By Lindsey Collins
Ben Jealous, a Maryland gubernatorial candidate, brought representatives from Google to meet with local leaders in Baltimore and Prince George’s County on Thursday, April 26 in hopes of increasing tech investments across the state.
“We have the opportunity here in Maryland to leverage our diversity, our tech talent, and our world-class universities to build a better economy for all of us,” Jealous wrote via Twitter.
Jealous, accompanied by David Drummond, the senior vice president of corporate development for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Bradley Horowitz, VP at Google, visited multiple higher education institutions in Prince George’s County and Baltimore areas, as well as Baltimore tech companies Catalyte, BridgeEdu and Barcoding Inc., according to Technical.ly Baltimore.
“We have been very impressed with our visit so far and seeing the infrastructure people are really intentionally putting together here to try grow the ecosystem,” Drummond told The Journal. “As a company, we want to invest and grow in places that have a lot of diverse talent.”
Jealous hoped to show the executives that Maryland has a diverse technology workforce and prompt the initiation of startups throughout the state in order to diversify the industries.
“We need to learn from our current over dependence on the federal government that our economy needs to be attractive to dozens of industries, not just one or two,” Jealous wrote on his Facebook page.
In recent years, the University of Maryland College Park has received millions of dollars in donations for the development of state-of-the-art computer science and engineering buildings. These include donations funding the newly finished A. James Clark Hall and the near-completed Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation scheduled to open later this year.
“UMD has vastly improved its tech on campus, at least in the computer science department with the near completion of the new Brendan Iribe Center, but lacks giving students and classes the hands-on experience with new technology such as AR and VR, so increased investment would allow for students to be better prepared for a 21st century economy,” said Matt Aird, a sophomore computer science and government and politics double major. “My education is based on how well the university invests in technology and without it, I would’ve gone to a school that did invest in computer science and technology.”
Some students at this university hope that donations like those given to the computer science department will come to other schools on campus.
“I hope they give money to more than just engineering. Some of the schools have outdated buildings,” freshman Abby Espiritu said. “I’m a journalism student and I feel grateful to have one of the newer facilities on campus. I think the idea is great and I can’t wait to see what comes from the collaboration.”
Jealous, who announced his candidacy last May, hopes to use Google’s existing ties to through co-founder and University of Maryland alumnus Sergey Brin to ensure investment in Maryland.
“What we want to focus on is ‘how do we take one of the places with ties to the origin of Google and create more opportunities for both this place and that company,’” Jealous said to the Baltimore Business Journal. “I hope they see we have great building blocks here for a great tech economy.”