Baltimore's City Council President likes to tell a story about the different approaches to economic development between Maryland and Virginia to underscore what may be a critical problem to Maryland's future job market and revenue sources.
A small, light manufacturing company based in Baltimore, says Walter S. Orlinsky, wanted to expand its operations. The firm sent its required specifications to the economic development officials in Maryland and also Virginia.
Virginia's development people sent back two books containing possible site locations, airline tickets, and a letter from the governor and added that they would be in touch within two weeks for further assistance.
Maryland's officials mailed the company four Xeroxed pages, listing the state's different development agencies for the company to contact.
"There is no central leadership in the state," Orlinsky says, "and Maryland has no central registry of industrially zoned land. A company which wants that information has to go to each of the 24 subdivisions in the state."
Prompted by another Maryland businessman who said Virginia development officials had six light airplanes at their disposal to ferry businessmen around the state, Johns Hopkins University undertook a special study to determine how Maryland fared in the coimmercial competition between the states.
The study concluded last week with some surprises.
For instance, after recalculating some of the original statistics which were not included in the Maryland summary, one researcher found that the South Atlantic region, which is supposedly in a boom period, actually experienced a 2 percent decline in manufacturing jobs.
Virginia, however, which traditionally has not been a manufacturing state, fared better than its region as a whole, increasing the number of its manufacturing jobs by 1.4 percent, or 4,900 positions.
Maryland suffered a greater loss in manufacturing jobs than its Northeast region, according to the study. The Northeast region lost 12 percent of its manufacturing jobs, but Maryland's decline was 15.2 percent, or 41,200 jobs.
"Nobody can say that 15 jobs were gained or lost because of the state's approach to economic development," said Marsha Clark, who compared economic development agencies in seven states for the five-part task force report. "But the states that seem to be able to do better than their regional trend had active governors who took a prominent role in economic development."
The study concluded that Maryland faces a crisis in the near future because of a lack of strong economic leadership, a tax structure too dependent on personal taxes which are higher than four-fifths of the rest of the country, a shifting employment market from manufacturing to service-type jobs, an unwieldy growth of government expenditures which would deplete state revenues by 1981, and too little effort to preserve exising jobs or create new ones in the private sector.
While not drawing any conclusions about Virginia's economic future, the report notes that the state has a lower than national average burden of personal taxes, a slower but still high growth of government expenditures, an expanding job market, and an economic development department with a well-paid and experienced staff working to attract jobs to the state.
The Hopkins task force study, which cost $70,000 and took a year and a half to complete, was composed of 50 representative from Maryland's private business sector.
While complementing Virginia's approach and the strong, almost day-to-day personal contact of Gov. Mills E. Godwin with its development people, the study called Maryland's approach "a presently (sic) jumbled array of policies and programs."
No Maryland governor has involved himself or set strong state guidelines for development since the state Department of Economic and Community Development was created 15 years ago. As a result, Maryland is losing its formerly competitive advantage to Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states which aid businesses in locating.
Environmental regulations are about the same in all the states studied, but those states with strong gubernatorial leadership work with businesses to meet various controls, according to the study.
"Having a reputation that 'we will help you overcome controls' rather than 'you must prove this to us' aids the state's development," said one researcher.
Volkswagen, which recently chose to locate a plant in New Staunton, Pa., rather then Maryland, is an example. Pennsylvania authorities under orders from the governor, cut down on pollution emissions from asphalt paving and shifted emissions from other industries to allow for the effects of pollution from the new plant.
Both Virginia and Maryland actually experienced a net gain in jobs between 1970 and 1975 mostly from increases in service and government jobs, according to the study. Virginia gained 235,400 new jobs and Maryland 123,600.
The type of job is an important consideration from state revenue, the study's fiscal findings show. Manufacturing jobs contribute $790 to tax revenues while service-type jobs, which are on the upswing, contribute only $412 to tax revenues.
The study also notes that Maryland has suffered competitively in the economic market from a national reputation for political corruption. But it fails to detail any specific effects of that reputation.