The State of Tech in the I-270 Corridor

The Universities at Shady Grove Conference Center

Rockville, Maryland

June 1, 2010

(As Prepared)


Thank you President Mote, it’s great to join you here.  I had the opportunity to join with President Mote last week to break ground on the new Physical Sciences complex at the University of Maryland – which will be one of the leading facilities of its kind in the world. 

Norm Augustine – thank you for everything you continue to do for our State. 

I also want to thank everyone from Bisnow for organizing today’s event, and today’s panelists, David Mott, Darryll Pines, Tom School, Todd Gibby, Renee Winsky, Martha Connelly, and moderators Jonathan Redgrave and Craig Hunter. 

And thanks to all of you.  In big ways and in small ways you represent the future of job creation and economic growth in our State.  We need you now more than ever. 


It’s great to join you here in Rockville – one of America’s 10 best cities for start-ups, so says Bloomberg News.  I always enjoy coming home here – land of my bread and buttering.  I grew up in a small log cabin not far from here and my mother still lives in this county. 

Our mission to move Maryland forward in these difficult times is: to create jobs, to retain jobs, and to improve the conditions that allow our businesses large and small to create and save jobs, and strengthen and grow our middle class. 

This I-270 technology corridor is central to our ability to unleash the job-creating, growth sustaining potential of Maryland’s Innovation Economy. 

I had the opportunity a few months ago to attend the opening of Lockheed Martin’s NexGen cyber security facility, and this region is increasingly becoming a high-technology hub, with more than 35,000 people working in sectors like cyber security, telecom, and IT. 

And of course, this corridor – “DNA Alley” – continues to be a global leader in the life sciences. 

I wanted to share a few words with you today about our economy and our continuing vision for advancing the life sciences here in Montgomery County, and throughout our State. 

And I want to talk with you about that critically important tool for unlocking the job-creating potential of Innovation: venture capital.

Maryland’s Economy

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re starting to turn the corner in Maryland.  And I want to share some good news: thanks to the hard work and perseverance of businesses and workers in this corridor and throughout our State, we have created more than 36,000 jobs since February. 

More good news: our unemployment rate decreased last month for the first time since December of 2007.  It’s now 24% lower than the national rate. 

If you consider that we are one of only eight states which defends a Triple A bond rating – a seal of fiscal responsibility certified by all three rating agencies, and if you consider that for the second year in a row, Education Week Magazine has said that we have the #1 best public school system in the United States of America, it is fair to say that compared to virtually any State in America, we in Maryland are in better shape to recover stronger and sooner.

But it won’t happen automatically.  We can only continue to move forward, if we continue to make the tough, but right choices. 

We have chosen in tough times to reduce state spending by $5.6 billion – more than any four-year period in our State’s history.  

And at the same time we are choosing to move forward by investing in job-creating tools like the Biotech Tax Credit, which we’re increasing to $8 million so we can help emerging bio companies create and save jobs and grow our economy.

In addition, to move our State forward, we created a Hiring Tax Credit to help businesses both large and small put Marylanders back to work. 

And to prime the pump of small business lending we’ve created a Small Business Loan Guaranty fund – which has already provided $40 million to Maryland small businesses this fiscal year.  Along with fellow governors in 28 states, we’re working with the Obama Administration on federal action – and we’re supportive of the Administration’s $2 billion legislative proposal which has the potential to unlock hundreds of millions of private sector lending here in Maryland. 

Our efforts to create and save jobs can only be successful if we continue to invest in our greatest assets: the talents, skills, creativity, and ingenuity of our people.  And so to move our State forward, we’re making record investments in our public schools – including a more than 70% increase in school construction dollars coming into Montgomery County. 

What’s more, we’re putting a renewed emphasis on reinvigorating STEM education in Maryland – science, technology, engineering and math – these disciplines for which American students are falling behind our global counterparts, but for which we must excel to reach our highest, job creating potential.

And we’ve chosen – alone among the fifty states – to freeze in-state tuition at our colleges and universities for four years in a row. 

Announcing InvestMaryland

One of the many effects of the national recession is the drying up of venture capital – and that’s something we are determined to counter.  It will come as a shock to no one in this room our life sciences sector saw a 26% decrease in venture dollars during the first quarter of this year.

Our State ranks first among states in federal research and development dollars per capita, and second in the total amount we receive annually.  It must be our goal to convert more of these dollars into jobs and economic opportunity.  Venture capital, as we all know, is a key ingredient.

And so today we’re announcing an administrative and legislative initiative we call InvestMaryland, aimed at creating a public-private partnership to fuel venture capital investment in our Innovation Economy, such as Maryland bioscience companies.  

We believe this initiative can spur the creation of thousands of jobs and secure $100 million in venture capital to unlock hundreds of millions and perhaps billions in economic activity.

How will it work?  Insurance companies will be eligible for state issued tax credits and in turn they would invest dollars today in Maryland’s venture infrastructure.  These credits will be deferred until 2015.  A minimum of half these investments will flow into the Maryland Venture Fund.   The balance will flow into Maryland based venture capital firms for the purposes of getting critical capital to Maryland businesses so they can create jobs and advance innovation in fields like the biosciences. 

And we will target a percentage of the funds for investments in women and minority owned businesses – continuing the progress we’re making in a year in which we’re on the verge of reaching – for the first time in Maryland’s history – our goal of awarding 25% of state contracts to minority owned firms.

Bioscience & Maryland’s Innovation Economy

All of this matters, because job-creating progress depends on our ability to advance innovation.  The discoveries, technologies and innovation that are being advanced every day in laboratories, universities, and companies here and throughout our State, hold the promise and potential to remake our economy and in a broader sense, our world, to revolutionize the way we feed, fuel, and heal our planet.

It’s one of the great ironies of our times that the very immensity of the challenges we face are driving innovation in every sphere of education, technology, and life-sciences – endeavors that all of us are able to rightly count among Maryland’s greatest competitive economic strengths, particularly in this corridor.

Before I close, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the life sciences.  As we would all agree, Maryland is positioned well for expanding our global leadership and competitiveness.  In fact, the Milken Institute says that we’re one of the two best positioned states for leveraging our assets for economic growth. 

The raw materials are all here in this corridor and throughout our State: the human resources, the business resources, the academic resources, and the federal resources.  We are home to some of the world’s leading institutions of science, discovery and higher learning, including nearly all the major federal research and regulatory agencies that are so critically important for the development of new drugs and new therapies. 

And what’s more, we have one of America’s most highly skilled workforces, including the highest concentration of Ph.D. scientists and engineers in America – a result of the choices we’re making together to invest in our #1 ranked public schools and in higher ed.

As you may know, this I-270 corridor is one of the largest bioscience clusters in the nation, perhaps in the world.  It is home to about half of our State’s bioscience companies and home to federal facilities like the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration – which is the gateway to the largest R&D market in the world. We are working with both these federal facilities and others in this corridor and throughout our State, to create more opportunities for job creating partnerships with Maryland businesses.

To leverage our assets in I-270 and beyond, we are, through our BioMaryland 2020 initiative, making a 10-year, $1.3 billion state investment in the life sciences, and over the past two years we have invested or approved roughly $100 million – and that’s in addition to the $70 million in investments we’re making in science and technology related infrastructure at our universities and community colleges.

I mentioned the Biotech Tax Credit a few moments ago, and we recently extended our R&D tax credit for another decade.  If you also consider the nearly $70 million we’re investing in Stem Cell research – we have a clear commitment to investing in the job-creating, life-saving promise of the life sciences.


I leave you today with the words of the poet Seamus Heaney:

So hope for a great-sea-change
On the far side of revenge
Believe that a farther shore
Is reachable from here
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

That farther shore is reachable – but only if we continue to make the tough decisions together that move Maryland forward.  The great thing about the people of our State is that in times of adversity we don’t make excuses, we make progress.

And by continuing to make the investments and choices that advance our Innovation Economy we can continue to make the job-creating progress that will allow us to remake our economy, and our world.


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