Cumberland Times-News: Rosenbaum says state needs to create pathways to opportunity

By Brandon Glass on 7/26/2021

CUMBERLAND — Maryland gubernatorial candidate Mike Rosenbaum says for the state to make progress on economic and societal issues the next governor must focus on the causes of the state’s ills rather than treating the symptoms, as it does now.

Rosenbaum, a Democrat businessman and economist who worked for the Bill Clinton administration, says if he’s elected his administration would invest in training operations to bring middle and high income jobs to Western Maryland.

“For decades, we’ve essentially overlooked the western part of the state. When we’ve talked about the western part of the state, what we’ve talked about has been things like tourism and logistics jobs. Tourism and logistics jobs are incredibly important, but we need to talk about more than that,” Rosenbaum said. “In Maryland, we have a higher unemployment rate than two-thirds of other states and yet places can’t hire. We can attract jobs that pay an average $35/$40 an hour and create pathways into those jobs for folks in Western Maryland and that needs to be the aggressive investment we make in Western Maryland.”

In the community, the educational infrastructure is in place, Rosenbaum said, to open such a pathway toward jobs in the fields of tech and health care, pointing to First Data and Merkle in Hagerstown as the kinds of industry he would want to bring to Allegany and Garrett counties. As well, there was mention of easing the barrier to entry on starting a business and looking to the cluster-building strategies used to revitalize cities like Pittsburgh, Boston and Denver.

“An area that is key is investing in training. Each individual can develop the skills to be able to not be stuck anymore,” said Rosenbaum. “Today, so many of our fellow Marylanders are stuck in jobs that are minimum wage and don’t have a pathway up from there. (Pathways) that’s the best investment we can make as a state.”

In a break from what some other candidates have said, Rosenbaum acknowledged the need for infrastructure investment as obvious, but was uninterested in continuing to throw money at a problem, hoping just that would solve it — rather thinking about what comes after the infrastructure investment.

“The next step is leveraging the clusters that are already there — tech-related, health-related. The reality is in Maryland we have multiple industries that we can do this in — we’ve got tech, we’ve got health care, we’ve got skilled trades, we’ve got manufacturing,” he said. “We can create pathways to middle income and high income jobs if we stop paying so much attention to symptoms and start paying attention to causes.”

On the opioid problem, Rosenbaum would like to see more investment in mental health access and economic opportunity as the way out of the crisis, as the two are often “kindling that exacerbates issues of substance abuse.”

“We’ve historically been focused on just a couple of pieces of the state and we haven’t tied them together,” Rosenbaum said. “The fact that there are major employers in Western Maryland doing important work, and the fact that we haven’t focused on that, and we haven’t tied those employers to other parts of the state as a coherent whole, keeps us from creating the economic growth that we can create.”

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