Texas Gov. Rick Perry might have succeeded in his trip to Maryland to lure businesses to his home state, but so far, the only businesses that might move aren’t from Maryland. One is based in Virginia, and the other is in Colorado.
Perry, a Republican who ran for president in 2012, met with about 50 business and government representatives Wednesday at Morton’s in Bethesda in a well-publicized effort to encourage Maryland businesses to leave the state, and its taxes, and head to Texas.
“Texas is the fastest growing state in jobs,” Perry said Wednesday before a substantial group of broadcast and print reporters outside Morton’s, following his closed-door meeting inside. “Our two states are going in opposite directions.”
Perry said it was “premature” to announce that any Maryland businesses are moving to Texas.
However, Janice Grenadier, founder of Alexandria-based My Pillow Pack — which provides a handy, stylish way to carry pillows like a backpack — said she has tried for three years to obtain funding and support in the Washington, D.C., area without luck.
“I’ve already received more support from these Texas officials here today than I have the past three years,” she said.
Joe Wagner, sales manager for Aurora, Colo., alternative energy business Zeus Power Systems, said he and others want to start a solar panel firm in Maryland, but the process “hasn’t been easy.”
“We are looking into moving,” said Wagner, who attended the Bethesda meeting. “I’m impressed with Colorado, but it’s even getting tougher to run a business there,” he said. “There are always more taxes and red tape.”
Other business executives said they would keep their enterprises in Maryland.
Perry and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who is eyeing a 2016 White House run, have dueled in the past week or so over Maryland’s tax climate and other matters. Perry is running ads on local radio and television stations trying to lure Maryland businesses to Texas.
Perry said Wednesday that he had “no idea” what he would do in 2016.
The governors debated Wednesday evening on CNN’s “Crossfire” program. On Wednesday, Perry also toured the Beretta USA gun factory in Accokeek; the company has considered moving from the state.
O’Malley disputed Perry’s job-growth claim during the debate and in printed material. He said Maryland’s economy is better designed to help raise middle-income workers than Texas, which ranks high in poverty and low in residents with health insurance.
O’Malley also said Maryland has fared well in studies such as one by the Anderson Economic Group that showed Maryland businesses had the seventh-lowest local and state tax burden in 2011 — a look at taxes such as corporate income, sales and property — while Texas ranked 17th.
Michael Binko, president and CEO of kloudtrack, a high-tech company with offices in Rockville and Annapolis, said taxes should not be the defining issue for where a business is based.
“The quality of schools and the work force, as well as venture funding programs, are two other important considerations,” said Binko, co-chair of entrepreneurial advocacy group Startup Maryland. He and others listened to Perry’s remarks outside Morton’s.
While Texas has lured a few businesses from Maryland, aided by a substantial incentive program, Maryland has attracted a good number of out-of-state companies, said Julie Lenzer Kirk, director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship and co-chair of Startup Maryland.
“Both states have a lot to offer businesses,” said Kirk, who grew Applied Creative Technologies to multi-millions in revenues before selling the software assets to a business partner.
Diana Waterman, Maryland’s Republican Party chairwoman, who also attended the Bethesda meeting, said Perry shined some important light on tax issues in the state.
“We’d prefer that businesses stay here and help us elect more Republicans to office,” she said.