Mary D. Kane: With a new dawn comes opportunity — if we work together | Commentary

Mary D. Kane is a proven leader in state, federal and global organizations and joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as President & CEO in October 2021. In her role, she focuses on continuing to move the Chamber forward as the leading voice for businesses in Maryland. Kane has an extensive background in leading state, federal and global organizations, most recently at the U.S. State Department as Director of the National Museum of American Diplomacy.  

This op-ed was originally published by The Daily Record on January 11, 2023.

 


As we ready ourselves for the 2023 legislative session in Maryland, a new dawn is truly on the horizon. With the election of Wes Moore as our incoming governor and the turnover of so many executive office and committee leadership positions, we can expect a legislative session chock full of change. But with change comes opportunity.

Gov.-elect Moore ran a campaign based on the premise to “leave no one behind.” At the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, we couldn’t agree more that no matter where you start in life, you deserve an equal opportunity to succeed. Every Marylander deserves access to a job that allows them to support their family and build wealth.

On the stump, Governor-elect Moore released a plan called “Work, Wages and Wealth: Building a Growing and Thriving Economy that Lifts up Every Maryland Family.” Within this plan, he details his vision as the next governor to support a robust economic infrastructure that affords every Marylander the opportunity to secure a great job.

I am delighted to see a strong focus on making Maryland more competitive, both nationally and internationally, to ensure we attract talent and foster an environment that supports business. This is critically important. Again and again, Maryland has struggled to compete with states who offer a more favorable atmosphere for growth. If we truly want to compete and lead in job growth, we must make the hard decisions to modernize our policies as our neighboring states have done.

Governor-elect Moore also places a clear focus on building Maryland’s future workforce. Through our work at the Maryland Chamber Foundation, we have seen first-hand the impact a strong workforce development program can have on students considering their future careers. I am heartened to see Moore’s pledge to “transform Maryland’s workforce development system,” through skill-building programs, apprenticeships and investment in STEM education. Our Maryland businesses rely on a strong workforce, and often struggle to fill skilled trade positions. More robust state-wide workforce development initiatives will help ease these burdens.

An issue of great importance, one that continues to plague the business community, is the worker shortage. From the skilled trades to teachers to restaurant workers, it is an issue that affects most all industries. Our team at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will continue to make sure our policymakers understand just how big an issue this is. How the new administration handles sweeping policy changes, like an increase in minimum wage, will have ramifications for these already struggling businesses. As inflation balloons and interest rates rise, we have to evaluate every decision with greater scrutiny. Is now the best time to put yet another burden on the backs of small and micro businesses?

Another top issue impacting business is the cost of energy. Governor-elect Moore campaigned on a promise to ensure Maryland generates 100% clean energy by 2035. His commitment to a clean Chesapeake Bay, addressing sea-level rise and bringing new technologies to market is one Maryland businesses share. However, many of the policy proposals to address these issues significantly drive up the cost of energy. Most Maryland businesses exist as price-takers, not price-makers in the energy market. As a result, the increasing costs of energy will continue to squeeze Maryland’s smallest and most vulnerable businesses.

As the leading voice advocating on behalf of the Maryland business community, at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce it is our job to ask the tough questions and to ensure that our state’s businesses have a seat at the table. We partner with other organizations, businesses and policymakers to accomplish our shared vision: promoting strong public policy that ensures future economic growth for Maryland’s economy while finding amicable solutions across party lines. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Moore, his administration and the Maryland legislature to make this vision a reality.

Under the eight years of leadership from Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland has made huge strides in fostering a pro-business environment. Hogan and his administration have cultivated incredible growth of the economy and the business community, which in turn created jobs and more opportunities for all Marylanders. We will do all we can to make sure this momentum continues in the next administration. Maryland can’t afford to backslide, especially as our businesses struggle to navigate an inflationary economy and a crippling workforce shortage.

The strength of Maryland’s economy is based on its diversity and includes many critical sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality and biotech, among others. Each of these industries and the businesses within them face unique challenges that will require unique solutions and flexibility based on their needs. These needs must be at the forefront for each of Maryland’s elected leaders and we encourage them to utilize the expertise within our robust business community to better inform the debates on regulations and laws.

Myself and my staff at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce remain committed to doing our part to facilitate these conversations and to being part of the solution. We will not agree on every issue, but we can work together to create resolutions and ensure a stronger future for every Maryland family.


For more information on specific legislation or committee membership, please contact our Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Andrew Griffin at agriffin@mdchamber.org or (410) 269-0642 ext. 1114.

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