The buzzword at the first-ever state business summit Thursday morning was “customer service.”
The phrase was a key component of the sales pitch Gov. Larry Hogan and state Commerce Secretary R. Michael Gill made to the hundreds of business and other community leaders who paid to attend the day-long conference in Baltimore.
The customers the state must serve are the hundreds of businesses based in Maryland, Gill said. He pointed to a $20 million deal with Marriott International to keep the hotel company’s headquarters in the state.
“They wanted to stay,” Gill said. “We just had to demonstrate that we cared whether or not they stayed.”
He said the secret to economic growth is retaining the companies already in Maryland, rather than simply attracting new businesses.
“You have to ask the customer, ‘How can we help you? What can we do?’” he said. “You create an environment where businesses can be successful.”
In addition to the Marriott deal, Hogan touted his administration’s work helping defense giant Northrop Grumman build a new headquarters and athletic apparel company Under Armour build a new facility at Sparrows Point in Baltimore County. Both projects received state financial support.