Governor’s Workforce Investment Board
Biosciences Industry Initiative Conference
May 23, 2008
I love coming up here to this section of town. I remember years ago -- I sound very old when I say that, don't I? I remember years ago when this was all vacant and trash strewn. You know, it wasn't corn, but the weeds were as high as an elephant's eye, and now it's great.
Really, you've got to be careful, Doctor Ramsay, maintaining it too well. People will start to think it's a park. I mean, a park with grass. Instead, it's a fast-moving biotech park and I thank you for your leadership.
Thank you all who are participating today.
If I say it once, I say it a hundred times, they can tell you in the course of a month that our competitive advantage is our workforce. Our challenge is our workforce, too. But our competitive advantage with other States economically really is our workforce. And I'll get into that a little bit more here in my brief -- I promise -- remarks.
Because of your hard work and commitment to growing our bioscience industry, it's truly within our grasp, our ability, to not only be a national leader, but to be a world leader. And we need to be a world leader, because we're competing globally, not just nationally. I take great pride when I hear about Maryland's ranks nationally, but I also know that there's a big world out there that we're competing with as well.
So we need to become a world leader. We can't content ourselves with being one of the top national leaders. We want to become a world leader. And as we seek to grow this sector of our creative economy, I think we have a special opportunity not only to secure our economic future, but also to reassert our State and our nation's moral leadership in this world.
I am fond of quoting Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, who was an advisor to Kofi Anon, who speaks very eloquently about our opportunity to really unleash the weapons of mass salvation. You know, it's not so much about how many smart bombs our country can send against our enemies around our world, it's how many smart, educated, compassionate hands, technologies, life-saving sciences and cures that we can extend to the most fragile of our neighbors around the planet. That's moral leadership.
Our real moral leadership and our creativity is in developing the weapons of mass salvation.
And we recognize the importance of our bioscience industry. It's an industry, as you know, that employs tens of thousands of Marylanders, and growing.
We've come together; we've made significant progress together. Thanks to many of you in this room we have created a Life Sciences Advisory Board to draw upon our State's best and brightest minds and, really, create a strategic vision that all of us can kind of tie into and understand, articulate, promote and be an ever greater part of.
And we've also created a Bioscience Workforce Committee to implement a vision for attracting, recruiting and training the workforce that's able to meet the challenges in the 21st century economy.
Together, we have nearly tripled our investment in stem cell research, dedicating $43 million in the first two years of this administration, compared to just $15 million in the first two years of the last administration.
Together, we have nearly doubled State funding for nano technology to make our State the national and world leader, we hope, in the life sciences.
Together, we fought to continue funding for our State's Biotech Investment Tax Credit, which in only two years has leveraged $24 million for growing Maryland biotech companies.
And together, we have invested not only in the UMB Biopark, but also over at Johns Hopkins, at the Science and Technology Park, UMBC's research park, and many other incubators and other terrific sites around our State.
And in addition, we’ve met with delegations from China, from Ireland, and this week I'll travel to Israel for their Biotech Conference. Israel boasts exporting more healing technology than any other country in the world on a per capita basis. So we'll be traveling there and doing a lot of business at that Biotech Conference. As you know, Teva, an Israeli company, recently purchased CoGenesys, so there is already a presence here.
I wanted to focus my remarks today -- the remainder of them, anyway -- on how we can, through investing in our workforce, best position our State to become that national leader and that world leader in life science.
Good Economic News
I wanted to share with you a little bit of good news in a dour, sour national down-turning economy, though.
Maryland's job growth was four times the nation's rate of job growth over the last year. Exports out of the Port of Baltimore are up 32 percent first quarter of this year, compared to first quarter of last year. Our unemployment rate is about 26 percent, some months almost 30 percent, lower than the nation's unemployment rate.
So we have a tremendous base. We have some tremendous strengths. Take heart, Maryland. As difficult as this national economy is, it's because of you and because of the strengths we have as a people that we're going to come through this downturn more quickly than other States. And it's because we had the guts, we had the courage, we had the commitment to protect our priorities and actually make progress.
Yesterday at the bill signing in which we signed a number of things that never made a headline, but they're all good stuff on health care -- I said, “It is amazing,” to Speaker Busch, “that we have been able to replace so many of the flat tires on this vehicle while it continues to roll.”
Maryland’s Bioscience Climate
And we are continuing to roll. You know, if we look at the resources we have in our One Maryland -- at our science-related employment levels, our institutions of higher learning and discovery, our world class workforce, our Federal facilities, you would have to agree -- and I think it's why you do business here -- that there are very few places like Maryland in our country or maybe around the world, when you look at the concentration, the clusters of institutions, and the workforce and the creativity, the diversity that's attracted here because of our nation's capital.
We have the highest percentage of doctoral scientists and engineers in the country. The highest percentage of professional and technical workers. Three of the six top biomedical scientists in the world conduct their research right here in Baltimore.
We have what Forbes magazine ranks as one of the top three most highly skilled workforces in the country. It's not just a happy coincidence. The reason for that is we're also ranked by Newsweek as having one of the top three public school systems in the country.
So for all our challenges, we do have tremendous strengths upon which to build. And if you haven't heard enough of the big threes, depending on how you count, we have either the third or fourth largest cluster of life science biotech companies in the nation as well.
No other State has this sort of concentration of skills, talents, great institutions and the location and some competitive cost advantages that we have as Marylanders.