we are facing now. With more jobs than any place else, in part because of the NSA, Maryland is poised to be the cybersecurity capital of the country, if not the world. Rep. Ruppersberger stressed the importance of STEM education at a young age, helping to develop the workforce needed for the jobs in the cyber arena.
Rep. Delaney discussed the other side of the cybersecurity coin – the private sector. With Maryland positioned to grow, particularly with cybersecurity in the public sector, there is no reason why Maryland cannot dominate the private sector cybersecurity opportunities. Rep. Delaney stressed the importance of Maryland needing a plan to keep and grow the cyber/cybersecurity industry in the State, discussing tax incentives and incentives with the higher education institutions in the state to help develop not only an employer base, but a workforce base, educated and trained to fill those cyber jobs.
Rep. Edwards addressed the need to make sure we are preparing the next generation of leaders, including in the minority populations. She also discussed HBCUs, and the disconnect between the programs and opportunities offered at these “left out” institutions and ensuring a properly trained workforce, ready to fill those cyber positions.
Rep. Van Hollen spoke about cooperation and coordination, particularly between the business community (the Maryland Chamber) and the higher education institutions. Van Hollen stressed that we succeed best when we are able to plan and work together – the private sector, the public sector and academia.
Sen. Cardin summarized the discussion, highlighting that the center of the cybersecurity universe is here in Maryland. He also echoed the need for a full strategy in Maryland, one capable of capitalizing on all the economic opportunities the growing cybersecurity industry will bring to Maryland.