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Greenfields Community Living Project breaks ground


Groundbreaking was held for the Greenfields Community Living Project, in Jessup. This project is an investment of $990,000 by iHomes Inc. a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization and certified Community Housing Development Corp. (CHDO); it will utilize a variety of funding sources for the construction of three single-family, energy-efficient, net-zero housing units.

The future residents of the Greenfields Community Living Project (GCLP) will be some of the County’s most vulnerable residents; of very low income earning thirty percent or below of the HUD Baltimore- Columbia- Towson area median income, and have a diagnosed disability, varying from Autism Spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury and/or other intellectual disorders. This project is a remarkable demonstration of utilizing public and private funding to create quality energy efficient affordable housing for this vulnerable population.

“iHomes, Inc., the County’s only CHDO, is at the forefront of creating affordable housing for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said Kelly Cimino, director, Howard County Department of Housing. “Since 2012, the County and iHomes have partnered to create housing for [more than] 20 vulnerable individuals and invested almost $810,000 in HOME Program funds in housing projects for the residents they serve. We appreciate HUD’s support of innovative housing projects like Greenfields and want to thank Joseph DeFelice of the HUD Philadelphia office and Carol Payne of the HUD Baltimore office for attending the event today.”

Through the County’s annual entitlement allocation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this project is funded with Home Investment Partnership Program funds, the County’s Community Renewal MIHU fee-in-lieu funds, state bond financing and discretionary funds from the Weinberg Foundation.

These units will be owned and managed by iHomes as single-room occupancy units and every resident will have a lease and pay rent for his/her own room and the use of communal spaces. Residency in these affordable units will also include wrap-around services provided by Humanim, Inc., such as enrollment in adult day programs, independent living training, physical rehabilitation and teaching job readiness skills.

P.G. approves more residential for Bowie Sears


The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously voted to approve adding residential use to the former Sears site at Bowie New Town Center, off Collington Road and Evergreen Parkway. The site is zoned for retail and office use and the approved rezoning will permit residential.

The original application contemplated construction of up to 670 residential units on the 10.8-acre Sears parcel in particular, and another 130 units that were previously approved and unbuilt for the larger 246-acre Bowie Town Center. With this application, developer Seritage was seeking a total of 800 units across the latest phase of the New Town Center development, including up to 150 townhouses and, potentially, assisted living beds.
However, Bowie City Council voted on Wednesday for a conditional approval that requested the total maximum units be reduced from 800 to 600.

The Sears parcel may also host additional retail or office, or up to 150 hotel rooms, and the developer has been in talks with Prince George’s County Public Schools about whether it is feasible to use the vacant Sears building for flex space. The Bowie City Council also requested that the developer explore including some active adult units and/or affordable and workforce housing.

The details of what the new residential will entail will be submitted in later plan applications.


BWI Marshall, Smith honored for diversity, inclusion


BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and its Executive Director, Ricky Smith, were honored by Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) with two industry awards that recognize commitment and achievement in diversity in the aviation industry.

BWI Marshall was presented with ACI-NA’s Large Hub Inclusion Champion award, an annual honor that celebrates proactive and innovative steps taken by large airports to foster diverse businesses, workforce diversity, outreach, and advocacy. ACI-NA highlighted BWI Marshall’s demonstrated commitment to maximize local and minority business participation. In 2017, BWI Marshall partnered with its concessions developer to establish LaunchPad, a program encouraging new small, minority businesses at the airport.

BWI Marshall was also honored by ACI-NA for work to expand recruitment efforts and increase workforce diversity. The organization noted that, since 2015, women in executive management increased 129% at the airport, and racial diversity has increased among executive and senior management 300% and 64%, respectively. Since 2015, the airport has sponsored a Summer Youth Initiative to introduce underrepresented students to the aviation industry and stimulate career interest. More than 250 students from Baltimore City have been exposed to different airport operations.

“This honor confirms my pride in the many stellar professionals that hold BWI Marshall to be their employer of choice,” said Smith. “I have always held the belief that this airport is supported by many of the most competent and dedicated professionals in the industry. This honor recognizes our commitment to maintaining a diverse team that is actively engaged in driving performance excellence. As we strive to ‘be better,’ we will pursue every effort to continue living up to the principles of this award.”

ACI-NA also announced Smith as the recipient of its 2020 Leon C. Watkins “Guardian Award” for Excellence in Business Diversity. This new honor recognizes a leader who has promoted growth and evolution of minority- and women-owned businesses and suppliers, while also fostering advancement of civil rights and equal opportunities for all within the airport business environment.

Joint statement on School Resource Officers


Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano and Howard County Board of Education Chair Mavis Ellis released the following joint statement regarding Howard County Police Department School Resource Officers (SROs):

“The well-being and safety of our students, staff and school community is our number one priority and any decision will be made with that priority in mind. Earlier this summer, following a national discussion on the role of police officers in public schools, there were calls to remove Howard County Police Department (SROs) from the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). In response, we began planning a comprehensive community dialogue to examine our SRO program.

“Howard County Government and HCPSS will hold focus groups in October for students, families, school staff, and community stakeholders – followed by a public town hall in November. These will be preceded by a report due to the Board of Education on Sept. 24 entitled “School Resource Officers in Schools” and will provide a basis for these discussions.

“During the Sept. 10, 2020 Board of Education meeting, it was noted by the Superintendent that our current environment where students are learning virtually provides an opportunity for us to evaluate and discuss the ways we maintain a safe physical learning environment while tending to the welfare of each of our students. We must also fully understand the experiences and needs of each of our stakeholders as we consider this very important issue.

“Since the Board of Education voted not to remove School Resources Officers from HCPSS schools last week, we have witnessed impassioned dialogue from all perspectives throughout our community. As we work together as a united county on this issue, we will remind our residents to practice civility and help us facilitate this process to listen to the thoughts of all stakeholders involved.

“Together, through the lens of both safety and equity, we will find the right balance to maintain our county’s excellent reputation for diversity, inclusion, and academic success. We look forward to this public engagement process and making a final decision once we’ve completed this due diligence.”

New spirits in Old Ellicott City

Owners of the Ellicott Distilling Company (from left) Arkady Lapidus, Ravi Dixit, John Aguilera and Viral Patel.

Howard County’s second craft distillery opened without a lot of fanfare on April 13, just one month after the COVID-19 quarantine took effect.

Even so, the Ellicott Distilling Co. owners are happy with the response they’ve had.

“Right now, it’s all we can do to keep up with demand,” said Arkady Lapidus, a Citi Bank analytics specialist. “Our timing was perfect because we opened up for online ordering and curbside pickup has been very popular.”

Presumably, it’s the first distillery to operate in Ellicott City since the early 1800s, when the founding Ellicott brothers operated three stills on the eastern bank of the Patapsco River.

“Our capacity is about 500 bottles a week but we haven’t sold or produced that many yet,” Lapidus said.

Currently, the distillery is producing 80-proof rum, London Dry Gin, vodka and a line of 54-proof fruit liqueurs that include blueberry, strawberry, Orangecello, and Limoncello.

It also produces a lemongrass-flavored vodka and raspberry-flavored vodka.

Ramping Up

It’s been more of a soft opening than the owners were planning.

“We have a full tavern upstairs and we are planning to get into food service but the pandemic has slowed us down,” said John Aguilera, an IT professional who also has a sales background. “Having 50 percent occupancy makes it really difficult, so being able to staff all of that just doesn’t work out at the moment.”

The distillery employs approximately seven and is open for mini-tours and tastings with proper protective equipment and social distancing precautions.

According to Lapidus, the partners have already produced a few barrels of young bourbon and young rye, though they’re not for sale yet.

“We’ll be releasing about a barrel a month of the young [whiskeys] and laying down bigger barrels for at least two years to sell as straight bourbon and straight rye,” he said.

All of the grain used in production is locally sourced in Cecil County.

“We’re not sourcing locally for the flavorings yet but we’ll get to that later and source them as locally as possible,” Lapidus said.

Aside from on-site sales, which include cocktails to go, the owners have also made appearances at farmers markets throughout the region.

They hope to sign a contract with a distributor in the fall and begin selling to local liquor stores, bars and restaurants.

“We have a loyalty program and hope to get a lot of repeat customers and we have seen some of that already,” Lapidus said.

Emphasis on Craft

Rather than focus on a flagship product, the owners are placing the emphasis on the craft of distilling and want to introduce customers to the extensive variety of distilled spirits that are enjoyed throughout the world.

“Each partner brings in some knowledge from different cultural backgrounds that we can use to look at different recipes to produce on a small scale,” Aguilera said, with an eye to bringing different and unfamiliar products to the local market.

“I come from Eastern Europe and have always been fascinated by all the varieties of homemade spirits you can get there,” Lapidus said. “Every village has their own version of a liqueur they are very proud of. I helped my wife’s family distill on occasion and learned a lot from them and the rest I picked up from books and experimentation. It’s a fun hobby that we managed to turn into a business.”

Aguilera’s cultural influence comes from his Argentinian parents and their western European friends.

“Part of my experience at home included tasting homemade wines and appreciating different flavors of homemade cooking from different cultures,” he said. “This extended into my appreciation of different alcohols. The distillery business appeals to me because it allows us to express our creativity and art form to more people than just our families, and share different flavors from a variety of cultures with everyone.”

The Vision

Aguilera and Lapidus ultimately envision a dispensing setup similar to large breweries or taverns with an array of taps on the wall.

“We really want to become known as a place where you can order a cocktail and every ingredient in that drink will be made here,” Lapidus said, with the exception of vermouth, tequila and a few other spirits that are problematic from either a technical or legal standpoint.

For the foreseeable future, Ellicott Distilling Co. will continue to bottle and label by hand, test the market and slowly build out its line.

“We depend a lot on word of mouth and we’re building a good reputation on the street,” Aguilera said. “We’ll be expanding operations more as COVID regulations relax a little bit and getting the employees to support that.”

By George Berkheimer | Senior Writer | The Business Monthly | September 2020 Issue

AAEDC campaigns to ‘Shop Safe, Shop Local’


The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) launched its “Shop Safe. Shop Local. Shop ArundelBiz.” marketing campaign to highlight the importance of patronizing small businesses in Anne Arundel County.

“Many locally-owned shops, restaurants, services and organizations have pivoted their operations to help keep their customers and employees safe,” said AAEDC CEO Ben Birge. “We hope customers can appreciate the significant investments in these new tools and procedures and support our small businesses. Remember when we buy local, we support jobs in our county and ensure that our tax dollars stay here, too.”

The campaign coincides with the Anne Arundel County Council’s resolution declaring September Back to Business Month. Campaign elements include a website advertisement and radio commercial that will run on local media outlets. The AAEDC will share these and other creative elements on its digital channels and also with local business associations to expand the promotion’s reach.

AAEDC also will promote the county’s farmers markets and agricultural businesses during the campaign. Customers can easily buy local by visiting and searching the online Arundel Grown Guide at www.aaedc.org/agriculture/overview/agriculture-guide.

Additionally, AAEDC is partnering with local business groups to distribute cloth masks to area companies.  The masks are from the inventory of the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management and AAEDC staff will be delivering boxes to its partners. Businesses do not have to be a member of the organization to receive the masks.

AAEDC’s marketing campaign comes on the heels of its successful Customer and Employee Protection (CEP) Grant Program. The initiative was supported by $5 million from Anne Arundel County’s allotment of funding from the CARES Act. The grants allowed small businesses to purchase items and services to enhance safety practices, e-commerce and virtual customer engagement.

From inception on June 3 to the program’s end on June 24, AAEDC approved 788 grants with an average grant amount of about $6,370.

Tipton Airport to receive $880,000 in federal funds

Photo by Emily Calkins

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announced an award of $884,646 in federal funds Tipton Airport Authority. The funding is awarded through the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

These funds will go toward the maintenance and rehabilitation of 70,000 square feet of existing hangars used for aircraft storage.

Funding is made available through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Grant and the authorized CARES Act funds waive local cost share requirements for fiscal 2020. The lawmakers previously announced more than $107 million in COVID-19 economic relief for Maryland airports.


YouTube Music, NIVA partner for music venues


YouTube Music and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) have announced a partnership with the goal of helping to preserve independent live music venues across the United States through the Save Our Stages initiative. NIVA’s mission is to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues, such as Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, and promoters throughout the United States.

Together, YouTube and NIVA will work on programming that will help bring live performances back into music venues safely. In addition, YouTube will help raise awareness and funding for the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund.

NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund was created to support America’s most vulnerable venues and is intended to provide short-term relief for independent music venue owners and promoters on the precipice of eviction or permanently shuttering due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The fund is intended to work hand-in-hand with federal and local programs, assisting with the most immediate needs facing the country’s independent venues and promoters and making it more likely that they will be able to reopen, fully, when it’s safe.

“YouTube is a place where artists and fans around the world come to connect and build community. With traditional concerts on hold, never has there been a more important time to support the live music industry through our partnership with NIVA. We’re committed to doing our part in saving independent venues and continuing to bring artists and fans together through music,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer.

“With the entire independent venue and promoter industry on the verge of massive collapse, we’ve been fighting urgently for the Save Our Stages Act which will provide meaningful relief to our members and the independent music community,” said Stephen Sternshein, co-founder/treasurer of NIVA, and managing partner of Heard Presents in Austin. “YouTube’s direct involvement helps us generate awareness for the plight of independent live music and raise funds for NIVA’s Emergency Relief efforts. This could literally be the difference between some venues going under or holding on until Congress comes back from recess to pass much-needed federal relief. The independent concert industry will be reeling for years to come from the devastating revenue loss related to COVID-19, so we’re excited about what YouTube and NIVA can do together to bring the live experience back.”

Central Maryland Chamber hosts Spirit of Community Awards


The Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce (CMC) will host the annual Spirit of Community Awards virtually on Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. CMC’s Spirit of Community Awards celebrates the individuals who make the region special, this annual event honors educators, public safety officers, and military personnel for their community contributions.

The CMC announced 2020-21 Spirit of Community Winners and Nominees:

Public Safety Winners

Police Officer of the Year: Cpl. Richard Brookman, Anne Arundel County Police

Police Officer of the Year:  Sgt. Charles Boswell, Laurel Police Department

Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year: Cpl. Michele Goodman, Office of the Sheriff, Anne Arundel County

Volunteer Firefighter of the Year: Zachary Zwicker, Odenton Volunteer Fire Company

Firefighter of the Year: Captain Paul Supko, Anne Arundel County Fire Department

Military Service Member of the Year: SSG Jacob W. Huffman, Fort Meade/NSA

Public Safety Officer of the Year: Michelle Claycomb, Anne Arundel County Crossing Guard

Public Safety Officer of the Year: Tonia Beaty, Anne Arundel County Crossing Guard


Elementary Educator of the Year Nominees

Sandra Chedick, Pershing Hill Elementary School

Edison Cabrera, Manalo, Monarch Global Academy

Mallory Cramer, Waugh Chapel Elementary School


Middle School Educator of the Year Nominees

Tiffany Grove, Arundel Middle School

Sherise Webb, MacArthur Middle School

Heather Carter, Bates Middle School


High School Educator of the Year Nominees

Amber Boyd-Miller, Old Mill High School

Tuesdai Ingulia, Chesapeake Science Point

Dr. Gary Van Essen, Arundel High School


Administrator of the Year Nominees

Kim VerMerris, Pershing Hill Elementary School

Wendy Slaughter, Arundel Middle School

Eugene Whiting , MacArthur Middle School

Paul DeRoo, Wiley H. Bates Middle School


Administrative Support Staff of the Year Nominees

Charm Herring, Crofton Elementary School

Ann Autry, Waugh Chapel Elementary School

JoAnn Degreenia, Old Mill High School

Ghislenny Gonzalez, Monarch Global Academy

Shafeqah Mordecai, Arundel High School


“We are so excited to celebrate and honor some of the incredible individuals who serve our community. Our region’s high quality of life is due in large part to the people we will be recognizing. We hope you can join us virtually to thank those who make our region one of the best places to live, work, and do business!” Kristi Simon, CMC President & CEO.


For more information about the event or to register, visit HERE.

Ambu gets contract for single-use cystoscope


Ambu Inc., Columbia-based manufacturer of single-use endoscopes, has been awarded a contract with UroGPO, the largest group purchasing organization for private urology practice clinics in the U.S.

The three-year agreement is awarded for Ambu’s aScope 4 Cysto and a View 2 Advance HD Monitor. The aScope 4 Cysto is the only single-use cystoscope on contract with UroGPO. The partnership with UroGPO – with members representing 619 Urology Group Practices and 167 Ambulatory Surgery Centers with more than 3,400 Urologists – will accelerate Ambu’s entry into the office-based urology segment.

“This partnership allows Ambu to access a large number of private practice urology clinics and ambulatory surgery centers across the U.S. with our single-use cystoscope. We are excited to bring the benefits of sterile single-use cystoscopy to the UroGPO membership so they can experience the excellent image quality and capitalize on the simplified workflow and improved productivity,” said Jens Kemp, vice president of marketing for Ambu.

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