A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Maryland manufacturers look to the future while managing today’s challenges
With the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain issues, the Great Resignation and rising inflation, Maryland’s manufacturing industry has been managing a confluence of complex challenges that will forever transform the ways business is done.
According to Mike Galiazzo, president of the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland, technology and the transformation to what is known as industry 4.0 offers solutions to many of these issues by reducing the amount of time it takes to get a product to market and offering new and more efficient ways to get work done.
But the cost of implementing these new technologies can be staggering, especially for smaller manufacturers whose focus on the day-to-day means concerns about workforce, supply chain and pricing.
April Richardson, owner of Baked in Baltimore, a popular seller on QVC, said that in addition to the rising cost of ingredients due to inflation, hiring is also a problem.
“Workforce issues are a challenge. People see ‘manufacturing’ and they think of manufacturing as it was in the 1960s,” Richardson said. “Even getting people to click the job description is a challenge.”
2. At Tradepoint Atlantic, Moore breaks ground on offshore wind construction facility, signs climate bills
Capping a week of climate-themed events, Governor Wes Moore traveled to Maryland’s biggest industrial development Friday to break ground on a new construction facility for the offshore wind energy industry and to sign three pieces of legislation designed to boost the state’s efforts to combat climate change.
After touring the Tradepoint Atlantic development in Baltimore County, where the Patapsco River meets the Chesapeake Bay, Moore joined dozens of dignitaries to hail the potential economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind. Tradepoint Atlantic is the site of the long-shuttered Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrow’s Point, and several political, business and labor leaders said wind energy development will be an integral part of the renaissance of the massive property – and the state’s economic future.
“Maryland steel led the American economy in the 20th century and I want Maryland wind to lead the American economy in the 21st century,” Moore told the crowd.
3. Fighting back on rising crime with legislation
Across the country, both small and large businesses have felt the impact of organized crime. Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have seen a rise in crimes committed in their communities and are struggling to find ways to counter these acts.
According to U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis, crime is on the rise both in her district and around the country – with New York City seeing an increase of 63,000 shoplifting complaints. Specifically in her city, Malliotakis attributes this rise in crime to two things: New York State’s 2020 bail reform legislation and a lack of action from prosecutors in the city.
To counter this uptick in crime, Malliotakis introduced legislation called the Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act, legislation that would require prosecutors in cities above a certain population to report to the Department of Justice and make available to the public data on crimes and criminals receiving reduced sentences – or zero prosecution at all.
4. 2023 statewide broadband conference to be held on Eastern Shore
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Statewide Broadband is hosting a regional conference to learn more about broadband and digital equity funding and provide input into the state’s plans for infrastructure deployment and digital equity support. This session of the conference will be held at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne on May 24.
Funded by the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the federal programs Digital Equity and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) were introduced to ensure that all communities can access and use affordable, reliable high-speed internet to meet their needs and improve their lives, as well as to get all Americans online by funding partnerships between states, communities and stakeholders to build infrastructure where we need it to and increase adoption of high-speed internet.
5. Companies losing momentum on DEI; why it could prove costly
Nearly three years after many companies across the nation made pledges to support diversity, equity and inclusion, new data shows many of those efforts are losing steam – and the trend is having some significant consequences.
The latest Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report from leadership consulting firm DDI found an 18% decrease in leaders’ endorsements of their companies’ overall DEI efforts in the last two years. That includes declines in optimism about recruitment, advancement and diversity of leadership.
Diversity experts had warned many companies would struggle to maintain momentum on DEI as the economy evolved, and the uncertainty of early 2023 hasn’t helped. But while there is a wide spectrum of reasons for the decline in support for corporate DEI initiatives, DDI’s report found the drop can have tangible consequences when it comes to turnover, the ability to meet customer needs and overall business performance.
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