With the recent attacks on Facebook and the New York Times, and now the accusations that the Chinese military is infiltrating companies in the United States to steal trade secrets and information related to our infrastructure, it's becoming clearer every day that cybersecurity is an urgent issue facing our country. As governor, as co-chair of the National Governors Association's Special Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, I'm focused on doing all we can -- as a state and as a nation -- to ensure that our defenses are as robust as they can possibly be. But while the threat of a cyber attack poses immense challenges, it also creates opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation, and economic growth.
In Maryland, creating jobs remains our top priority. As of February 2013, Maryland has recovered jobs after the national recession at the 8th fastest rate in the nation, and at the fastest rate in our region. But the most important job we create is the next one.
We need to leverage our advantages to maximize job growth. Maryland is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's #1 State for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. We're the #1 state for R&D, the #1 state for human capital capacity, the #1 state for PhD engineers and scientists per capita, and Education Week magazine says we're #1 for education. With these assets, no state is better positioned than ours to create jobs through innovation. Cybersecurity is one sector in particular where we have distinct competitive advantages.
That's why three years ago, we created CyberMaryland -- a statewide effort focused on helping cyber companies grow, thrive, and innovate in our State. We developed InvestMaryland and expanded the Maryland Venture Fund to spur the growth of our emerging cyber companies. We created the Pathways to Cybersecurity Careers Consortium to train our highly skilled workforce in this critical field. And through the BRAC Higher Education Fund, we have invested in Maryland's community colleges and universities to help develop their cyber security curricula.
And we're seeing results.
Today, more than 130,000 Marylanders are employed in our state's growing cyber industry. We have more than 11,000 businesses generating nearly $12 billion in annual wages. Last year alone, Maryland's cybersecurity industry procured $7.76 billion in federal investment -- contracts that generate good-paying [private sector] jobs and keep Marylanders employed.
But this isn't a reason to rest on our laurels. It's an impetus for leveraging our resources and doing even more.
We are focused on doing everything we can to maximize our advantage to create as many jobs as we can: (1) the budget I submitted recently includes a new Cybersecurity Tax Credit, with the goal of encouraging investment in seed- and early-stage cyber security companies through a 33% refundable tax credit; (2) we're partnering with NIST to develop the National Cyber Center of Excellence here in Maryland; and (3) today we announced the appointment of Maryland's first Director of Cyber Development, an individual who will focus exclusively on maximizing job creation by attracting new cyber companies and investors to Maryland, supporting the continued expansion of cybersecurity programs, and assisting new cyber firms.
There is an adage in business that says that you should only compete when you have a competitive advantage. When it comes to cybersecurity, Maryland has a whole host of competitive advantages.
They are advantages that allow us to create jobs and build our innovation economy, while simultaneously protecting our security and safeguarding critical infrastructure.