- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Say goodbye to Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development, and hello to the Department of Commerce.

The new name is more than cosmetic, however. Gov. Larry Hogan said the Department of Commerce will focus more on Maryland’s business interests in its new configuration.

“Over the last eight months, we have begun to deliver on our promise to ensure that Maryland is open for business,” Mr. Hogan said Thursday. “Maryland is now adding jobs at a faster rate than any other state in our region, but there is still a great deal more work to be done to get our economy back on track.”

The same official — Mike Gill — will continue to head the agency, but will now be secretary of commerce.

Mr. Gill will be in charge of coordinating with other agencies and working with six in particular: the governor’s Office of Minority Affairs; the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; the Department of Transportation; the Department of the Environment; the Department of Planning; and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Department of Commerce will put about 230 employees in “customer-facing positions,” and will be hiring more people to assist companies with expansion, location scouting, financing and navigating the state’s business regulations.

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The department also aims to put more emphasis on coordinating with the state’s higher education community by hiring liaisons to work with colleges and encouraging growth in industries such as life sciences, cybersecurity, manufacturing, aerospace and defense.

“The words aren’t in our name any longer, but the new Department of Commerce is going to make sure ‘economic development’ is in Maryland’s DNA,” Mr. Gill said.

The name change was a recommendation of the state’s Economic and Business Climate Commission, also known as the Augustine Commission after its leader, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine.

The new name, though, does not actually match the name in the Augustine Commission’s recommendation, which proposed the Department of Economic Competitiveness and Commerce.

In his executive order establishing the new agency, Mr. Hogan opted for the shorter Department of Commerce.

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