At research park, O'Malley touts positive jobs trend
The National Cancer Institute's 330,000 square foot construction project is on Progress Drive in Frederick -- seemingly the perfect place to deliver a campaign message.
That's where Gov. Martin O'Malley appeared yesterday afternoon as part of his "Jobs Across Maryland Tour." Although he is conducting the months-long tour as governor, not as a candidate for reelection this fall, it is a vehicle for his campaign message of "moving Maryland forward."
But the Frederick development, called Riverside Research Park, is relatively detached from the O'Malley administration and its policies.
It has been in the works for more than five years, officials say, and relies upon no federal stimulus money and no state economic development breaks. Contractors say they won't be tapping into the state's new tax break for companies that hire unemployed Marylanders, since it doesn't include temporary labor.
Dr. John E. Niederhuber, director of the National Cancer Institute, said the economic downturn slowed the project, "but we kept working, and things began to turn around last summer," adding that no government program pushed construction forward.
Bradley C. Guyton, president of builder Morgan-Keller said he couldn't use the state's incentive program, a $5,000 credit for each unemployed Marylander hired, because "the economy's too difficult to maintain a stable of people." The tax break has been used 70 times since it was signed into law this spring, the governor said.
In his speech at the site, O'Malley took no credit for the development but hailed it as representative of the kind of jobs growth he has fostered.
The research park, which will open next year and eventually be home to about 500 scientists and other employees, is just the kind of "innovation economy" that makes Maryland unique, he said. The construction alone has generated about 350 jobs. The park is designed to encourage public-private partnerships -- with the federal research facility ringed by outposts for pharmaceutical companies, Niederhuber said.
O'Malley, a Democrat, is part of a chorus of candidates repeating a refrain about the economy and jobs. His likely opponent, Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has criticized the current administration as hostile to small business. Ehrlich outlined some ideas for improving the state's business climate in campaign events earlier this week.
O'Malley, at the Frederick stop, called small business part of "a larger story," saying the state should key in on its innovation potential. He has long trumpeted Maryland's burgeoning bioscience and technology industries.
The governor's jobs tour continues this week with a Thursday stop in Baltimore. He will participate in a “move-in” ceremony for Morgan Stanley’s new location, part of a planned expansion creating up to 1,000 new jobs, his aides say.