Maryland ranks 41st for business, according to CEO survey

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Local,Maryland,Andy Brownfield

A recent survey of CEOs placed Maryland among the 10 worst states for business, citing tax increases as well as proposals to raise the minimum wage and make paid sick leave mandatory discussed in the recent General Assembly.

The survey by the Chief Executive Group in Connecticut ranked Maryland 41 among the 50 states, falling from its 2012 rank of 40th.

The CEOs surveyed ranked Virginia seventh.

Maryland received one-and-a-half stars out of five for its taxes and regulations, while gathering three stars each for workforce quality and living environment.

"California and Maryland have a ton to do to improve relations with business. They are driving businesses out of their states," one CEO wrote in the survey.

Business groups say Maryland isn't necessarily unfriendly to business, but rather has a perception problem. Maryland Chamber of Commerce spokesman William Burns said the reintroduction of seemingly unfriendly legislation can give the state a bad rap.

"Year after year you're seeing these proposals in the state legislature, including the minimum wage increase and sick leave mandate. These are the things that can [create] a negative business perception," Burns said. He said the rankings do have an impact.

"This is something that's really critical to look at now, particularly with 2014 coming and a new governor [being elected] and the General Assembly coming up for re-election -- focus on competitiveness and state economic competitiveness."

Maryland's Republican lawmakers have tried and failed to reduce Maryland's corporate income tax -- among the highest in the country -- three times in recent years.

Forbes' most recent state rankings, released in December, placed Maryland 16th. Forbes gave the Free State low marks for the cost of doing business and regulatory environment, but scored it among the top 10 for labor supply and quality of life.

The Fortune 500 list released May 6 included four Maryland companies -- Lockheed Martin, Coventry Health Care (which was bought by Aetna last week), Marriott International and Host Hotels & Resorts. That's down from six companies on the 2012 list. Virginia had a healthier showing, with 23 companies on the 2013 list.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley said the administration isn't concerned with the CEOs' survey.

"The figure that really matters to us is jobs," Raquel Guillory wrote in an email. "Maryland has recovered 97 percent of the jobs that were lost during the recession, compared to only 67 percent for the nation as a whole. In the first quarter of this year, Maryland created 22,000 jobs at the fastest rate in the region and the fourth-fastest rate in the nation."

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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Andy Brownfield

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner