Maryland Attorney General meets with United Auto Workers Local 171 about jobs
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a probable 2014 gubernatorial candidate, was talking manufacturing jobs instead of litigation Friday in a meeting with labor and management at the United Auto Workers Local 171 union hall in Hagerstown. (By Dustin Lawyer/ Staff Videographer / July 12, 2013)
Gansler made the visit as part of his “Building Our Best Maryland” tour to promote a seven-point program to encourage manufacturing in the state during a roundtable discussion.
“One thing you hear all the time is how many companies have left” the state, Gansler told a gathering of about 50 people, including executives from manufacturing companies Volvo, Cinetic Landis and Berwick Offray.
Only 5.3 percent of Maryland’s nonfarm jobs are in manufacturing, ranking it 43rd in the United States, Gansler said. In the 1960s, that figure was about 35 percent, according to a news release from the Gansler for Maryland committee.
In addition, each manufacturing job has a “multiplier effect,” creating four supporting jobs, Gansler said.
Maryland government policies have played a role in discouraging businesses from moving to the state, he said.
“Much of the reason a lot of companies leave Maryland, manufacturing and otherwise, is because of the over-regulation and the increased tax burden,” Gansler said after addressing the group. “Just in the last six or seven years, there have been 40 new taxes levied in Maryland.”
Gansler outlined a seven-point plan to stimulate manufacturing in Maryland, including “Buy Maryland,” which would revise procurement and grant policies for state agencies to give preference to goods and services made in Maryland when they are “competitively priced and of comparable quality.”
Gansler later said the state does not buy Mack trucks, even though Volvo has a production facility in Washington County.
He is also calling for industrial business zones, building on existing industrial areas by providing subsidized training, tax credits for companies moving into vacant sites and grants for capital projects and improvements.
A Maryland life-cycle manufacturing credit would extend the state’s research and development tax credit by offering it to companies that then produced those new products in Maryland, Gansler said. He noted Maryland is one of the top research and development states in the nation.
Gansler also called for a green and renewable energy tax credit for companies refitting vacant industrial sites for the production of solar, wind and other renewable energy products or components.
He also proposed a small business manufacturing initiative; a summer workforce training program for high school and college students; and a “Made in Maryland” media campaign.
“We have to spend an inordinate amount of time to get people trained” to work at industries like Volvo, UAW Local 171 President David Perkins told Gansler.
Wade Watson, Volvo Group vice president of operations, told Gansler that competing mid-Atlantic states often have aggressive incentive plans that include job training to meet the needs of companies.
“It’s a bidding process,” Watson told Gansler. “Maryland needs to be stepping forward.”
Cinetic Landis President Dan Pheil said his company has been able to get the skilled workers it needs but with some difficulty, with some workers coming from other states.
“I really like the ‘Buy Maryland’ (proposal), and I like the idea of a roundtable to get the opinions of local manufacturers about what would be good for us in Western Maryland,” Perkins said.
Gansler said it will likely be September when he officially announces whether he will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown has announced his intention to run to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley.
In addition to Gansler, other potential candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 2014 primary include Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County and U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
State Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County, Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young and former Republican National Committee Chairman and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele are among those who have announced they are running, or are considering a run, for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.