Op Ed: Economic Development: Worth the Investment
Economic Development: Worth the Investment
By: Danny Thompson, MEDA President
This year, the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) will host the 12th annual Economic Development Week in Maryland from October 24-28, 2022. Why dedicate a week to celebrating economic development, a concept that may be unfamiliar to some? As a member-based association devoted to the effort for 60 years, MEDA knows that economic development shapes communities and opportunities, which is why it’s worthy of our understanding and engagement.
Economic development is a professional practice that profoundly impacts a community’s well-being and quality of life. Every day, economic development processes and principles are employed by government officials, business and community leaders to galvanize investment, job growth and shared prosperity. Economic development brings jobs and capital to countries, states, regions and counties, strengthening infrastructure, workforce, trade, tourism and innovation all the while.
Each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions have dedicated economic development and workforce organizations. Last year, economic development activities throughout Maryland generated an economic impact of $59.9 million. Every dollar invested in capital projects resulted in total economic activity of $1.74. Incentives and funding programs offered by states, regions and municipalities have a multiplier effect on the economy, encouraging more companies to locate, expand and remain in Maryland.
Examples illustrate impact, so here’s a success story to share.The Advantage Maryland Grant is a state-sponsored funding program that provides grants, loans and investments in priority funding areas. In 2021, Advantage Maryland supported 24 projects, disbursing $20.9 million in loans and grants to worthy economic development initiatives. This source of support created 6,354 new jobs and retained 4,495 existing jobs. Opportunities improve and community offerings follow suit.
Despite the economic hardships endured in 2020, Maryland is on the recovery track. In fiscal year 2021, Maryland invested nearly $63 million to support 214 economic development projects and activities throughout the state. Today, the unemployment rate is moving in the desired direction, wages are increasing and commercial property values are on the rise.
So is Maryland’s investment in economic development worth it? The answer is a resounding yes – yes for businesses, communities and citizens. Maryland’s thoughtful economic development strategy is a model that should be widely adopted – and applauded. Working together as citizens, advocates and professionals, we can do, and change, so much. Celebrate Economic Development Week in Maryland along with MEDA this October and energize community endeavors throughout the year.
To learn more about participation in Economic Development Week in Maryland, visit the MEDA website.
About MEDA: MEDA is a nonprofit organization of economic development professionals. Established in 1961, MEDA members promote the economic well-being of Maryland by working to improve the state’s business climate and the professionalism of those in the field of economic development.