Howard County Tourism Annual Meeting
Ellicott City, MD
September 23, 2010
As Prepared for Delivery
It is great to be here in Howard County and Ellicott City – one of Money Magazine’s two best places to live in the United States of America! Home of America’s very first railroad station – and important stops along the Historic National Road, the “Road that Built the Nation” which marks its 200th anniversary next year.
County Executive Ulman thank you for fighting the good fight to move Maryland forward. It’s great to join my colleges Senator Robey, Delegate Guzzone, and Delegate Pendergrass – along with our colleagues in county government who are with us. President Barbera, Vice President Clark – thank you for your work to create jobs and spur economic growth in Howard County.
Your work is work that is moving Maryland forward – and I want to thank you for the hard work you do every day to show off and promote all that is great about our State. You are a big part of the reason that we’re recovering faster and rebounding stronger than other States.
Why do I say that? I’ll give you 17,000 reasons! Together, we’ve created 17,000 net leisure and hospitality jobs in Maryland between August 2009 and August 2010! Looking just at this year, through August we grew 3.3 percent in Maryland while the national leisure and tourism sector declined (-6.1%).
Last year Pennsylvania didn’t increase the number of visitors they attracted to their state. Not to rub it in, but neither did Virginia. West Virginia? They didn’t increase the number of visitors either. Delaware? Nope.
But in Maryland with your leadership and hard work we were able to attract 1 million more visitors to our State and I think that’s worth a round of applause for everyone in this room who worked so hard to make this happen! 29 million visitors, an increase over 28 million in the year before!
And so far this year demand for Maryland lodging is up by 9 percent – 2 percentage points higher than the national growth in demand for lodging. In Howard County, demand is up 11.2 percent – 4 points higher than national growth!
Here in Howard County, tourism businesses employ 10,000 Marylanders and generate $780 million in economic activity. This county is a great example of why Maryland is such a great place to visit. It’s a county where history comes alive. A great place for the arts. A great place for entertainment. A great place for recreation.
We are moving forward and you’re a big part of it. I wanted to share a few brief words about our shared challenges and opportunities – which are often are one in the same – and about the reality that all of us face together. And also about the most important imperative that we have right now and it can all be summed up in one word with four letters -- and that is “jobs.”
Creating Jobs, Strengthening Maryland Tourism
Because of the beliefs we share, we know that there is there is no more powerful place in our State than a family's home and nothing more important for protecting that home than a job.
Your fight in business, and our fight in state government is the fight to create jobs, to save jobs, and to improve the conditions that allow businesses to create and save jobs.
While there will continue to be peaks and valleys as we fight our way out of the national economic crisis, if you compare Maryland to virtually any other state, we’re recovering faster, and we’re rebounding stronger. How much stronger and faster? Since January we’ve been growing at twice the national growth rate – gaining more jobs than at this point in any year since 2000, 33,200 on the year.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says we’re one of the two best states for innovation and entrepreneurship. Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard and Poor’s affirm our Triple A bond rating – a seal of fiscal responsibility earned by only 8 states, and we’re one of them. And for the second year in a row – because we’ve chosen together to make record investments in our kids’ schools – Education Week magazine says our schools in Maryland are the #1 best in the country.
To move forward, we must continue creating and saving jobs. More than 95 percent of Maryland’s tourism-related businesses are small businesses – and to help small business in our State by priming the pump of lending, we created a Small Business Loan Guaranty fund, which thus far has guaranteed $6.4 million in loans that otherwise would not have happened,…
And to help businesses put Marylanders back to work, we created a new Hiring Tax Credit: $5,000 for any businesses, large, medium, or small that hires a Marylander off unemployment roles.
To support your efforts in growing our leisure and tourism sector, we’ve launched an array of marketing campaigns and initiatives.
One such initiative is a new interactive travel map – attempting to capitalize on the emerging reality that more and more families are using the internet to plan their trips. We call it the Visit Maryland Interactive Map. It details many of the state’s tourism marketing initiatives such as the byways, and upcoming historical commemorations. It’s available to all online at www.visitmaryland.org.
Another new initiative, we call Maryland Green Travel. It’s a self-certification program that gives businesses the chance to showcase their efforts to go green – and to be promoted as part of our State’s marketing efforts to environmentally-conscious travelers. The Hotel here at Turf Valley was one of the first to sign on.
We have a number of big historic anniversaries on the horizon, all of which will present new opportunities for you our tourism sector. In 2011 we begin the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. In 2012, Maryland will be the centerpiece of the nation’s multiyear celebration of all things Star-Spangled – including the anniversary of the War of 1812. In 2013, we’ll mark the 100th anniversary of the passing of one of our State’s great heroes, Harriet Tubman. In 2014 we will mark the anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry.
Thank you again for the opportunity to join you here, and for your hard work to move Maryland forward.
I leave you with the question I opened with: do we move forward or do we slip back?
Continuing to move forward and recover stronger is a battle. As a great American once said, “the future is not a gift: it is an achievement.” We can’t win by retreating back. We have to march forward, together.
We still have challenges ahead of us, but we are moving forward.
I believe our best days are still ahead of us – if we choose together to move forward. We can have a better future or we can have our fears, but we can’t have both.
Thank you very much.