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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Billy Shreve

(11/11) If I were to ask you what state in the Union is among the most anti-business friendly states, Iím betting that most of you would be able to say Maryland, but do you know why we rank so low? In the immortal words of Paul Harvey, "Hereís the rest of the story."

According to The Daily Record, in 2011 Maryland slipped two spots in CNBCís rankings of the best states to do business this year, finishing No. 29 out of 50 after placing 27th in both 2009 and 2010.

What may be worse for the Old Line State is that Virginia Ė Marylandís most frequent foil when it comes to all things economic development and business friendliness Ė gained one place in the rankings and recaptured the top spot. The two big reasons for this improvement for Virginia Ė LESS TAXES and LESS GOVERNMENTAL REGULATIONS.

Furthermore, the study noted that Maryland didnít finish in the top five in any category the business news network used to determine the overall rankings. The state had its worst showing in cost of living, its 44th place ranking ahead of only New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Alaska and Hawaii.

Perhaps more surprising for Maryland, CNBC ranked the state 38th for work force and 30th for quality of life, two factors that state leaders talk up as some of the stateís best selling points. The workforce ranking was based on education (where Maryland should have done well), worker availability (where Maryland may have hurt been by its relatively low unemployment rate) and union membership. CNBC counts union membership against states and Marylandís stance has been very pro-union. It is the southernmost of the non-right to work states, a factor some economists believe hurts Maryland in its competition with Virginia and North Carolina.

Maryland also got crushed in the rankings on infrastructure and transportation, finishing 39th. The Baltimore and Washington regions are some of the most congested in the country, so thatís not a surprise. But the rankings also looked at the value of goods shipped through the state, road quality and the availability of air travel. Hampton Roads in Virginia does more business than the Port of Baltimore and while BWI is bigger than Reagan and Dulles, the two northern Virginia airports are larger when combined and Dulles offers far more international travel.

While we cannot control state regulations and policies, we can be pro-active here in Frederick County and try to do something to help our economy. As President Calvin Coolidge so eloquently stated, "The business of America, IS business."

Businesses create jobs and with jobs we can afford to have a decent quality of life. That is why I am sponsoring a legislative proposal in the Frederick County Legislative Package for the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly which will grant a tax credit to a small business if they create even one job.

As a Board of County Commissioners we have made it a priority or voted to streamline our business practices to aid in job creation and expansion. Just recently we have voted to take abolishing the Countyís Excise Tax to public hearing. This tax elimination will allow for more expansion for new businesses.

The County Commissioners have also pared the size of government and have been looking at every agency, program, and grant to make sure your tax dollars are spent in the wisest manner. This means being frugal, but also allows for the examination of how our government works and interacts with individuals and businesses. We make sure we provide only for the real needs of our citizens, and not one penny more. This allows for more money to remain in the hands of taxpayers and businesses. This in turn also places more money for investments in our local communities.

When this Board of County Commissioners was sworn in about ten months ago, we called the local businesses together to work with each other and the government on how we can aid in job growth and get government off the back and out of the way of job creators. From this endeavor we created a listing of Business Friendly Improvement Areas.

In less than one year we initially identified 181 items that could be addressed to improve our business climate here in Frederick County. Since then we have added an additional 54 items for a total of 235 business friendly action items. Since December 1, 2010, 92 items have been completed, this accounts for 50% of the initial listing and a 40% overall completion, and currently another 109 business friendly action items are underway.

This has been no small task. Rather the commitment of the Board to do everything we can to improve the quality of life here in Frederick County. While some of our actions have not been appreciated by everyone, we have done what we believe to be in the best interests of all Frederick County residents.

I for one am proud to say that Frederick County is OPEN for business!

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