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Q&A: Governor Larry Hogan reflects on entrepreneurship, small business and his two terms

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Governor Larry Hogan, the first Republican in 64 years to serve two consecutive terms as governor of Maryland, declared the state “open for business” and had high approval ratings throughout his tenure. In preparation for leaving office, Hogan answered several questions posed by the Governor’s Office of Small Business, Minority and Women’s Business as part of this year’s Empowerment Resource Guide.

1. What drew you to public service?

I never held public office before I was elected governor, but I have spent over 25 years building and running small businesses in the private sector. I saw a need and opportunity to bring financial responsibility and sound judgment to state government. I was also well aware of the history of one-party rule in Maryland and always believed in promoting the best ideas, no matter which side of the political path they came from. I believe we have truly changed Maryland for the better, and I am honored to have been able to serve my fellow Marylanders for the past eight years.

2. What entrepreneurial skills have you brought to government leadership?

Since taking office in 2015, our administration has employed some very important common sense principles that will certainly resonate with small business owners.

Exercise fiscal responsibility. Our state government must provide essential services, but we must do so in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. We inherited a $5.1 billion deficit and turned it into the largest surplus in state history.

Develop growth. Maryland is home to world-class universities and institutions. The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. Marylanders are hardworking, resourceful, and cheerful. Creating a nation where businesses can thrive requires vision and leadership that gives our citizens more jobs and more opportunities. After eight years of financial discipline and economic growth together, we have successfully brought Maryland’s economy back from the brink and created a record number of jobs.

Commitment to customer service. We have made a concerted effort to better serve and represent all of our citizens, in part by increasing the need for state governments to be more responsive to needs, be consistent in interpreting and implementing policies and procedures, facilitate access to information and resources, and promote a culture of honesty, clarity and trust.

3. How has your administration changed Maryland for the better for the small business community?

It’s not easy to run a small business. From day one, our administration has been committed to common sense reforms that remove unnecessary barriers to living, working, and doing business in Maryland. Immediately after taking office, we conducted the most extensive review of government regulations in decades and identified nearly 200 separate regulations for small businesses that we simplified or eliminated to eliminate bureaucratic red tape.

We have launched a new nationwide e-procurement platform called eMaryland Marketplace Advantage, or eMMA. eMMA will enable the government to create a fully electronic procure-to-pay system that will help improve efficiency, transparency, accountability and trust in all public procurement activities.

We also asked government agencies that interact with the business community to do more to help entrepreneurs at every stage of the business cycle. This has resulted in the creation of some very powerful tools, including the Entrepreneurship Center hosted by the Department of Commerce, the Maryland Business Express hosted by the State Department of Evaluation, and the Tech Training Class webinar series hosted by the Governor’s Office of Small Business, Minority and Women. Business affairs.

All of these efforts have contributed to Maryland’s rise to prominence in national small business rankings year after year, including being named one of the nation’s top five most innovative states in 2022. We have indeed made incredible progress.

4. Why was Is the State Small Business Reserve Program important to you?

As a former small business owner, I understand the passion, struggle, and rewards that come from finding your own opportunity. The Maryland Small Business Reserve Program provides small business owners with the best contracting opportunities.

After the pandemic, our state’s small businesses needed more access to more opportunities. My first order of 2021 was an enhancement to this program, requiring 66 government purchasing units to identify eligible purchases between $50,000 and $500,000.

We’re seeing an impact as more than 20% of all requests from Maryland go to small businesses. The state pays more than $425 million annually to certified PSAs. In 2022, state legislators made my executive order into law; I was pleased to see this, and I know that we can do more.

5. As we rebuild the state’s economy in the wake of COVID, how important is the resurgence of small businesses in Maryland?

The strength and resilience of our state’s small businesses and entrepreneurs has shown us all what it means to be strong in Maryland.

When the pandemic hit, our administration acted quickly and decisively. We have provided more than $250 million in emergency COVID-19 relief in the form of grants and loans to high street residents, restaurants, the hospitality and entertainment industry, the manufacturing sector, and nonprofits. As a result, Maryland’s economy has been ranked among the top 10 states for post-pandemic recovery.

To keep that momentum going, we’ve identified ways to reduce the cost of doing business in Maryland. In January, we eliminated filing fees for companies that submit their annual return online, making us the first state in the nation to provide a zero-fee option for all companies that submit this type of annual return. In July, we announced a significant increase in personal property tax credits from $2,500 to $20,000, representing $55 million in tax credits for Maryland’s 42,000 smallest businesses.

Small businesses need access to capital, so it’s important that we help fund key initiatives to ensure long-term economic impact in communities across the state. We have invested $198 million in our State Small Business Lending Initiative and $50 million to restore and expand entrepreneurial spaces through the Restoration Innovation Project. These efforts truly demonstrate how important the small business community is to our statewide economic stability.

6. Should small business owners pay attention to politics, and if so, why?

It can be difficult to stay involved in politics, especially when the political climate is as polarized as it has been in recent years. However, it’s important to be aware of how political decisions can affect your business, as well as a way to stay connected, continue to grow, and learn about new opportunities.

7. After all, being a governor is a job. What did you like most about your work?

We have achieved so much over the years together and we have a lot to be proud of. We have been able to keep most of our businesses open during the COVID-19 crisis. We have invested in major revitalization and development projects across the state. Our unemployment rate is the lowest since the start of the pandemic; our economy is growing at the fastest pace since the start of the pandemic; and a national study recently named Maryland the most business-led state in America.

For nearly eight years, I have had the opportunity to travel across the state and experience firsthand the dedication of Marylanders to their communities. It was extremely humbling to be a witness and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with so many people to bring about meaningful and lasting change, especially in areas that were previously ignored or neglected. We made it our mission to change Maryland for the better—and through bipartisan efforts and, as usual, challenging politics, we delivered exactly what we promised.

eight. Will your entrepreneurial spirit be part of your next chapter?

Being an entrepreneur and businessman will always influence my point of view and my approach to finding solutions. Right now I’m focused on finishing well in these last months.

Coverage for Minority/Emerging Businesses

Empowerment

This article is included in the 2022 edition of The Daily Record’s Guide to Empowering Small Businesses, Minority Enterprises and Women, published September 23. diversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the Maryland small business community. Learn more in the Power Up article or read the digital edition.

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