East is east, and west is west, but the exigencies of business may be enough to override the differences, or so the state of Maryland hopes.
A squad of state economic development officials and business leaders, led by Gov. Harry Hughes, swept into the Silicon Valley of California on Thursday seeking to lure the Semi-conductor industry out of its western stronghold. At the Santa Clara Marriott over a luncheon of Maryland crab cakes, they met an audience less aloof to eastern charm than it might have been a few years ago.
To industry officials whos expansion plans are circumscribed by high land costs, disappearing space and a shortage of skilled workers, Hughes and others promised that Maryland can solve the problems faced by the companies that miniaturized and popularized computers by figuring out how to put more and more functions on ever-smaller wafers of silicon.
"We're deadly serious about being the most pro-business state in the nation," Maryland secretary for economic and community development James Roberson told representatives of some 70 companies who had gathered for the state's sales pitch.
The Washington Post was able to attend the luncheon only on the condition that companies who attended would not be named. Rumors that California companies have been looking for other sites have thrown workers here into a panic in the past.
"We believe you will find that, despite the 3,000 miles that separate us, we have a lot in common," Hughes, in a low-pitched voice, told the group in behalf of the state.
Among the attraction, Hughes outlined were a concentration of engineers and scientists, "an ample supply of talent that lessens competition; respected schools of engineering," including the University of Maryland, George Washington University (which is in the District of Columbia) and John Hopkins University; and reasonably priced land.
"It has been said of Maryland that we have the business sophistication of the North, with the pro-business attitudes of the South," Hughes said, before doing a double take at his prepared speech and disavowing the sentiment.
"I'm not sure I like that statement. I don't know who put that in there."
The visit by Hughes and the delegation capped months of planning a campaign that Roberson described as a rifle rather than a shotgun approach to business development in Maryland.
Along with live crabs, the Maryland delegation carried a 40-page spiral-bound book, "Opportunities for Silicon Valley Industry in Maryland," full of maps, graphs and tables -- a statistical hymn to the state's charms.
Maryland county officials will follow up with another visit in about a month to talk in more detail to companies that have expressed interest in the state.
The official opening of the campaign for the hearts, minds and corporate headquarters of the semiconductor industry cost an estimated $70,000 to $80,000, with the state funding half of the cost and the Economic Development Council of the Greater Baltimore Committee providing the other half.
State officials were accompanied by business officials including J. Owen Cole, chairman of First National Bank of Maryland; John J. Dealy, president and chief executive officer of fairchild industries; Robert Tardio, chairman of Suburban Trust; William F. Thompson, president of the technical division of Tracor Inc., and Richard MacGill, senior vice president of Maryland National Bank.
John Toll, chancellor of the University of Maryland, and Alexander Kossiakoff, who heads the applied physics laboratory at John Hopkins University, were also part of the delegation and spoke at the lunch about the support their institutions can provide to industry.
The Maryland foray is not the first or only attempt to try to channel the rapid expansion in the semicondutor industry to other states. North Carolina and Texas, among others, have appeared with similar hopes.
But a representative of one company called the Maryland presentation "as good a show as we've seen. The picture of Baltimore and Washington as painted by the presentation is sort of a replication of the environment we've enjoyed in this area," one company representative said.
However, "like anything else like this it's only an introduction and requires follow up," he said.
"It didn't do too much of the oversell," said Dealy, who has watched numerous similar presentations to Fairchild. "These people out here are quite cynical," he said. "I've seen presentations done poorly and well, and this one was done well."
The unquestioned hit of the presentation was a 12-minute, 12-projector slide show by Telesis, a Baltimore firm, portraying a picturesque, pro-business Maryland.
"Here there is brain power . . . here there is money . . . here there is renaissance . . . here there is available land . . . all right here and waiting for you," went the slide show's siren song.
As Maryland sought to convince California business officials that Maryland has what they want, it was also clear that the Marylanders liked what they saw as they toured lowrise, attractively landscaped industrial parks around Palo Alto, south of San Francisco.
"It's awfully good development," said Roberson, who said that one point of the trip was to show the Maryland people "you can have quality development that is beautiful."