Greater Baltimore Committee
May 26, 2011
Don Fry thank you so very, very much and to all of you with the Greater Baltimore Committee, thank you for your hard work over these last three very, very difficult years.
I can sense this long, lingering recession coming to a close. I sense it not only from the better job creation numbers, not only the uptake in the revenues but I sense it through the energy in this room.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when I walked in tonight, you could feel this as well, there’s an energy, people are thinking about the future again.
And I want to thank the Greater Baltimore Committee for all of your partnership, for the years that I was mayor and Mayor Rawlings-Blake I know that you know that these men and women are there for you as well and that we’re all in this together and you understand that we’re a great city because we help one another.
Charlie because of your leadership and Don Fry; Charlie thank you for letting Don Fry spend so much time with us, my goodness. Charlie thank you for having Don Fry do the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation, for helping us with the public/private partnership on the port, for doing the thankless task on moving the slot locations forward. Don you’ve been absolutely tremendous and I cannot thank you enough.
As I was looking through the program I came across the competitive edge boiled down in a nutshell and I think its worth repeating. It’s the government leadership that unites the business as a partner. A workforce that’s highly educated and meets Maryland’s business needs, regulatory policies that are streamlined, stable and predictable, a tax structure that is fair and competitive, competitive costs of doing business, superior transportation infrastructure with reliable funding mechanisms, strategic and effective state investments and business growth, a business marketing strategy that’s aggressive, coordinated, long-term and well funded.
Another way to sum all of that up is that it’s all about jobs and its all about creating jobs. It’s all about expanding opportunity through economic growth and some of the most important growth that happens is right here in the center of our state, in the greatest city in America, in the City of Baltimore.
The Port and the public/private partnership we did at that location is giving the Port a banner year this year.
The numbers came out on employment for the month of April and get this, there were only five other states that created more jobs than Maryland did in the month of April. In fact our rate of job creation was four times the national rate of job creation, and most of the states if not all of the states that created more jobs than us are considerably larger than we are, California, Texas. On a month over month basis we’ve seen our unemployment rate coming down, we’re seeing job creation going up. Is it happening as fast as any of us would like for it to happen? No, but it is happening and it would not be happening without your courage and without your determination and without your commitment to the people who work in your businesses, your employees.
Frankly, I think sometimes those of us that are your public servants don’t say thank you to you enough. For all the meetings you’ve had to go through over these last three years when you’ve had to figure out how to get your bottom line, when you had to figure out and look your people in the eye and wonder whether you’re going to lay them off or whether you’re going to pull them together and get through this together. So I want to say thank you for what you are doing, what you have done and we are headed to a better place.
There are better days ahead for our State, better days ahead for our City but it’s in no small part due to your determination and sweat and commitment.
Dick Himmelfarb on the way in said, “I have some place to go tonight so you have to let me know how long your speech is going to be.” And I said, “Dick second term, very short speeches.” Thank you very much. But not that short let me wrap up and leave you with this.
The U.S. chamber of commerce has listed your State as one of the top two best states for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Kauffman Foundation ranks us among the top three for our ability to make this new economy ours. The Milken Institute ranks us among the top two in science and technology.
All of those are third party validators that tell us something that we sometimes forget ourselves, which is that we have everything we need to forge a better economy, to expand opportunity and to make our City and our State move forward.
We’re all in this together, we are Baltimore, we are Maryland, we are one people and we’re moving forward together.
Some of the most important things that we have to do we can only do together. The State’s smart growth challenge is the City’s smart growth salvation. We need to rebuild this city, only together can we do important things like the Red Line, only together can we do important things like better high speed rail between Washington and Baltimore, only together, and thank you Mr. Hackerman, can we do important things like creating a new arena that’s worthy of the great city of Baltimore!
Only together can we finally create a land bank after all the painstaking title clearances that we’ve done with the vacant parcels in our city; so that we can create a redevelopment authority and really get our City growing again, not only for the City’s sake but for the sake of the state. But there’s another important thing that we need not lose sight of, we must not lose sight of or else everything else goes kaput and that is building and rebuilding of community. That means safer streets, cleaner streets, better schools, healthier families, healthier kids, higher achievements in our schools.
I was talking to Mark Joseph on the way in here and I said, “I hope people realize how far we’ve come.”
It’s not to say that we don’t have a long way to go. But the highest number of kids scored proficient in our schools in the City of Baltimore. When we started testing, not one grade was majority proficient,… we are on the move.
There was a time ten years ago when we said we’d always be a violent city that’s just the way it is in Baltimore, now every year we ask what’s wrong when crime isn’t steadily going down. So we are making progress, we’ve come a long way in the last ten years, we’ve got a long way to go in the next ten years, but you know what we are going to get there. We can be bitter about what we’ve lost in this recession or we can focus on what we have in one another and focus on what we still have the ability to do.
We’ve got great leadership with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as Mayor.
We need this sort of leadership, and we need the sort of leadership that each and everyone of you has demonstrated these last difficult years and that I know you are committed to demonstrating in the years ahead.
Thanks very, very much.