Maryland’s transportation investments boost global profile

(Jeff Samet from Cassidy Turley and Jamie Condie from BD Diagnostics – both board members. Courtey photo)

Darrell Mobley, Maryland’s Acting Secretary of Transportation, beamed like a proud parent as he listed the State’s 2012 transportation accomplishments, led by the Port of Baltimore.

“It seems like every day, the Port is breaking another record, or taking another step forward to prepare us for its future,” Mobley said Thursday evening at a World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) event in Baltimore.

Mobley made his State of the Ports address to a couple hundred Maryland business and government leaders on the Baltimore World Trade Center’s top floor. They gathered to mark the WTCI’s 23rd anniversary and plot Maryland’s future place in the global economy.

“Our challenge is to continue to build on the momentum we’ve built [this year],” Mobley said.

The year’s highlight at the Port, Mobley said, was the June arrival of four massive container cranes from China. The cranes, which are 400-feet tall and can lift more than 187,000 pounds of cargo, were installed at the Seagirt Marine Terminal and will be fully certified and operational by the end of the year. With the new cranes installed, the Port will be able to attract some of the largest container ships in the world.

Harold Adams and Helen Bentley at the World Trade Center event Thursday. (Courtesy photo)

“This project is a great model for Maryland’s economy, and it’s also responsible for creating 5,700 new jobs,” Mobley said.

The Port remains one of the State’s main economic engines, Mobley said, as general cargo is up 10 percent in 2012, autos are up 22 percent, and roll on/roll off farm and construction equipment was up 26 percent.

“Business at the Port of Baltimore generates about 14,600 direct jobs, while about 108,000 jobs in Maryland are linked to Port activities,” Mobley said. “The Port is responsible for $3 billion in personal wages and $300 million in taxes.”

Harold Adams, WTCI Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of RTLK Associates, said Maryland’s investments in transportation have spurred the State’s growth. WTCI has helped the State’s business and government community build international bonds.

“What (WTCI) has done is married the keys that the government has … together with business,” Adams said. “That marriage has created incredible global opportunities.”

Adams was the Chairman of RTKL Associates when he founded WTCI in 1989 with Maryland Governor William Donald Shaefer.  He recalled a conversation he had 23 years ago with a member of the State Department of Business & Economic Development.

Shaefer recently had returned from a tour of Asia and was impressed by some countries’ World Trade Centers, and how the centers educated businesses and the public on the importance of joining the global marketplace, Adams said.

“[Shaefer] said, ‘I want one,’” Adams said. “So that’s where this all started, and any of you that ever had any dealings with Governor Shaefer … when he wanted one, he got it.”

Deb Kielty, WTCI President and Executive Director, highlighted some other Maryland companies’ big global moves in 2012:

  • Duane Morris, with offices in Baltimore, expanded involvement in international trade and shipping industry issues in the United States with Consumer Product Safety Commission matters.
  • Carnival Cruises signed a five-year extension to continue offering year-round cruises from the Port of Baltimore. Mobley said the cruising industry generates about $90 million annually for the State.
  • M&T Bank expanded its portfolio by adding nine new transactions totaling $16 million in credit facilities, which assist companies in expanding their business internationally.
  • McCormick released its first global edition of the Flavor Forecast, the company’s trend report on the future of flavor. The company in August also agreed to acquire Wuhon Asia-Pacific Condiments Co., a leader in bouillon in Central China.

As WTCI members and other business leaders networked, Kielty talked about the importance of building global relationships.

“We know it’s very critical to network the private sector with government and with higher education,” she said. “Those three usually result in some good improvements or open some doors that otherwise might not have been opened.

“We’re excited about the State of the Port,” Kielty added. “It’s a big growth engine for this economy in Maryland. It’s nice to see so many transportation people out tonight.”