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Maryland this week again made the top five in a national ranking of states for their innovation and high-tech job growth environment.

Maryland was fifth in the report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, behind Massachusetts, Delaware, Washington state and California. Key regional competitor Virginia ranked sixth, while Pennsylvania was 22nd and North Carolina 25th.

Researchers reviewed factors such as high-tech job growth and innovation capacity. Maryland and Virginia benefit from “high concentrations of knowledge workers, many employed with the federal government or related contractors in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.,” the report said.

Maryland ranked third in the three previous lists released in 2010, 2008 and 2007. Massachusetts also topped those lists but no longer holds a commanding lead, as Delaware is “perhaps the most globalized of states” and has made great improvements in research and development investment and its green economy, researchers said.

Maryland is strong in many areas for entrepreneurial companies but tends to bog down a lot of startups in regulations, some representatives of local businesses said during a forum this week coordinated by the Tech Council of Maryland.

“The key to the country’s economic future is growing small businesses into companies that go public,” said Joseph Greeves, executive vice president and CFO of geospatial business GeoEye of Herndon, Va. “But it’s hard to do that because of over-regulation.”

More public assistance for entrepreneurs and research funds are needed, and states should work with the federal government and even each other, Robert Atkinson, president of the foundation, said in a statement.

“In today's highly competitive environment, states must work together and with the federal government to overhaul their economic development policies,” Atkinson said. “Too often, states still view their economic competitors as next door, rather than halfway around the world.”

kshay@gazette.net