I am pleased that Maryland showed marked improvement from the first to the second report and that INC. cited Maryland for its increase in state support. Nevertheless, I believe that INC. continues to underrate Maryland's favorable climate for small business. The INC. study, like other rankings, has inherent weaknesses since it is based on composite ratings weighted by a series of quantifiable economic statistics.

We in Maryland are continually assessing and improving our business climate. The process leads to the addition of new programs and the modification of others. Recent examples of new or modified programs to maintain or improve Maryland's pro-business climate include: establishment of a financial assistance office, with close liaison with the Maryland banking community; establishment of an export trade assistance program; a series of one-day governor's conferences outlining available assistance to business and industry; and the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, which makes guarantees and loans for working capital and equity investment to small and minority companies.