Archived Articles: July 2017

Columbia Spotlight Shifts, Shining Back on Lakefront

 

For what was once considered the center of a nascent downtown, the Columbia Lakefront hasn’t gotten much attention in what seems like a long time.
It’s seemed that, though the Downtown Columbia Master Plan has been approved for several years and a number of projects are underway or already finished, the buzz has focused elsewhere, moving from the area around The Mall in Columbia to Merriweather Post Pavilion, Symphony Woods and the Merriweather District. But now, the light is shining back on the Lakefront.

It’s with the beginning of the 16-step Lakefront project — the first two steps of which are complete — that the interest of the locals is turning toward the banks of Lake Kittamaqundi, with a completion date for the whole thing set for 2019 by main stakeholders The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) and Columbia Association (CA). The project will include 180,000 square feet of office space, more than 500 residential units in three buildings (two condominiums, one apartments), street-front retail and restaurants, and more parking.

Greg Fitchett, senior vice president of development for HHC, said that while the in-renovation-mode Merriweather Post Pavilion “is the beating heart of Downtown,” the time has come to shine that bright light on the Lakefront, which he calls “the soul” of Downtown.

Early Stages

While there are several distinct neighborhoods in the Downtown Columbia Master Plan, Fitchett divides that area into three sections: The Mall in Columbia and its surrounds; Merriweather Post Pavilion and “The Crescent”; and the Lakefront.

To follow the Lakefront project timeline from the beginning, the pre-submission community meeting was held a few weeks ago and attracted “about 50 people,” he said; next up was the design advisory panel, which included the observations of six design professionals and about 20 other attendees, in mid-June.
Both meetings went well, Fitchett said. “We got a lot of positive feedback from the community.”

And now come the next 14 steps.

Next on the agenda is the formal submittal to the Howard County Planning Board, Fitchett said, “which will span the property from Whole Foods to the old exhibit buildings, as well as the building with Clyde’s, the old Copeland’s deck and the space that is now occupied by the American City Building (which is scheduled for eventual demolition) and its parking lot.”

HHC and CA hope to complete the first eight steps this year, second eight next year, then start construction in 2019.

“The final development plan is really the first step in the process,” Fitchett said, “where the streetscape, housing density and design guidelines will be discussed.”
Among its highlights, he said, “will be new amenity spaces. The old ones, like the existing plaza with the pavilion, fountain and dock with the bell tower, are owned by CA and will be part of what is called the Lakefront Connection, which will link Little Patuxent Parkway to the Lakefront, essentially in the footprint of the American City Building. It will feature close to an acre of new space.

By Design

HHC is working with CA on the Lakefront project because CA owns most of the space; HHC owns some next to Whole Foods that also will be part of the final design. The organizations also have hired a design firm, Groundswell Design Group, of Philadelphia.

“[HHC and CA] were both impressed by Groundswell,” said Fitchett. “They’ve done great work in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the country, and what they’ve done elsewhere concerns existing and underutilized public spaces, especially those that are adjacent to water.”

On that note, Fitchett pointed to the example of Spruce Street Harbor Park, also in Philadelphia, which features many of what he termed “simple activations” — like cantilevered seating areas that hang over water at what www.visitphilly.com lauds as “one of the best urban beaches in America.” A floating restaurant and plenty of LED lighting are among its other features.

One attraction that already seems to be part of the plan would certainly get plenty of locals and visitors to stop on by. “We’re proposing a public neighborhood square of 25,000 square feet to the north of Whole Foods. That’s one of the features of the Downtown Master Plan, and we hope to accelerate its development. The big fountain will still be there and another part of the site would be for a proposed veterans’ monument.”

Take a Walk

That’s just one of the ideas that HHC, CA and Groundswell are discussing to make the Lakefront more usable, said Jane Dembner, director of planning and community affairs for CA.

“People like owning property on, and being near, the water, and that’s our main body of water in Columbia,” said Dembner, noting the 2014 completion of the pathway around the lake, the use of which “has doubled since. And [the Lakefront] is flat, so that makes it more usuable.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the project is that HHC is adding green space, “which is required in every neighborhood, no matter what’s already there.”

Saying that ideas and efforts are preliminary thus far, Dembner said that CA wants to “do everything at the same time HHC does,” as both entities invest in respective plans for the Lakefront and work together to make it the walkable attraction that it was intended to be.

“Frederick now has the Riverwalk, but it didn’t always,” she said. “It’s beautiful. We want to enhance what we have, as they did. CA already has much going on at the Lakefront, like free yoga, movies, concerts, model boat races, ice sculptures, etc. We want to enhance its function as our central gathering place.”

As for Groundswell, Principal David Fierabend said the firm has gained an understanding of the psychology of how people connect with space, and of many best practices concerning activating space along a waterfront.

“While the final concepts are still in development, people can expect to see many artful influences through landscaping and materiality,” Fierabend said.

Focus, Vibrancy

From the county level, Val Lazdins, director of planning and zoning, thinks the proposal for the Lakefront is a great step forward for Downtown.
“It shifts the focus from The Crescent, which is the most visible public amenity area, but when people drive by on Route 29, they mainly see trees; so this new project at the Lakefront is an opportunity to set a new standard in terms of architectural design,” said Lazdins.

The American City Building, which was designed at the very outset of Columbia, was something that was needed at the time, but has stood out like a bad advertisement for the 1960s since and is part of the reason why a drive by the Lakefront doesn’t really offer a passerby any sense that much is happening there.
“Now, we can change the architecture by including more iconic designs that will attract more people to Downtown,” Lazdins said. “[Famed architect Frank] Gehry’s Rouse/Whole Foods building presents a real opportunity to move that design quality forward and help anchor the Lakefront as one of the key destinations in Downtown.”

Many of the locals may not realize that Downtown was once the first place anyone who came to Columbia went. “When Columbia was a younger city, the Visitor Center was Downtown, since it was the marketing focus for potential residents and employers. It was where the action was,” said Lazdins.

Such thinking is key to the project’s success, said Mike Davis, senior partner with Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, which operates from its offices on the Lakefront. “The design of the buildings will be critical,” Davis said. “Cutting-edge architecture that can draw people Downtown will boost this project forward and give all Columbians something they can be proud of.

“Yes, there must be appropriate public spaces and an effective transportation system that relies on more than just cars,” he said, “but the thrill of our new Downtown will be in its architecture.”

“In the big picture,” said Brad Rogers, principal with Advanced Placemaking, of Baltimore, “Howard County won the battle of the 20th century that became the model, and it needs to remain relevant to the 21st century by creating the kinds of vibrant urban centers that young people are looking for.”
“It’s really exciting to be working on the Lakefront project,” Fitchett said. “It may sound like a cliché, but what went around — albeit 50 years ago — is finally coming back around in Downtown Columbia.”

Gaming Association Touts Benefits of Live! Casino

 

On the third stop of its nationwide American Gaming Small Business Jobs Tour, American Gaming Association (AGA) advocates stopped in Hanover to help mark the Live! Casino’s fifth anniversary.

The Live! at 5 celebration on June 22 coincided with a Minority Outreach Fair, an event aimed at connecting small, minority and women-owned firms with prime companies interested in doing business with the casino. AGA officials said the outreach event augmented the message they were promoting on their tour.
“Casino gaming is a strong community partner in Maryland and across the country, where hundreds of thousands of small businesses are supported,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of AGA.

The casino gaming industry supports 350,000 small business jobs nationwide, he said, and nearly 3,000 in Maryland.

The casino industry is a $240 billion-a-year industry that supports 1.7 million jobs nationwide. In Maryland, gaming employs 11,000 people, supports $446 million in wages and generates $1.7 billion in economic impact.

Since casino gaming opened in Maryland, the state’s casinos have provided $1.8 billion to the Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports pre-K-through-12 public education, public school and higher-education construction and capital improvements projects at community colleges.

Survey Says

In an AGA report released earlier this year, the gaming industry’s Impact on Small Business Development in the United States examined nearly a dozen U.S. small gaming markets, and assessed casino gaming’s direct and indirect impact on local small businesses. Researchers from Spectrum Gaming Group concluded that gaming’s largest impacts are concentrated in small to mid-sized communities where local businesses are integrated into gaming operations.
Areas surrounding the state’s six casinos receive 50% of the Maryland Casino Business Investment Fund. In Anne Arundel County, the program has resulted in $11 million in loans, nearly 300 new jobs and $25 million in new investment since 2008.

According to Cordish Companies CEO of Resorts and Gaming Entertainment Joe Weinberg, Live! Casino employs more than 3,000 workers and is the largest taxpayer in Maryland.

“Over the last five years, we have paid about $1.4 billion in gaming taxes to the state,” he said. “$1.1 billion has gone to the education trust fund in Maryland. Just over $111 million has gone to the community in local impact grants. We’ve also paid about $1 billion in salaries and wages over the past five years.”
Investment and development continues at the casino, where a new, $200 million hotel is under construction that will deliver more than 300 rooms and suites, a large convention facility and upwards of 1,000 new jobs, as well as restaurants and a new music venue when it opens in the early part of 2018.

“We’re hoping to be able to accommodate all of our local school and college graduations that, as of now, have to go outside of the county,” Weinberg said.

Market Adaptation

Don Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, chaired the state’s Video Lottery Facilities Location Commission that evaluated and selected the location, as well as the operators, for gaming operations in Maryland; the state’s first casino opened seven years ago.

“I’ve seen the positive impact, first-hand, that the industry has had in Maryland,” Fry said. “Gaming has proven to be that catalyst for economic development, an employer for thousands [of workers] and a major source of tax revenues. We want to talk about how gaming can continue to thrive in the years ahead.”
According to Freeman, the industry’s strength lies in its ability to adapt to customer interest.

“What works for today’s customer probably won’t work for tomorrow’s customer,” he said. “The Maryland market is proven to be highly interested in table games in a way different from [markets] across the border [in surrounding states]. It’s amazing, the microclimates you get. We’ve been able to adapt very quickly, to make sure we can continue to deliver [to customer expectations].”
Gaming advocates have now cast an eye toward adding sports betting to casino markets across the country — to help legitimize and regulate the illegal betting that is already occurring — and give patrons a new experience.

“We need tax policy that encourages that, regulatory policy that embraces that, and we need to get the federal government out of the way when it comes to allowing Maryland and other states to allow sports betting, something people across this state want to do,” Freeman said.

Local Impact

Addressing the local impact from her role as chair of the Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County board, Erin McNaboe said having the casino has helped the tourism bureau with branding, as tourism evolves and visitors look for different things to do.

“There’s a wonderful synergy going on between Live! and Arundel Mills mall, which is fabulous for the tourism industry,” McNaboe said. “Being able to say we have the No. 1 Zagat-rated steakhouse, the Prime Rib, right here is a good thing.”
Lyn Hopkins, incoming president of the Assistance League of the Chesapeake, credited the casino for its support of the nonprofit’s Operation School Bell program.

“We’re smallish, and Maryland Live! has been such a valuable partner,” Hopkins said. Noting that 592 of the county’s homeless children attend elementary school, “we’ve provided 520 school uniforms for homeless children in two Title 1 elementary schools we work with, and we’ve also provided books to those two schools, Van Bokkelen and Meade Heights [elementaries, with the casino’s help].”

Edwards & Hill Office Furniture Managing Partner Tony Hill said his company continues to benefit from Live!’s proximity.

“They’ve helped us grow; we opened with seven employees and are now up to 22,” Hill said. “The longevity of the relationship is the major benefit. It helps small businesses like mine create a pipeline of business; [the casino] wasn’t just business-friendly when it first opened; we’ve consistently done business [with Live! Casino], and we’re working with them on the hotel, as well. [We’ve seen it as] an investment in the community for the long haul.”

Maryland Model

State Sen. Ed DeGrange, who represents District 32 (where Live! is located), said he saw $400 million leaving Maryland annually before the casino was built.
“The horse racing industry [was] stagnant,” he said. “We have some of the highest rents for apartments in the county here in this neighborhood. Some said it would destroy [housing] values, but values have been growing.”

“When we come into communities, there are perceptions and misperceptions,” Freeman said. “We want to shine a light on what the industry’s actually doing. The only place where our industry today faces misconceptions is in the markets in which we don’t operate.”

Maryland, he said, has been a special case.

“The level of thoughtfulness that went into where these properties are located, how they interact with the community, was [positive],” he said. “You have different types of destinations; there’s distance between them. I think the state is well on the road to maximizing the potential that the casino industry can bring. That’s something other states are looking at Maryland might just be the model.”

Kittleman, ACS Officially Open Nonprofit Collaborative

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, the Association of Community Services (ACS) and more than a dozen nonprofit agencies recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the county’s new nonprofit center. The center, called the NonProfit Collaborative of Howard County (NPC), is located at 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, in Columbia.

“We are thrilled to have this facility available to serve Howard County residents,” Kittleman said. “The center has allowed us to consolidate services, increase collaboration, improve space efficiency and enhance visibility of these organizations. It’s located on a public bus route so residents can come to a single location to access multiple services.”

The NonProfit Collaborative is the realization of a concept that has been discussed for 20 years, said ACS Executive Director Joan Driessen. Although the project came close a couple times in the past, it did not become a reality until the county committed resources to help with startup costs and to subsidize leasing costs over a 10-year period. The Association of Community Services will manage the Collaborative.

The NPC houses 14 organizations.

• Association of Community Services of Howard County

• Bridges to Housing Stability

• Camp Attaway

• Compass Inc.

• Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

• Heritage Housing Partners

• HopeWorks

• Howard County Autism Society

• Howard County Housing Commission

• Howard EcoWorks

• MakingChange

• Mediation & Conflict Resolution Center

• United Way of Central Maryland

• Volunteers of America Chesapeake

Kittleman plans to build on the concept of housing human service organizations together by creating the Howard County Community Resources Campus, relocating several county departments into the same business park. Plans are to move the county’s departments of Community Resources and Services and Housing and Community Development, as well as the Office of Human Rights and the Community Action Council of Howard County, to the campus by the end of the year.

The state’s Department of Human Resources also has committed to moving the county’s Department of Social Services from its current location in Columbia Gateway to the Community Resources Campus.

Musicians Loving Making a Living in Region’s Music Scene

 

It’s not an uncommon refrain: A local musician who’s got chops and hails from a small music market — anywhere but New York, Los Angeles, Nashville or Austin — wants to move to make more contacts.

So move on up s/he does, to one of the aforementioned cities, in order to make it large, become famous, own the charts, sell out and live the life.

But what if you’re from the Baltimore-Washington region?

Some of that good stuff, area musicians say, is available here, as is a little more normal existence. They can still hone their craft, record music, sell CDs, play live, make decent money — and sleep in their own bed.

In fact, many of the region’s artists feel like the constant influx into those major music markets only increases competition, which decreases the odds of “making it” and even the ability to earn a living.

Mapping It Out

Naked Blue, the husband-wife duo of Jen and Scott Smith, said the music scene in the Baltimore-Washington area is so active that it spurred them to quit their day jobs in 1991 and immerse themselves in their music.

“We considered moving to Nashville or New York, but came to realize that this is one of the few regions where you can make your living as a musician,” said Jen Scott. “You can’t do it in L.A., because it’s an industry hub and [artists] who live and work there are willing to pay a club owner or an artist to play for exposure, in hopes that the right person sees them. The venues have artists banging on their doors.”

And that’s the deal in the larger music markets. “Around here, we have ample opportunities to make money,” Scott Smith said, ranging from house concerts to small clubs to festivals to outdoor concert series. “Depending on the season, we can pack 10 shows in eight days.”

That can mean a show at the Columbia Lakefront or a gig at Quiet Waters Park, in Annapolis, or at Catonsville’s Lurman Woodland Theatre. And, depending on the size of one’s radar screen, the major cities that are within a few hours’ drive, such as Richmond, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Pittsburgh, present more opportunity.

Naked Blue not only performs (and has opened for such major acts as Foreigner, Joe Cocker and John Mayer), but the Scotts also have an in-house studio, where the duo has produced acts like neo soul artist Eric Scott, roots Americana artist Tony Denikos and pop singer Lucia Valentine.

Do It Here

It’s hard to discuss the Corridor music scene without talking with keyboardist Deanna Bogart, who moved to Southern California in 2013, but lived in Western Howard County for 37 years and returns often. Interestingly, she didn’t move to Southern California to benefit her career and was on the road more than she was home, but agreed that “there is more work here [in Maryland]because there [is less] competition, despite the winter weather challenges.”

So, like the Scotts, she’s grateful that her career “happened” in a locale with solid access to the rest of the Eastern Seaboard.

“This was, and still is, one of those lucky areas where you can work,” Bogart said, noting the house concerts, corporate events, restaurant and festivals, as well as the Columbia Lakefront and even the heights of Merriweather. “It’s a neighborhood-esque state, and building relationships here can end up really working for you.”

On that note, she pointed to the relationship of I.M.P’s Seth Hurwitz, the promoter for Merriweather, and rock star (and area native) Dave Grohl. Hurwitz met the then-teenaged Grohl at the original 9:30 Club, in Washington, D.C., more than 30 years ago; Grohl eventually became the drummer for Nirvana, and for the past two decades has fronted the Foo Fighters.

That eventually resulted in, among other things, the Foo Fighters headlining their 20th Anniversary concert at Washington’s RFK Stadium in 2015; this fall, the Foos will open I.M.P.’s new, 6,000-seat venue, The Anthem, on D.C.’s Waterfront.

While Bogart has played plenty of major halls, many locals will recall her long-time gig at Columbia’s Last Chance Saloon, “on the last Saturday of every month,” from 1987–95. In fact, she once opened for the Moody Blues at Merriweather, then dashed to the Last Chance for a second gig that night.

Route 95 Circuit

Singer/guitarist Patty Reese is another local artist who has spent plenty of time cruising Route 95 who feels there’s plenty of work here. “I can play solo or with a band, anything from big festivals to house concerts, which is like a whole submarket,” she said. “Some of the hosts even have a sound system.

“It’s easier getting paid gigs in the area, especially when you have a reputation here,” Reese said, noting events from the Chesapeake Bay Blues Fest to Columbia Festival of the Arts to Wine in the Woods. “If you hustle, you can make good money.”

One city where even hustling might not help much, she said, is New York. “There are people who do well there, like Dan Hovey, but he’s a union guy who works on Broadway shows” and also teaches at Montgomery College.

Reese also noted that, while a solid income is attainable, “it would be hard to have a house and raise our family on what I make. My husband has a good job.”
“Hurricane Kevin” Lebling can be said to work in a submarket of the region, as he mostly sticks to gigs in and around Annapolis and the Eastern Shore, with the occasional gig in D.C., “though that can be tough,” he said, “because you can get a ticket for parking in front of the venue while you’re unloading.”

While Lebling (who used to videotape Bogart’s shows 30 years ago) is in his busy season in the state capital, he is among the artists who have kept their day job. “I’ve got five regular gigs, on average, every week this summer,” he said, “and I also work soundboards.”

Also know that it’s a nice feeling to know what you’re getting paid. “You hear a lot of the staff at bars complaining about their tips,” he said, “but hopefully, my playing a gig will equate to a better night for the bartenders and wait staff.”

Community Values

While the market is healthy, it still doesn’t equate to what it used to be. Reese said that could be because of this age of distraction.

“I used to have house gigs at certain establishments in the area every week with my band,” she said. “Now I do solo gigs, but I think people don’t go out as much anymore.

“I think [that’s to do with] the Internet and access to so much distraction in the media. Before, we had FM radio and went to concerts,” Reese said. “Think about what the music scene in Georgetown area used to be like, with The Bayou, The Cellar Door, Desperados, The Crazy Horse, The Psyche Delly, Mr. Henry’s,” etc. “They all had bands virtually every night.”

Still, the beat, and the strum, go on.

Jen Scott offered another indicator of the happening scene.

“My voice coach, Pete Strobl, lives in L.A., and has a studio there. I’ve been bringing him to Maryland to do workshops a couple of times a year, and now he and his wife are moving to Baltimore because he likes working here,” she said.
It sounds like Strobl gets it about, as Quincy Jones famously said, leaving one’s ego “at the door.”

“Pete said, in L.A., everybody wants to be a star. But here, everybody wants to work hard and be good at what they do,” Jen Scott said, “so I wonder sometimes if we’re not right at the center of the industry. Here, it’s less competitive, and we have an atmosphere that fosters more collaboration and community.”

USRA Acquires Nonprofit STEMaction

 

The Columbia-based Universities Space Research Association (USRA) has announced the integration of the nonprofit STEMaction Inc., of Glenwood, into its operations. Thus, the newly-created USRA STEMaction Center will amalgamate several programs under its umbrella, including programs that were previously under STEMaction.

With the acquisition, USRA has expanded its range of activities to help develop the next-generation science and technology workforce through K–12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

“We are committed to growing USRA’s role as an innovation hub, hosting an expanding array of inspiring and accessible STEM workforce development programs,” said USRA President and CEO Jeff Isaacson. “By building on the great successes of STEMaction and its many dedicated volunteers, USRA hopes to foster a thriving technical workforce for our region and country.”

Founded by Bill Duncan in 2009, the STEMaction program has been an important partner for the Maryland FIRST program, which operates events and competitions in four robotic program tracks serving the K–12 student community: the FIRST Robotics Competition, the FIRST Tech Challenge, the FIRST LEGO League and the Junior FIRST LEGO League.

Under Duncan’s guiding hand, the STEMaction program grew to include more than 700 FIRST teams across Maryland, reaching more than 6,000 students and incorporating more than 2,000 mentors. In Howard County alone, more than 1,000 students were involved, with more than 120 teams fielded by public and private schools, clubs, neighborhood groups and home schools.

Continuing Legacy

Since 1969, STEM activities have been a part of USRA’s mission. In addition to advancing space and aeronautics-related sciences and exploration through innovative research and development, USRA has also offered a range of learning opportunities for students, educators and the general public, and has recently ushered in new education programs focused on K–12 learning.

The incorporation of STEMaction is not only a perfect fit, it’s also the fulfillment of Duncan’s desire to hand off the program he built to a partner willing to advance its mission.

“For me, it was a combination of succession and putting these programs on a platform that could provide a more stable growth path for the future,” said Duncan. “I plan to stay involved with STEMaction in a senior adviser capacity, but my intention is to wind down my level of active involvement.”

By all indications the level of involvement is demanding. “The number of students we serve has more than doubled over the last five years,” Duncan said, leading to the establishment of the Maryland STEM Festival, which celebrates its third anniversary in November.

“We also launched the inaugural Maryland Tech Invitational, which took place on June 24 and 25,” he said, a new off-season robotics tournament. “It brings together the best teams from across the country to compete in a showdown after the season has ended.”

The inaugural competition, hosted by The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, drew teams from 10 different states and a dozen from across Maryland.

Beneficial Partner

USRA’s involvement with STEMaction began in 2016 when Leadership Howard County President and CEO Stacie Hunt introduced USRA’s Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Development Vince DeFrancisci (Class of 2016) to Duncan.

“STEMaction was looking for a home for kids to build, practice and prepare for competitions,” DeFrancisci said, which led to the dedication of an 18,000-square-foot facility on USRA property for that purpose.

Now renamed the USRA STEMaction Center, the facility houses four practice areas and includes a large robotics practice field that is on loan from the NASA Robotics Alliance Project.

“The result is that STEMaction will dissolve its status as a 501(c)(3) organization, and USRA will assume all responsibility for its programs,” DeFrancisci said. “We are now affiliates in Maryland for the FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Lego League Junior Program.”

USRA will continue to offer robotics programs at the center.
“One of our goals is to build a concept called The Garage,” DeFrancisci said, a combination machine shop and design space where middle school and high school students can do hands-on work designing objects like CubeSats, drones and other trendy technologies that have captured the imaginations of young inventors and innovators. “They will have the chance to work on the fabrication right here.”

USRA’s involvement will also free up STEMaction’s volunteers from their side roles as fiscal agents, which required them to pursue sponsorships and donations as well as make payments to support the program.

Expanding Scope

Looking ahead, DeFrancisci said USRA is looking to expand into other programs beyond those STEMaction is currently involved in.

“We could look into expanding in the District of Columbia or Virginia, and perhaps other states, three-to-five years down the road,” he said. “Right now, our strategic plan is to get the right resources and reach out to underserved areas, like Baltimore City, in the hope of attracting inner city students who don’t have the same opportunities to pursue these STEM interests as students in Howard County.”

The exact details are still a work in progress, but could take the form of multi-day camps, provided organizers find a way to iron out the challenges tied to transporting and feeding participants.

“We’d ultimately like to develop a four-to-six-week summer program around the robotics program that would take place in The Garage after we get it built,” DeFrancisci said.

One of the biggest keys to continued program success is securing the support of passionate volunteers, which hasn’t been difficult in a tech-saturated environment.

“Over the last year, I’ve worked with about 1,600 event volunteers, not including mentors, for the four different programs,” said STEMaction Volunteer Director Jenny Beatty. “That’s about 800 volunteers who are working with the 20 or so teams involved with the two different programs sponsored here at USRA.”
Those volunteers helped provide support at more than 50 events this year for both technical and non-engineering support, including program management, fundraising and making elevator pitches to potential donors and sponsors.
“We’ve received solid support from the Howard County Economic Development Authority, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and even people from the Goddard Space Flight Center,” Beatty said.

“We are excited to play a part in educating our community’s young people and to further Maryland’s attractiveness for innovation and future leadership in STEM,” DeFrancisci said.

“We’re extremely pleased that this integration is happening,” said Duncan. “I’m looking forward to the great things that I know will be coming out of this decision in the years to come.”

Biz Roundup

DOC Approves RISE Zone Around bwtech@UMBC
The Maryland Department of Commerce has approved a Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone, or RISE Zone, around the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s research and technology park, known as bwtech@UMBC. The new zone will help enhance bwtech’s mission to support established companies, provide incubator and accelerator services to emerging companies, and help university researchers commercialize their work.
UMBC hopes to use the five-year designation to support adding 100,000 square feet of space to lease to technology-related businesses, a project the university expects will create approximately 250 high tech and cybersecurity jobs. The new development will take two to five years to complete and result in a capital investment of up to $20 million.
“UMBC has grown into a major research university over the past 50 years. During that time, bwtech@UMBC has become UMBC’s primary means of encouraging business development and a critical asset in the university’s technology commercialization efforts,” said Freeman Hrabowski, president of UMBC. “A RISE Zone designation will allow us to continue to attract partners to assist with additional research park development.”
The UMBC Rise Zone covers 71 acres and includes the two parcels that make up bwtech@UMBC. The research park, which is the university’s primary vehicle for business development, currently leases 525,000 square feet of space to 125 businesses, most of which are in the technology sector and employ roughly 1,450 people. The RISE Zone designation lasts for five years.

New Hub for Science Education, Research Opens at Bowie State
Bowie State University has opened a new Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing, designed to promote innovation in collaborative teaching and research, featuring one of the nation’s largest installations of dynamic glass that tints on-demand to create an energy-efficient learning environment.
The $102 million, 149,000-square-foot center incorporates high-performance, sustainable design aimed at achieving LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The center represents the university’s new approach to the instruction of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), replacing the outdated Crawford Science Building.
Some distinctive elements include portions of the exterior façade and the entire three-story cylindrical, multi-purpose space, called The Beacon, that features 25,000 square feet of dynamic glass, which tints on-demand to provide unobstructed access to outdoor views and significantly lower heating and cooling costs over time; and one of the nation’s most state-of-the-art nursing simulation centers that reflects the latest thinking in nursing education. It uses lifelike computerized mannequins that simulate patients in hospital and clinical settings.
It also incorporates a fully-enclosed greenhouse that will enable students and faculty working on plant sciences research to remain integrated with other science disciplines in the building.

TEDCO Announces New $300K Incubation Challenge
TEDCO has announced its request for proposals for the creation of innovative strategies that demonstrate advancement in the state-of-the-art of business incubation. TEDCO will allocate $300,000 in non-reimbursable grant funding to the Incubation Challenge and will make up to two awards, depending on the quality of proposals submitted.
“There is a shared sense that, as time goes on, our state’s startup companies must continually ‘raise their game’ in order to compete successfully for talent, customers, investment and visibility,” said John Wasilisin, TEDCO president and chief operating officer.
“As such, all of the organizations incubating Maryland’s startup companies must, in turn, continually innovate and improve in order to provide the needed assistance. The opportunity exists for TEDCO to leverage its leadership role within the innovation ecosystem and its financial resources to stimulate innovation within this community of organizations and individuals dedicated to supporting the state’s entrepreneurs,” Wasilisin said.
Incubation Challenge proposals are due July 31; and the request for proposal details can be found at http://tedco.md/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TEDCO-Incubation-Challenge_RFP_05-22-17.pdf. For more information, contact Neil Davis, TEDCO’s director of entrepreneurial development, at ndavis@tedco.md.

Schuh to Include Funding to Kick Off GDP in Supplemental Budget
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has announced that his proposed 2017 supplemental budget plan includes funding to accelerate the General Development Plan (GDP) in response to community concerns across the county.
Since last winter, the Department of Planning and Zoning has been developing a comprehensive transportation master plan for the county, the first step in the GDP. The $50,000 in funding proposed by the county executive would be earmarked for public input and planning in advance of the master plan.
As a charter county, Anne Arundel County is granted planning and zoning powers. The Anne Arundel County Code designates the Office of Planning and Zoning to prepare and periodically update a comprehensive plan to guide growth and development.
The county executive’s supplemental budget plan was submitted to the County Council on June 9.

CGC Holdings Expands in Howard County, Plans to Add 125 Jobs
CGC Holdings, a food distribution company in Jessup, recently completed construction and has moved into a new, 160,000-square-foot building in Howard County. Located at 7540 Assateague Drive, the new facility contains the company’s headquarters and warehouse and distribution operations. CGC Holdings currently has 225 full-time employees and anticipates adding an additional 125 new jobs during the next four years.
“Our new building is state-of-the-art and triple the size of our former facility, and it enables us to better serve our customers with the freshest produce and seafood in the area,” said John Cefalu, CEO of CGC Holdings. “We have expanded our fresh cut produce and fresh fish lines, and have room for more growth.”
CGC Holdings is the parent company of two related family businesses, G. Cefalu & Bro. and Capital Seaboard. The two companies first came together 12 years ago, and in 2012, they formed CGC Holdings to formalize the joining of the two businesses.
To assist with project costs, the Maryland Department of Commerce has approved a $150,000 conditional loan through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF). The company is also eligible for various state and local tax credits, including Maryland’s Job Creation Tax Credit.

Fitch, Moody’s Rate Annapolis, S&P Forthcoming
The city of Annapolis maintained its AA+ rating from the Fitch Rating Agency, and its outlook remains stable. In addition, Fitch affirmed the following ratings: approximately $75 million outstanding city GO bonds at AA+; the Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at AA+. Fitch affirmed the AA+ rating and outlook as stable.
Fitch wrote, “The city’s strong financial profile reflects positive revenue growth prospects from an improving property tax base, manageable expenditure growth and a demonstrated ability to reduce expenditures during economic downturns.”
Also, Moody’s Investors Service has assigned an Aa2 positive rating to Annapolis’s $6.1 million General Obligation Public Improvements Refunding Bonds Series 2016A and $19.6 million General Obligation Public Improvements Taxable Refunding Bonds Series 2016B. Concurrently, Moody’s maintains the Aa2 positive rating on the city’s $144 million of General Obligation debt outstanding.
According to Moody’s, “The Aa2 reflects the city’s recently improved financial position supported by proactive management and conservative budgeting despite a planned reduction in reserves. The rating also reflects the city’s sizable and diverse tax base with institutional presence, above average demographic profile, and manageable debt burden.”
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating of the city’s financial performance is expected to be released shortly.

Kittleman Files Bills to Amend the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman pre-filed two bills with the County Council that would change the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), a move based on recommendations from a 23-member APFO Review Task Force. “This has been a deliberate and steady process, because we want to make sure we get it right,” he said. “These amendments will allow for better management of the process, ensuring growth doesn’t outpace infrastructure.”
The legislation would amend the county’s general plan — PlanHoward 2030 — and also the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Act, which is part of the Howard County Code. The goal is to coordinate residential and commercial growth with existing and future infrastructure needs. One change would eliminate the ability to share housing allocations across growth areas and would adjust the number of allocations in each area to increase predictability and better account for housing demand.
Other changes would include specifying completion timelines for certain types of road remediation projects; renaming the school system’s Open/Closed Chart to the School Capacity Chart; requiring a review committee to convene at the conclusion of each General Plan cycle (every 10 years) at a minimum; exempting Moderate Income Housing Units (MIHU) from the allocations test; and specifying developer wait times for allocations and schools’ tests.
From 1995 to 2015, the number of households in Howard County increased from 79,260 to 110,370. The Howard County Public School System reported student population grew from 37,547 to 54,134 during the same timeframe. To review the legislation, visit http://cc.howardcountymd.gov; to view the full report of the APFO Task Force, go to www.howardcountymd.gov/Branches/County-Executive/Adequate-Public-Facilities-report-2015.

Manufacturing Report: Maryland’s Grade Drops for Global Positioning
Maryland’s grades for global positioning dropped from “D” to “D-” in the latest manufacturing and logistics report from Ball State University. The state’s grades remained the same in the other categories: manufacturing, “D”; logistics, “D”; human capital, “C”; benefits costs, “C”; productivity and innovation, “C”; tax climate, “C-”; diversification, “C-”; and expected fiscal liability gap “C.”
The “2017 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card,” prepared by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) for Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing initiative, shows how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics.
CBER Director Michael Hicks, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business Research, also explains why U.S. manufacturing and logistics industries experienced dramatic growth during the past generation with his report, “Manufacturing and Logistics: A Generation of Volatility & Growth.”
The study found that U.S. manufacturing production grew 11% since the dot.com bust (2000–03) and the ensuing economic turbulence of the 2001 and 2007–09 recessions. The report is now in its 10th year.
“According to folklore, this has been a terrible generation for manufacturing and those who move goods,” Hicks said. “That isn’t really what the data says. Indeed, 2015 was a record manufacturing production year in inflation-adjusted dollars. While 2016 fell just short with some weakness in the first and second quarter, 2017 looks to be a new record year.”

Q&A With TEDCO CEO George Davis

George Davis is known for his investing skills, as well as building and managing biotech, information technology and software companies, often from the startup stage, is the new CEO of the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO). He joins the organization after most recently serving as a partner in Gamma3, a Maryland-based investment platform, which provides early-stage financing to locally-based startups.

Under Davis’s guidance, Gamma3 invested in several Maryland-based portfolio companies that cover a broad spectrum of life science and cybersecurity opportunities. He also served as the CEO of one of Gamma3’s portfolio companies, Gemstone Biotherapeutics, which develops evidenced-based wound care solutions.

With more than 30 years of management experience, and having served in various C-level positions, Davis offers a range of experience and business acumen. During his career, he has helped secure more than $1.5 billion in capital for several technology sector companies, including leading several public offerings.

From 1996 to 2003, he served as the president and vice chairman of Aether Systems, where he significantly grew the company and led its public offering; in 2006, he became CEO of Avatech Solutions, where he led the merger of the company with Rand Worldwide in 2010 and doubled the size of the business.
Previously, Davis was a director of enterprise management systems at Westinghouse Electric Corp., now Northrop Grumman Corp. Davis received a B.S. in Business and Economics form Bethany College where he currently serves as a trustee emeritus.

What attracted you to this job?

Throughout my career and specifically during the past several years, I’ve been fortunate to be involved in early stage ventures, on the investor side and the operations sides. This gives me a unique perspective on early-stage companies and affords me the ability to help entrepreneurs as they grow.

I’ve found that I enjoy working with young entrepreneurs and helping to turn their ideas into reality, because the ideas can lead to such extraordinary things. When I became aware of the opportunity at TEDCO, an organization whose mission is to help entrepreneurs, I thought that it was a perfect fit. Its platform provides the opportunity for me to leverage and share my experience and passion with the entire Maryland innovation ecosystem.

What is TEDCO’s financial state at present?

I have taken a quick glance at the finances. John Wasilisin, TEDCO’s president and chief operating officer, has been rock solid running the operation. Our annual budget is about $19 million, and that appropriation has remained consistent during the past several years.

We will be receiving $1 million for a Gap Investment Fund from Gov. [Larry] Hogan and the legislature that we will be working into our budget. TEDCO has also received more than $5 million in federal funds during the past several years. These funds have all been used to grow small businesses through programs like the N-Step program, which supports the efforts of post-docs starting companies out of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and the mdPACE program, which helps medical device companies more efficiently navigate the 510(k) regulatory pathway of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And around the end of 2015, TEDCO took over the Maryland Venture Fund, which broadened our offerings. With more than $100 million under management, this fund gave us the ability to make later-stage investments. Through its various programs, TEDCO can now offer funding from proof-of-concept to Series A stage investments. That’s a real value add to TEDCO and to the state.

What will we see new from TEDCO in the next year?

I want to take what TEDCO is doing and simply do it bigger and better, thus expanding our footprint utilizing current and new support tools. We need to be there for businesses, even if we don’t give them money. We want to find winners and propel them to greater things. Nothing spurs new jobs and economic growth like new businesses.

We also want — and this is important — to hone our focus on minority and women-owned businesses. We have to find ways to better engage and support these communities. TEDCO has recently made strides in the African-American community in response to a number of focus groups. One outcome of these discussions was the Minority Business Pre-Seed Fund. This program, in partnership with Harbor Bank, is addressing one of the critical needs identified in the focus groups. The program just launched and had an overwhelming response.

How many companies have been advanced with help from TEDCO in the last year?

It is difficult to put a number on all of the companies that are advanced by TEDCO. We help companies in many ways — like through the informal mentoring that our staff provides, the formal funding and entrepreneurial support programs that we offer, to the various events that we host and support throughout the Maryland entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is easier to describe the impact of some of our funding programs.

For example, TEDCO allocated $6.5 million in fiscal 2017 for its seed investment programs, which supported more than 60 companies and helped them advance the commercialization of their products. In addition, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund made 29 investments totaling more than $8.5 million for research, product development and clinical trials; $2.7 million of this fund was allocated to six businesses. The remaining funds were directed to developing stem cell technologies that show promise for future products and treatments for patients.

The Maryland Venture Fund made 17 investments totaling more than $9 million in 13 companies in fiscal 2017. And this just describes some of our programs.

What do you see as TEDCO’s greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge is finding the resources to support the overwhelming needs of the innovation community. I meet people every day who are excited about their ideas, but they know that their ideas don’t mean anything unless they have the resources needed to be successful, whether those resources are cash, mentoring, market analysis or something else.

So, our challenge is to scale up the resources that we can provide to meet the insatiable needs of the entrepreneurs in our region.

What do you see as TEDCO’s greatest asset?

Its people. The TEDCO staff is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs, and John has done a wonderful job during the past years recruiting personnel and fostering a good culture within the organization. Because of their passion, the staff is open to new ideas and willing to be guided to greater things. So, we’ll set the bar higher and look to hit it.

I love the quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” because it’s true. We have a strong organizational culture and a solid reputation for delivering quality support to the entrepreneurial community, which has been developed over almost two decades.

In a Q&A with The Business Monthly in March 2015, Norm Augustine [who chaired the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, commonly known as the Augustine Commission] said, “Today, 72% of all of the nation’s venture capital goes to three states: California, Massachusetts and Texas. Too often, people get ideas for businesses here in Maryland but go to another state to start a company. We have to change that.” How can we?

Investors will go where they can find good deals to make money for their limited partners. To bring more venture capital money to Maryland, we need to do two things: First, we need to create more deals that are appealing to investors. As we work to raise the bar on the quality of the companies that exist in Maryland, more investors will take notice. Second, we need to talk about our successes. The dirty little secret about investing in the three states that you mention is that deals are competitive and often overvalued.

We need to show investors across the nation that Maryland has a lot of promising investment opportunities, many supported by TEDCO, with good valuations from the investor’s perspective. This effort needs to be promoted by all organizations in the state, including the Governor’s Office, the Department of Commerce, the press and industry. Maryland is an undiscovered territory with a wealth of opportunity; we just need investors across the country to recognize that.

What can be done to expedite the process of technology transfer?

Technology transfer in Maryland has had a challenging history. I can’t identify any other region in the country that commands the level of research that flows on a yearly basis through our state. And while the discovery of new and excit

ing technologies in life science and various information technologies is of the highest pedigree, the track record and pace of commercialization remains behind other similar ecosystems. We need to work with all the relevant constituencies, including the research institutions, the private sector and all of the state and private support agencies, to find common ground, break down old barriers and help move technology transfer to the level we can all be proud of. I have engaged in the process, and I can tell you that it is complicated.

The way to expedite the improvement process is through education and relationship building. I am seeing, in real-time, many promising changes in Maryland’s universities. The technology transfer offices are becoming more entrepreneurial, developing incubator programs and funding programs to support their startups. TEDCO is also doing its part through the Maryland Innovation Initiative program, which provides funding to support technology transfer activities.

What is your take on the recent merger that’s resulted in the new Maryland Technology Council?

I have never been an intimate member of the prior organizations, but I was so happy that they merged. This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The new organization brings more industry together to better share resources and to stand with a stronger voice.

That being said, I believe that the smaller regional groups are still valuable, too. They connect to the bigger organizations, especially those in the rural areas of the state.

What needs to be done to heighten Maryland’s national and international profile to peak efficiency?

We need to promote our success stories and better talk about the various resources that we have in our state that led to those successes. I think that we also need to make better connections between the innovative companies that are forming around technologies created in our state and funded by organizations like TEDCO and others in the region, and the large national and international companies that need innovation to be competitive in today’s world markets.
In short, we have to build an avenue to connect everyone involved in the ecosystems, and then try to work everyone into a common culture. We all desire the same outcome. Now, we need to put it in a bucket and get it done.

Town Grill at Foster’s Country Store: It’s Community ’Round the Table

 

Little did Howard Lasky know that Town Grill’s new location at Foster’s Country Store would be an instant hit among the community.

But for the local community starving for a local place to eat — and a local gathering spot at the corner of Triadelphia and Frederick roads — it means everything. The barbecue and smokehouse restaurant is now centrally located, close to mile marker 17 on a nearly five-mile stretch of the Historic National Road, Route 144, between routes 40 and 32.

For a number of years, the surrounding community of more than 1,000 households has yearned for a restaurant in the location known for many years as Foster’s Country Store.

“The Town Grill has always been a great place to go,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, as he presented a certificate of appreciation to Lasky. “Now, [it’s in an even] better location,” he noted as he drives by a restaurant that’s always full of people.

Kittleman and a host of others from the local community — including representatives from Howard County Economic Development Authority and Visit Howard County — dropped by the new location on June 21 to cut the ribbon and kick off the coming Saturday’s grand opening celebration, “Blues, Beverages & Blues,” featuring The Deanna Bogart Band.

Community Attraction

The Town Grill has always been a gathering place, according to Lasky, who with his wife Susan, started the restaurant in the back of a Lisbon gas station in 2007.
For 10 years, “It was a place that the community could come for some pretty good food,” said Lasky. “But, it quickly became more than that. It was a place where farmers could gather to talk about what crops they’re growing or who has the fastest horses. It was a place where people could gather to solve the problems of the world, you could just come for breakfast and join in on the conversation.”

Fostering Community

“I love the tagline — ‘Fostering Community Around the Table’ — and how it ties into the original name,” said Howard County Councilman Greg Fox. “For me, anytime we have an expanding business, it’s a great thing; if it’s food, it’s even better.”

That tagline is exactly what the Town Grill is all about. “A neighborhood is known by the people who live in it,” said Lasky. “A community is a group of people that have that common cultural experience and a little bit of historical heritage.”

In addition to the food, the patrons take time to enjoy that historic community connection within the new location. They take in the local lore from the historic photos, many showing locals from long ago and more, walls decorated with artifacts.

Lasky hopes to soon expand the restaurant with some additional outdoor seating and “Foster’s Park” on two acres of green space to provide a place the community can enjoy and where local events can take place.

Finding Town Grill

Whether you’re a local, a cyclist or a passerby, you’ll love the taste of the “best local barbecue” at Town Grill. A welcoming weigh station with a casual atmosphere, the restaurant offers with a robust menu including barbecue, smokehouse meats, specialty items and big country breakfasts. Open for daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Town Grill at Foster’s Country Store is located next to the Pink Cabbage at 11707 Frederick Road, on the western edge of Ellicott City. For more information, visit www.TownGrillFosters.com.

Cyber Conference Highlights Insider Threats, Innovation

 

Part networking event, part industry update and part educational seminar, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) eighthth annual Cybersecurity Conference provided a full day of programming targeting industry professionals throughout the region in June.

Held at Howard Community College and presented by HCCC’s GovConnects program, this year’s Cyber 8 event attracted hundreds of participants ranging from small- and mid-sized business owners and employees to investors, as well as state and local government personnel and office holders.

Conference topics included the role of government and academia in innovation, health data security, the insider threat and questions surrounding funding growth, mergers and acquisitions.

Cyber encompasses a wide spectrum of fields and operations that’s hard to define, and threats that are increasingly more difficult to contain. Leidos Deputy Operations Manager Jack Terry briefed attendees on the most prevalent trends that defenders are following.

“We’re seeing a significant change in the sophistication of ransomware,” he said. “It’s open season on the Internet of Things (IoT), often affected by ransomware attacks. Mobile security threats are everywhere and connected to your corporate networks.”

Political hacking has gone mainstream, he said, with a wide-open profile that can include everybody from disgruntled employees to politically motivated “hack-tivists” who disseminate classified and proprietary data to promote causes or advance an agenda, á là the recent Reality Winner.

“In the travels I make within the cyber community, insider threat is, without question, one of the top two or three topics on everybody’s mind,” said Cyber Conference Chair Mike Cameron, director of cybersolutions for Noblis-NSP, in Annapolis Junction.

Future, Fast-Tracked

As the business and government worlds continue to automate, planners need to consider strategies to transform the workforce and prepare for an inevitable time within the next decade when the skills in use today are no longer in vogue.
“We have to think about what we do with unemployment in that regard,” said Curtis Dukes, executive vice president of the CIS Security Best Practices Automation Group. “[We’re] talking about potentially up to 47% to 53% of current jobs that will no longer be needed. That’s what happens with innovation.”

Disruptive technology is becoming more prevalent, he said, evidenced by the transformation of the car hire service by companies like Lyft and Uber, and information technology (IT) trajectories that are tied to smaller, ever more powerful devices and the, at times, perplexing desire of innovators to network even simple household appliances to the Internet.

“With IoT, everything is an agent,” Dukes said. “Everything is collecting telemetry and looking for a way to feed that telemetry out.”

As for predictions and consequences, “Big data is only going to get bigger, and digital transformation accelerates,” he said. “Mobility will continue to dominate, and crypto-currencies will increase [in acceptance] as a form of currency. I believe crypto-currency is going to transform the world and the marketplace.”
They payoff, Dukes suggested, will come in the form of knowledge and increased liberation from the office environment.

“Space exploration will become increasingly affordable, finance will be more automated, the need for small brick-and-mortar bank [branches] will go away and a highly-skilled workforce can work from anywhere,” Dukes said. “The need for going into an office? Those days are past. I’m actually more productive today.”

Enemy Within

Hackers come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, but in the eyes of Jason Taule, chief security officer for Columbia-based FEi Systems, all cyberthreats are ultimately insider threats.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen some random account that didn’t belong to anybody in my company that an outsider had created,” Taule said. “They are compromising insider accounts. It’s both someone on the inside misusing their privilege, or someone on the outside compromising that insider’s privileges to do something inappropriate.”

Limiting access to certain types of data exclusively to those who need and use it is one way to keep a tighter rein on security, said Ananta Hejeebu, managing partner of Howard Tech Advisors. He observed that some companies also disable USB ports and go so far as to block personal webmail on their networks, as well as all websites extraneous to those absolutely necessary for work being done.
Even so, it’s not just employees that a company may have to worry about.

“It’s also temps, contractors and support staff from your vendors when you give them remote access to your systems,” said Kaizen Approach CTO Melissa McCoy.

Ounce of Prevention

Despite a mandate from the Defense Security Service for all government contractors with Facility Security Clearance to establish insider threat monitoring and mitigation programs by Nov. 30, many have yet to comply.
Part of the difficulty, according to Leidos Cybersecurity Program Manager Robert Smith, is that companies with a global presence must take the privacy concerns and foreign laws of their host countries into consideration.

“There is currently an expansion underway as to what constitutes protected information in the U.K.,” said Innoplex IT Manager Jennifer Scanlon.

As Smith pointed out, the system implemented by Leidos can identify employees who access information they’re not supposed to see, and can flag high-risk individuals based on behavioral traits, personnel profiles and financial record checks.

“Before we implemented our program, security was its own silo,” said Scanlon, who stressed the importance of a group effort to identify potential problems that could stem from crippling medical bills, mental health or behavioral issues before they become reportable situations.

Helping someone negotiate a second mortgage would be preferable to having an employee who feels his or her only way out is to sell secrets, said National Security Consultant Mary Griggs.

Losing an employee “is a huge deal for a small company,” said Scanlon. “In the end, they may not be able to restaff.”

Considering the overall implications of the insider threat and the evolving cybersecurity threat from outside agents, Dukes said he believes there’s room for improvement in policy approach.

“I think in this country there’s an imbalance in what we spend on offensive weapons as opposed to what we spend on defensive weapons,” he said. “We shouldn’t think about innovation if we don’t also think about it from a security context. We’re going to make the same mistakes that we made 10 years ago right now with IoT, not thinking about baking in security at the very beginning.”
The technology revolution “has really transformed us as individuals,” Dukes said. “We’re so much more efficient, our lives are so much more pleasing, but I don’t think we’ve factored in the security aspect.”

Arundel Council Approves Fiscal 2018 Budget

The Anne Arundel County Council has approved County Executive Steve Schuh’s fiscal 2018 budget plan. The budget accelerates Schuh’s five-point strategic plan for a stronger Anne Arundel County.

• Reducing Taxes and Fees: The Schuh administration has enacted more than $64 million in tax and fee relief. The fiscal 2018 budget continues this initiative by eliminating two taxes: the nearly $1 per person movie tax and the $300 per year mobile home tax.

• Strengthening Education: The budget includes a $15.6 million teacher salary step increase and the largest school construction effort in county history, including construction money for Crofton High School.

• Investing in Public Safety: The budget includes funding for 40 new public safety personnel and construction funds for the new police academy and central booking facility.

• Reforming County Government: All background checks will be centralized so that various county front-line departments, particularly public safety, are not distracted from their primary missions.

• Improving the Overall Quality of Life: The budget includes more than $233 million over six years to improve county waterways, $36 million to fully connect the system of bike trails and funding to open two new boat ramps this year, in Shady Side and in Solley Cove.
The budget went into effect July 1.

Linwood Center Holds Unveiling Reception With First Lady Hogan

Linwood Center held an unveiling reception and plaque dedication on June 12 in honor of its new sister school relationship with the Daniel School, in South Korea. To mark this new relationship, the Daniel School and Linwood School received a donation of matching sculptures made by artists Thomas Clement and Wonsook Kim.

The sculpture, called “Hyunsu’s Butterfly,” depicts a young boy holding a butterfly and was inspired by the story of a boy from South Korea with disabilities who was adopted by an American family. As a native-born Korean adopted by an American family himself, Clement felt a connection to this story and designed the sculpture with a vision of using it to connect two schools serving students with disabilities in South Korea and America.

The new relationship between Linwood School and the Daniel School was introduced and facilitated by Maryland’s First Lady Yumi Hogan in coordination with Secretary Carol Beatty from the Maryland Department of Disabilities.

Hogan and Beatty felt that Linwood School would be the perfect fit for this new partnership, given the organization’s long history of supporting students on the autism spectrum. Linwood Center provides comprehensive programs and services for children and adults with autism and related developmental disabilities.

“The possibilities for this new relationship are endless. The opportunity to provide a concrete way to learn about the wider world through real-life experiences is invaluable for our students. And the chance for our teachers to share best practices with a similar school across the world is really exciting,” said Linwood Center Executive Director Bill Moss. “We are very grateful to both Mrs. Hogan and Secretary Beatty for creating this connection which we hope will continue for years to come and benefit our current and future students.”
The sculpture at Linwood was installed in a small garden with the assistance of donations from the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, Walnut Springs Nursery and the Hogan family.

Hogan Previews 2018 Campaign

In the same BWI Airport Marriott ballroom a week apart in June, Gov. Larry Hogan gave speeches that were a preview of his reelection campaign next year.
First, Hogan touted his record to a packed house of close to 700 businesspeople for the annual luncheon of Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG), a group headed by Columbia marketing guru Duane Carey. The following week, Hogan addressed the not-quite-so-packed annual Red, White & Blue dinner for the state Republican Party (an event he has skipped a couple of times).

Democrats and pundits would argue that Hogan has actually been running for reelection for many months, with every public step calculated with an eye to 2018. They wouldn’t be far wrong in that assessment.

During Hogan’s speech to MBRG — an event he noted that drew much smaller crowds in the O’Malley years — he took credit for “one of the greatest economic turnarounds in the nation.

“We’re open for business,” Hogan said, the slogan he put on highway welcome signs the day he was sworn in.

Like the rest of the messaging, Hogan has repeated much of it many times before. He cited three balanced budgets in a row with no new taxes, along with some cuts in tax and fees, and a major rollback in tolls. New highway projects got underway and he provided record spending on education. (Some projects were possible because a cut in the gas tax he proposed got nowhere; the record school spending happens every year because of mandatory increases. But let’s not quibble.)

Like all governors and presidents, Hogan takes credit for improving the economy. He called it “an exciting economic resurgence” and cited rankings that moved Maryland up from the bottom of states in job growth to near the top. His communications staff provided the links to publications and studies to back up his assertions.

Plus, Maryland has “the second lowest percentage of people below the poverty line,” along with the highest median income in the nation, Hogan said. All true based on government data.

An eight-minute video prior to his GOP speech included poignant reminders of his battle with cancer in touching hospital scenes not seen before.

Some Exaggeration

There was some exaggeration and stretches in his speeches. All were within the previously acceptable range for politicos before the master of hyperbole occuping the Oval Office had blown those standards off and made exaggeration and fake news part of our daily diet.

In neither speech did Hogan once mention President Donald Trump, even by inference. Had Hogan attended the Red, White and Blue dinner two years before, he could have heard Trump in person make one of his first campaign appearances, long before he was taken seriously by the Republican establishment.

Trump and his policies are the elephant in the room for Hogan that could undermine all his good news and high ratings in opinion polls. After months of prodding by Democrats and progressives to take a stand against Trump on the environment, immigration, budget cuts, the Paris climate agreement and you-name-it, Hogan finally issued a statement critical of the Senate version of repeal-and-replace for Obamacare.

“We know the current system needs to be fixed, but the proposals that are being considered in Congress do not work for Maryland,”’ said Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse. “Congress should go back to the drawing board in an open, transparent and bipartisan fashion to craft a bill that works for all Americans.”
Both the U.S. House and Senate versions of repeal-and-replace will produce major financial stress for the ballooning Medicaid program in Maryland. This health coverage plan for lower-income people enjoyed a major expansion through the Affordable Care Act.

But Hogan’s statement was far too mild for Democrats’ palates. They’ve been demanding that Hogan dish out some hot sauce.

Hot Sauce From Frosh

And hot sauce they got from Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh. He used the powers newly granted him by the legislature to sue President Trump, but not over the kind of public policy issues envisioned in legislative debate. With D.C.’s attorney general, Frosh filed suit on the very personal grounds that payment by foreign governments for services at the Trump International Hotel, which is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, were a violation of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting such payments from foreigners.

Frosh justified Maryland’s right to file the suit by saying that Maryland hotels were being hurt by the business going to the Trump hotel, certainly a stretch.
Hogan has deliberately avoided any kind of personal attack on Trump, whom he had criticized during the campaign, but Frosh decided to poke him in the eye over the family business.

In a normal political environment, Hogan’s positive record and popularity might be enough to overcome his party affiliation; however, this is not a normal year. Democrats and independents are worried and scared about Trump, even though he’s not been able to get much of his program through Congress.

Preparing for 2018

Hogan is hardly the only candidate preparing for next year. In June, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced his long-expected reelection bid. There are now 10 candidates running for Howard County Council, since four of its five members must leave office due to term limits.

There is already a Republican primary race in District 5, the safely Republican western Howard County district, now represented by term-limited Greg Fox. Besides Realtor David Yungman (mentioned here last month), they are Keith Ohlinger and long-time Republican activist Jim Walsh, a lawyer.

There will be a Democratic primary in District 4, the West Columbia district now represented by Mary Kay Sigaty. Democrats Deb Jung and Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane have both filed, as has Republican Lisa Kim. Republican Raj Kathuria hopes to knock off Democrat County Council Chair Jon Weinstein in District 1.

In District 2, now represented by the departing Calvin Ball, Republican John Liao has filed his candidacy and Democrat Opel Jones is running. Democrat Christiana Rigby has filed to run for the District 3 seat, now held by Jen Terrasa.

Incumbent Legislators

While Democrat Ball is looking at challenging Kittleman, the options to run for legislature became more limited when all four Democratic incumbents in legislative District 13 filed for reelection together, as a team, last month. They are Sen. Guy Guzzone, who had his annual pizza party last month; and Dels. Vanessa Atterbeary, Shane Pendergrass and Frank Turner. Pendergrass is now chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee and Turner is vice chair of Ways & Means.

In District 12, Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, says he plans on seeking reelection. There is no sign that the three freshman delegates in District 12 won’t do the same.

Media business owner Dan Medinger, president of the Ellicott City Western Howard Democratic Club, has filed to run for delegate in District 9B, now represented by Republican Del. Bob Flanagan. Medinger lost the Democratic primary in 2014 for the Senate seat now held by Republican Gail Bates.

Salazar to Regulate

Gov. Hogan has named Tony Salazar, an attorney with the well-connected firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, as Maryland’s commissioner of financial regulation. Salazar served for 18 years as deputy general counsel of Provident Bank, a large regional mid-Atlantic bank that was based in Baltimore. He started his banking career as an enforcement attorney with office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Salazar had the political bug for a while, running as a Republican for Congress against Rep. Elijah Cummings in 2004. He also ran for County Council in 2006, losing to Democrat Courtney Watson in District 1.

West County Economic Engine for Region

When The Business Monthly began covering western Anne Arundel County almost 20 years ago, Southwest Airlines was just beginning to grow its now huge presence at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The land that became Arundel Mills, the Live! Casino, the big box stores and Arundel Preserve was barren.

COPT’s National Business Park was in its early stages of constructing new buildings for the National Security Agency, just coming out of the shadows and putting up signs announcing its presence (but the mantra was still, “No pictures, please.”).

The Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process that brought more defense agencies to Fort Meade had not begun.

And Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange was running for his first term in the Senate in District 32, which encompasses all these major employment centers, making them among the chief economic engines of the region, if not the state.

So it was not unusual for DeGrange, a pro-business moderate Democrat, to be sitting on a panel last month that discussed the impact of the Live! Casino on the local economy. The casino generates more than 3,000 jobs in the area, and more are on the way as a 20-story, $200 million hotel and conference center rises next to the casino. And don’t forget that the Laurel Park racetrack is part of his district, too, DeGrange reminded me in a conversation.

The casino also generates revenue for the area, and plenty of what a developer friend likes to dub “traffic opportunities.” DeGrange recalls the gridlock that occurred the night the casino opened five years ago.

Sports Betting on Table

DeGrange was on a panel organized by the American Gaming Association to tout the positive impact of casinos on local economies. But Geoff Freeman, the head of the trade group representing a thousand U.S. casinos, also had sports betting on his agenda.

It is crucial to “get the federal government out of the way” of sports gambling, said Freeman. Tens to hundreds of millions of dollars are currently being wagered on sporting events in Maryland, and “all of it is being done illegally,” Freeman said, since Congress banned the practice in 1992. “The demand has never been greater.”

Rob Norton, president of Cordish Global Gaming, which runs the Live! Casino, supported the idea, “if sports betting is continuing to expand.” It would be “another reason to bring people to the [casino] facilities,” Norton said. (The company recently dropped “Maryland” from the casino’s name.)

Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said, “I’d be very supportive of” sports gaming, though the battle is at the federal level.

“The lottery industry is very interested in making this a state issue and not a federal issue,” Medenica said, allowing each state to control the practice, as each do for other gambling.

DeGrange, a budget subcommittee chair, was interested in the idea.

“I think it’s the next step if the feds change the law,” DeGrange said. “It’s already going on” illegally, and if the state were to legalize it, “the casinos that are already heavily regulated by the state would be the place to do it.”

DeGrange can hardly take credit for the economic boom in his district, but in his low key, understated way, he has been supportive and attentive. But the four-term senator may face his toughest challenge next year from Republican County Council Chairman John Grasso, who has announced he will run for the seat.
Grasso Shouting Match

Grasso is anything but low-key and understated. He is blunt, outspoken and contentious, traits that were in full display early last month when he got into a shouting match with witnesses trying to testify on a resolution against racism.
In front of a packed council chamber in Annapolis, Grasso tried cut off people who insisted on bringing up Councilman Michael Peroutka’s past association with the League of the South, a secessionist group. Grasso ruled the comments out of order and demanded they stop talking, but they continued; the confrontation lasted a couple of minutes. The protesters eventually stomped out.

Peroutka Denounces Racism

At a council session later in the month, Peroutka read a statement saying he “categorically denounced these and any other racist statements” made by the head of the League of the South, after Peroutka left the organization in 2014.
“I do not believe, and have never believed, that racism is acceptable,” Peroutka said. “In both private and public policy, we must remember that God created only one race, the human race, and therefore all elevation or denigration of individuals or groups based on skin color is immoral and shameful, because it violates the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.”

“To be clear, I denounce and repudiate white supremacy, black supremacy and every form of favoritism and exclusion based on skin color,” he said.

The Constitution Party’s candidate for president in 2004, Peroutka strongly advocates limited government based on biblical principles. Now a Republican, he is often the lone vote on the seven-member council against laws and programs he believes violate the U.S. Constitution and the county charter.

Peroutka was the lone vote against the county’s $1.5 billion budget in June, as he has been the previous two years.

No Budget Fight

Peroutka’s quiet opposition to County Executive Steve Schuh’s spending plan was about the only objection raised to the budget, one of the smoothest approvals of a county budget in years.

While other counties and municipalities in Maryland declare themselves sanctuaries for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, Anne Arundel County has quietly gone ahead with plans to enforce U.S. immigration laws at the county jail. The move was initiated by Schuh, and opposition has been muted.

Busch: Liver Transplant

House Speaker Michael Busch, who represents the Annapolis area, is continuing to recover from a June 1 liver transplant.

Busch had looked to be in ill health for months, and was clearly ailing during the legislative session, though he denied it. He and his staff had given incomplete and conflicting stories about an illness that had hospitalized him last fall. First, his dramatic weight loss was described as a reaction to a flu shot, then it was said to be a reaction to an antibiotic for an unspecified disease.

When it was announced that he needed a liver transplant, getting part of his sister’s liver, the Annapolis Capital newspaper reported, for the first time, that the antibiotic was given after cancerous skin had been removed. This was the first time the Big C was mentioned.

Despite the illness, Busch has vowed to continue as speaker of the House, a post that has benefited Anne Arundel County mightily.

FMA Foundation Reaches Milestone for Resiliency, Education Center on Post

The Fort Meade Alliance (FMA) Foundation has been awarded $500,000 from the state of Maryland for its campaign to create a new Resiliency and Education Center at Fort Meade. This infusion marks a significant milestone in the foundation’s $3.6 million “Ready, Strong and Connected” campaign, which has raised more than $1.25 million.

In 2013, the FMA Foundation began this significant effort. The plan, which is a partnership with the U.S. Army and the Fort Meade Garrison, includes the renovation of the installation’s historic Kuhn Hall and its conversion into a Resiliency and Education Center, which will serve as a place for all those serving at Fort Meade and their families to find resources, services and programs. Veterans and retirees who live in the region also will be served.

Designed to serve 160,000 people on-post and in the communities that surround it, the center will host education courses by several colleges and universities, and provide information, programs and services on all five areas of resiliency — physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual. Those coming to the center can receive services there or be referred to additional resources on-post and in the community. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018.

The center will feature services ranging from guidance counseling and transition services to mental health counseling, wellness programs and financial planning. A premier benefit of this space will be new programming for educational programs needed for successful career placement and continuing education, and expansion of existing programs to broader audiences, including spouses.
At any given time, there are approximately 400 Army service members at Fort Meade transitioning out of the military — and the military unemployment rate is 7.1%, nearly 2% higher than the national average. Additionally, Fort Meade has a higher rate of chronic disease (cancer, arthritis, asthma, heart disease), behavioral health disorders (such as PTSD or anxiety) and substance abuse (alcohol, prescription medication and other drugs) than other U.S. Army installations.

For example, Fort Meade’s Behavior Health Programs had more than 27,600 appointments in 2015 — an increase of 2,500 appointments from 2014.

Howard Council Hears Reaction to Long Reach Revitalization Proposal

The Howard County Council heard overwhelmingly favorable testimony from the Long Reach community relating to proposed plans for the village center’s redevelopment, which were submitted by Orchard Development Corp., of Ellicott City. Orchard plans to purchase 7.7 acres of the depressed center that is currently owned by the county.

Columbia Association (CA) President and CEO Milton Matthews said he believes the proposed development plan will reposition Long Reach Village Center in the marketplace and “will bring about economic success and, over time, the village center will become an attractive destination.”

Matthews acknowledged that a new indoor tennis facility under construction at Long Reach should be considered in terms of how it integrates with the proposal.
“There is a possibility of pathways there,” he said, terming the tennis facility “a long overdue asset.”

Matthews also informed the council of CA’s desire to update the Stonehouse community center and its arts center in the village center.

“They’re 1960s vintage,” he said. “I don’t want those properties to look like sore thumbs with the redevelopment of the area.”

Among CA’s option, Mathews said, would be to renovate the properties or sell them to the master developer, noting that the issue would have to be brought up before the CA board for consideration.

Nina Basu, speaking for the Long Reach Community Association, expressed concern that Stonehouse has seen a decline in rental activity since 2015 because of its appearance. “We want to sink money back into community services,” she said, but asserted no CA assessment dollars or tax revenues are reaching the property.

Numbers Work

David Tohn, CEO of BTS Software Solutions, said Orchard’s plan for the Village Center makes sense from a business perspective. He cited a Howard County Economic Development Authority study that estimated that 730 jobs, $39 million in labor income, $105 million in economic activity and $4.2 million in tax revenues would be generated during the construction phase.

Post-construction, the numbers suggest 215 jobs, $11.3 million in labor income, $21.7 million in economic output and a sustained $1.3 million in taxes.

“The gut feeling is that the numbers worked are pretty close to accurate,” Tohn said. “From that standpoint, it appears the math works along with the concept.”
Leaders and congregants from the Celebration Church in the Village Center raised the only dispute over redevelopment plans, saying they felt their congregation was being ignored. Pastor Robbie Davis also raised concern over a lack of communication with Orchard, and said church leaders were concerned about church property having been “erased” from drawings used by Orchard to promote the project.

“We are excited about the reimagining of the village center and supportive of the need for development and redevelopment,” he said. “We desire to be a partner in this process and do not want to see this slowed down. We will continue to stand as a partner in the village center. It’s our desire not to be marginalized in the process, but to have a seat at the table.”

Full Education Board

In June, the council approved the Howard County Executive’s appointment of Ananta Hejeebu to fill an open seat on the county’s seven-member Board of Education.

Hejeebu, founder and managing partner of Howard Tech Advisors, is a 23-year resident of Howard County, with two children attending and one recent graduate of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). He serves on the Howard County Transition Commission for Youth with Disabilities and the Howard County Public School System Budget Review Committee.

“We were fortunate to have many talented, qualified candidates express interest in this position, and I appreciate their willingness to apply,” Kittleman said. “Mr. Hejeebu brings the right experience and commitment to the position. … As the board goes through this transition phase with an interim superintendent, Mr. Hejeebu’s management experience and community involvement will assist the board in making decisions.”

The council vote is scheduled for the July legislative session.

Redistricting, Elections

HCPSS Acting Superintendent Michael Martirano presented the 2017 Feasibility Study to the Howard County Board of Education during its June 22 meeting. The board presentation marks the beginning of a months-long process to plan attendance area adjustments for implementation in the 2018–19 school year.
The initial recommendation provides for a comprehensive attendance area adjustment at the elementary, middle and high school levels, in preparation for the opening of as-yet-unnamed New Elementary School No. 42 in 2018–19, and to resolve issues of overcrowded schools in the eastern portions of the county and under-capacity schools in western Howard County. The boundary line adjustments would affect approximately 8,800 students, or 15% of the student body.

The Attendance Area Committee (AAC) will meet throughout the summer to review the redistricting needs and consider alternative options. In addition to the AAC meetings, the Office of School Planning will hold two regional sessions for the public on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m., at Wilde Lake High School, and Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Howard High School. The purpose of these meetings will be to review recommendations from the AAC and the 2017 Feasibility Study.

Martirano will present his recommendation to the board at its Tuesday, Oct. 3, meeting, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The board will hold public hearings on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m., and work sessions on Wednesday, Nov. 1; Thursday, Nov. 2; Thursday, Nov. 9; and Tuesday, Nov. 14. All work sessions begin at 7:30 p.m.

The board is scheduled to take action on the attendance area revisions on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. The new attendance areas will go into effect at the start of the 2018–19 school year.

Announcing Candidacy

Finally, new candidates announcing their intentions to run for vacant County Council seats this year include Republican Jim Walsh in District 5 and Democrat Steve Hunt in District 3, and County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) officially announced his candidacy for re-election at a rally outside Clyde’s restaurant on the Columbia Lakefront on June 12.

Vantage House Unveils Renovations During Repositioning Project

Vantage House, an age 60-plus life plan community in Downtown Columbia, has announced the details of its multi-million-dollar repositioning project currently underway on campus.

The announcement said that the project will align the physical building with the overall needs and desires of those living at Vantage House, including socialization, health, fitness and connectivity. In the more than 25 years that Vantage House has been in Howard County as a full-service community, with health services available if a resident should ever need them, the older adult generation has changed, and the building will reflect that.

“Vantage House is responding to the changing needs and desires of retirees today in offering choice, quality and convenience in the best city in the United States to live,” said Glen Tipton, lead architect on the project from Hord Coplan Macht.

In October 2016, Money Magazine put Columbia atop the best places in live in the country. The city is celebrating its 50th birthday, and a revitalization is underway in Downtown Columbia. It will result in additional amenities for residents of Vantage House who already utilize extensive cultural, recreational and educational opportunities nearby.

“Retirement is no longer a time of ‘not doing things,’” said Andrew Morgan, director of marketing at Vantage House. “It’s a time to refocus and reconnect with the things that matter and mean something to you. A time to continue making a difference in the community. We are working to help people discover their core passions and share their talents and gifts in a meaningful way. We encourage people to rethink retirement and aging.”

The repositioning will be completed within the already established square footage of Vantage House, transforming the community to meet the evolving needs of the next generation.

The renovations will emphasize a larger, more prominent first floor fitness center. Plans call for a Cyber Café on the ground floor of the building, a neighboring library and a classroom for the community’s many educational offerings. A small movie theater will be added as well for residents to enjoy screenings in a more intimate setting; on the second floor, the arts and crafts room will be transformed into an art studio and the billiards room will be renovated into an open game area.

The most apparent change in the building will be in the way that people may choose to eat. Gone are the days of large, cafeteria-like dining halls, and the traditional one-room setting is being replaced with separate dining options with different atmospheres and food types throughout the community.

Residents will be welcomed home by the Vantage House concierge upon entering the community. They can get caught up on email or social media in the Cyber Café on the first floor. The second floor café will be transformed into a pub-style venue, and the large dining room will be divided into two separate venues: a more formal dining destination and a relaxing bistro.

“Vantage House is designed around those who live here, not just physically, but with specialized lifestyle offerings. We want to be able to complement and fit their lifestyle and not force residents to fit into our lifestyle,” said Meriann Ritacco, executive director of Vantage House

“By listening to what current and future residents want, we are keeping ahead of industry trends while staying true to those who live at Vantage House.”
In addition to the main changes, small cosmetic renovations will take place to update the property and make the exterior entrance more directly represent the innovative interior.

The Hord Coplan Macht-designed renovations will be completed with development consultant Greenbrier Development, of Dallas, and contractor The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., of Baltimore.

For further information, call 410-992-1241 or visit vantagehouse.org.

Young Urban Professionals ISO* Columbia Nightlife

 

Guidebooks recommend following the young crowd to find the best nightlife in an unfamiliar town.

On a day with no concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, heeding that advice in Columbia would likely deliver visitors to a destination in Ellicott City, Maple Lawn or some outlying city area miles from downtown.

That’s not saying there aren’t things to do in downtown Columbia after 8 p.m. Columbia Association schedules lakefront concerts and movies; Union Jack’s pub provides a relaxed atmosphere for gathering before, after or in lieu of a concert; Seasons 52’s happy hour gets good reviews; and the lakefront restaurants draw consistent crowds.

For the Sinatra set it may well be “My Kind of Town,” but it leaves the Peggy Lees of the world asking “Is That All There Is?” Seen from the eyes of a 20-something, those offerings can’t help but appear a bit stodgy.

As revitalization and redevelopment begin to transform Columbia’s downtown, the young professionals who work there and the city’s master developer alike are anxiously awaiting the tipping point that will shore up the elusive final pillar of that long-touted live-work-play tripod.

“What’s missing is a Main Street type of area where there are multiple late-night venues and hangout spots with different types of events on offer,” said Dave Sciamarelli, immediate past chair of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) Young Professionals Network (YPN) and a real estate adviser for MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services in Baltimore. “There are only one or two places downtown that have a dartboard or a pool table, and when you look at all the other places in that area, there is nothing to do there but drink.”

Here, There, Everywhere

Scott Ewart, a Columbia-based website designer and software developer, counts Nottingham’s Tavern among his clients. Located on Stanford Boulevard near Dobbin Center, the tavern caters to the young crowd with live music, karaoke and private parties, and has big screen televisions and billiard tables.
“If you look where the young crowd is going, they’re going to the places like Nottingham’s, or Looney’s Pub in Maple Lawn, the Greene Turtle, Sonoma’s Bar & Grill in Owen Brown, Second Chance Saloon in Oakland Mills, and maybe places like Frisco’s Tap House, the Columbia Ale House, Jailbreak Brewing in Laurel or Main Street Ellicott City,” he said.

These venues are literally all over the map geographically, but they all manage to pull in capacity crowds that skew heavily toward the young urban professional demographic.

“Most of the [outdoor ball fields and indoor courts] where young professionals blow off steam seem to be located just outside the village centers and close to some of these popular night spots,” Ewart said. “That collocation helps, but what these places really benefit from is things like live bands, karaoke, and the fact that they’re really, really good at marketing themselves on social media.”
And while it looks like many millennials may be delaying car ownership and don’t enjoy the most efficient public transportation network to reach these places, he added, that hurdle is easily overcome these days thanks to services such as Lyft and Uber, which can be relatively inexpensive if several riders split the fare.

Imagine several of these establishments on the same street in a walkable downtown, throw in a new entertainment option or two, and it’s easy to envision the vibrant scene that could unfold.

“Young professionals in general don’t spend a lot of nights in Columbia, even if they work there,” Sciamarelli said. “That trend will continue until someone is able to create an area where lots of people are going out three times a week because they actually have places to hang out … where they can be interactive with others.”

True Believers

According to Vanessa Rodriguez, spokesperson for downtown Columbia’s master developer, the Howard Hughes Corp., the creation of that type of atmosphere is already happening through the slow change occurring downtown.

“Right now concerts [at Merriweather] are the main reason to come,” she said. “Howard Hughes is trying to give people a reason to get here earlier and stay later after concerts, and maybe consider downtown as a place to go when there isn’t a concert. Our goal is to develop a place where visitors can park once and experience things for a whole day or an evening without having their experience broken up.”

Building the mixed-use Metropolitan Downtown Columbia was one of the first steps taken toward that goal.

“The true believers in a more vibrant future for downtown are already in place and love their life in the apartments there,” Rodriguez said. “They want more connectivity, they’re starving for more retail, and it’s now beginning to come on line as we work through the follow-on phases [of redevelopment].”

The Wecker Hospitality Group’s recently announced plans to open a concept restaurant called Cured and a live music lounge called 18th & 21st in One Merriweather by the end of the year has created a lot of buzz.

“Steve Wecker’s concept brings that next generation of experience that we’ve been looking for in downtown,” Rodriguez said, adding that Howard Hughes is hoping to make another major announcement in the near future concerning the next additions that will beef up the downtown’s nightlife scene.

Designing the Future

One of the biggest draws for millennials is live music, acknowledged HCCC Programs and Strategic Initiatives Vice President Kristi Simon.

“Unless you make a place for them to go in Columbia, they’ll simply go to Baltimore City,” she said. “Downtown Columbia isn’t a destination for millennials yet; areas are disjointed, it’s not easily walkable, and it’s hard to cross Little Patuxent Parkway. We know we have a lot of [vibrancy] in the Downtown Plan; we’re just in between phases waiting for everything to get built.”

Few young professionals under 30 can afford to live in Columbia, Sciamarelli acknowledged, “but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be things for them to do downtown, particularly if they work there.”

The retail landscape has evolved to include entertainment, Rodriguez said, while culture and food remain important components to activate interest and attract more people to an area.

“The evolution of downtown Columbia will include all of this, but right now our challenging connection is walkability,” she said. “Millennials and young professionals value their time; we know they want to work upstairs and walk downstairs to have fun. It’s the fabric of connectivity that we’re in the process of creating. I believe we’re seeing the first steps toward tipping the iceberg and moving closer to that vibrant downtown atmosphere we’ve envisioned together as a community.”

*In search of

Professional Perspective Co-Evolving With Nature

 

On the observational walks I lead around Columbia, participants are surprised to hear that there is much more biodiversity here today than in the years before Columbia. After all, much of what is today the city of Columbia used to be corn and soybean fields, sand and gravel pits and hunting preserves. Nature was restricted to hedgerows between fields, woodlots along steep stream valleys and fallow fields. Some of the wildlife (deer, woodchuck, beaver, fox, rabbit, raccoon, quail and crow) was kept in check by hunting — for food, for fun or to limit their impact on crops.

Of course before the Europeans came there was a vastly more diverse ecosystem here, but it is probably not realistic to think we could ever go back to those days.
Columbia developer Jim Rouse’s vision of setting aside 30% of the land as “open space” proved to be significant for the future health of the region. Columbia Association (CA) now manages nearly 4,000 acres of open space, and the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks manages another 12,000 acres across the county. These green areas have allowed for larger chunks of forest and wetlands to develop, and as a result we have a wider variety of birds and other species living here today.

Man-Made Nature

It is not just the open space that attracts humans and other species. We have also planted close to a million trees in this little suburb of ours. One hears the pileated woodpecker and the wood thrush much more today than in years past.
Residents have planted a wide variety of shrubs and plants in their yards as well. Many of these plants help support a wide variety of butterflies, fireflies and birds.

The lakes are another habitat that did not exist 50 years ago. They have brought in a wide number of new species that can be communed with throughout the year by walking the paths around lakes Elkhorn and Kittamaqundi, and Wilde Lake, as well as many of the smaller ponds and streams. It is not uncommon to see eagles; osprey; kingfishers; and great blue, green and night herons fishing on these lakes. They are also wonderful winter havens for hooded mergansers, ring necks, pied bill grebes, buffleheads, canvasbacks, coots, loons and other water birds.

In summer we are treated to a range of warblers and other beautiful songbirds like the Baltimore oriole and the scarlet tanagers.

One of the major Piedmont-type habitats that we are sorely missing is meadowlands. Gone with the meadows are the meadowlark, quail and pheasant that used to be common in this area. The best meadows left today are at the Howard County Conservancy and along utility right-of-ways.

A Green Plan

To better preserve these natural areas, Howard County has developed a Green Infrastructure Network plan that attempts to tie these green areas together. The hope is that all future development, as well as private or public land management, would consider the importance of this network and do whatever is possible to enhance it.

A wide variety of ecosystem services are supported by the nature found in this network. For instance, it can help keep flooding to a minimum, improve air and water quality, and keep us and other life healthy.

Over the years many of the streams and the lakes in Columbia have been badly damaged by flash flooding and runoff from residential and commercial development. This will only get worse as bigger storms become more frequent.
There is now an effort to restore these streams. All landowners could be a big help in this effort by installing rain gardens and other bio-retention systems to slow the flow of rainwater, allow rain to filter into the soil and recharge the groundwater table, rather than running off into local streams, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

 

Restoring the Balance

New local developments should, remarkably, improve water quality because the county has modernized the development process and requirements. Many of the current problems result from waters not being able to soak into the ground because of all the impermeable surfaces. I am looking forward to seeing many of our vast parking lots and warehouses be rebuilt with modern stormwater management techniques.

Howard Hughes has completed an excellent stream restoration project behind Symphony Woods and in its Crescent area. It also has done a remarkable job in the parking lot of the Whole Foods store. They and other developers are to be commended for helping to reestablish some balance between man and nature — to the benefit of us all.

All homeowners and businesses could help with this goal by planting more native trees and shrubs. I see the future as one where we do understand the impacts of our human activities and we learn what it will take to maintain a healthy balance with the natural world. I see it as humans learning how to co-evolve with nature. Nature is certainly trying to coevolve with us.

We can never go back to the pre-colonization days, but as we have shown over the last 50 years, we can learn how to make our land healthy again. It will take the efforts of all of us as our population here in Columbia continues to grow.

 

Ned Tillman is a sustainable business advocate and the author of “The Chesapeake Watershed” and “Saving the Places We Love.” He lives in Columbia and can be reached at ned@sustainable.us, or visit www.SavingThePlaces.com.

Backstage Report: It’s a New Era for Merriweather

 

We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play
—Lyrics from Jackson Browne’s
“The Load-Out.” From the Asylum album “Running on Empty.” Written by Jackson Browne and Bryan Garafalo.
Performed at Merriweather Post Pavilion Aug. 27, 1977

 

Most of the music fans who plan to be at Merriweather’s 50th Anniversary Concert on Saturday, July 15, which will feature Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, classic country icon Willie Nelson, singer-songwriters Grace Potter and Father John Misty, will recall Browne’s above lament from “The Load-Out.”

If they’ve reflected on Browne’s as-usual cerebral lyrics, they also have a good idea about the other side of show business: the grind with the fast food, the overnight bus trips, the hotels.

The separation.

And yes, the load-out. And the ensuing load-in.

The concerts are fun. But that ain’t the half of it.

Many of those fans have scads of memories of Merriweather and know why music industry publications, like Billboard and Rolling Stone, have lauded the venue on various occasions in recent years, citing its Walden-esque charm at what feels like the Oriole Park at Camden Yards of music.

But few of them ever saw the old, way-too-small backstage, which as independent promoter Seth Hurwitz of I.M.P. humorously noted in a recent interview with WTOP Radio: “That really got to be almost like a shantytown back there,” he said.

Speaking of making a musical memory, the old backstage area is now just that. With a $55 million price tag, its future has arrived — with an exclamation point.

New Out Back

The host of features that the new backstage offers to artists and their crews is extensive and can be comfortably mentioned aside the names of Marriott and Hilton.

One can begin with the headliner suite, which includes a private outdoor lounge with a 40-foot stone fireplace and two full restrooms; nine other full-size dressing rooms, with full baths; a large production office that accommodates 12 people, with ample storage; a 400-capacity multi-purpose room for after parties and a private meet-and-greet gazebo.

Then there’s a commercial-level laundry room, a full kitchen in addition to the catering services of London-based Eat to the Beat, a massage room and a concierge in case there are any questions.

And, by the way, there’s a Jacuzzi with a small swimming pool.
Hurwitz said that lots of jaws are dropping when the tour parties see the specatcle for the first time.

“They’ve truly never seen anything like it,” he said. “The best result is that they hang out there instead of on their buses, and that was the intent. I’ve had a lot of, ‘Wow … can we stay here next time? Seriously?’

For the sake of comparison, The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park, which is located in Northern Virginia and often competes with Merriweather for shows, was built to host large-scale Broadway productions, as well as concerts. This summer, “The Little Mermaid” and the upcoming “Mamma Mia” are highlights on its schedule; the venue is also the summer home of the National Symphony Orchestra, so that means accommodating 90 musicians, plus their instruments.
That’s no problem, said Michelle Pendoley, spokesperson for the venue, who said Wolf Trap “can very comfortably house them in its 16 principal dressing rooms,” along with three chorus dressing rooms that each hold 50 people. All told, the backstage area can accommodate 200 people.

And amenities are “certainly part of how an artist experiences a venue,” she said.
“We’re incredibly artist-centric, and have catering and prep kitchen facilities in-house, as well as an Xbox, a custom-branded arcade console that plays all of the games from the ’80s and other accoutrements,” Pendoley said, “but what’s different about Wolf Trap is a private patio that backs up to a national park.”

Tour Hijinx?

Guitarist Cory Churko is a veteran music tour warrior, having played internationally while serving as music director for country legend Shania Twain and as guitarist for popster Kelly Clarkson. In recent years, he’s spent considerable time playing with Twain during her residencies in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace and the subsequent 2015 North American tour. While he has yet to see the new backstage at Merriweather, he’s impressed by the photos and is hoping for the opportunity experience the pavilion.

“Playing at Caesar’s was nice, because Shania had a full-on condo and every band member had their own dressing room,” Churko said, “but I’ve also hung out in plenty of hotel rooms, buses and trailers. I’ve never seen a hot tub and a pool behind the stage. Judging by the photos, Merriweather’s is the nicest backstage area I’ve seen.”

That may seem like a big statement, but Churko well knows the usual drill.
“We had an arcade-type basketball hoop at one stop on one of Kelly’s tours,” he said, trying to recall some kind of highlight at the usual venues, “but more often than not, we’re on the bus, binge watching TV, playing video games, answering email,” etc.

Churko and most of Clarkson’s band recently toured with Jordan Smith, the winner of season nine of NBC-TV’s “The Voice,” and the dates included a stop in Annapolis at Maryland Hall. While that day also involved some sightseeing, he added that he and his mates spent time “playing hockey with a plastic cup and coat hangers while sitting in rolling chairs backstage.”

For fans who wonder what’s happened to the tales of sex and drugs before the rock-and-roll segment of the day, Churko says that’s over with. “The drugs have been replaced with a juicer,” he said, with a laugh. “That’s pretty much the norm on tours these days.”

‘A Big Deal’

Scott Boorey is manager for the Steve Miller Band, which just returned to Merriweather for the first time in nine years. He and the band were similarly impressed with what awaited them on the early stop of its 30-plus city tour.
“I must say, after 35-plus years of managing, I have never seen an in-ground pool and spa in the back stage area before,” Boorey said. “Merriweather Post has stepped up the backstage environment 10-fold.”

As jaw-dropping as the new accommodations may be, the question of the deluxe creature comforts equating to more shows and more money for I.M.P. remains; but know that the company has built its reputation on offering a personal touch to artists and their organizations.

Gary Bongiovanni said it will. The CEO and editor-in-chief of Pollstar, a Fresno, Calif.-based company that provides various information services for the concert industry, said that comfort is a big consideration for touring acts.

“Most artists follow the money” and may opt to play a venue where they can charge more for, or sell more, tickets, “but this is a big deal,” Bongiovanni said. “I hear about hot tubs and Jacuzzis, but I don’t often hear about a pool being backstage. Merriweather also has the advantage of being close to the population centers, yet is nestled in a park-like atmosphere.

“Know that the booking agents go around to different shows and they want the road crews to be comfortable, too,” he said, “and the crews remember being at certain venues. Going to Merriweather has been a good experience that’s gotten better.

“And,” Bongiovanni said, “Seth built this backstage based on his personal experience. He knows what the road crews want.”

The Pay Off

With bookings at Merriweather for 2017 up about 25% from last year, is the new backstage the reason why?

“No, not at all,” said Hurwitz. “The [current schedule was] booked way before any word got out about [the updates]. I kind of dropped the ball last year, to be honest. You think you’re at a point where you can coast a bit, and then you are cruelly reminded that that day never comes. No coasting. Ever.”

So now that he’s back in gear and fighting with the region’s other venues for bookings, most notably Jiffy Lube Live, a larger shed that’s located in the outer reaches of Northern Virginia (which is owned by Live Nation, a corporation that Hurwitz has battled in court over booking practices), he’ll have even more buzz to sell as he approaches artists’ reps about playing the classic amphitheater.

And by the way, speaking of “The Load-Out” — when Jackson Browne’s current entourage rolls into Merriweather this month, they’ll be glad to see the new loading dock. It now features a 24-foot-wide by 12-foot-tall door, with six lighted bays and a working area that’s 30 feet wide and 75 feet long.

Strategic Sourcing Evolves Into Category Management

Steve Krauss, director of the General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Category Management Strategic Execution, updated industry on the status of the Category Management program at the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) recent “Getting Back 2 Business” Small Business Outreach event, which was held at Towson University, in Baltimore County.

Hundreds of large and small businesses participated in the day-long program to educate vendors on the ongoing changes in the federal government marketplace.
The Category Management (CM) program has evolved from the original Strategic Sourcing Program (SSP), which seemed to favor large business over small business service and product providers. Krauss shared that most Fortune 500 companies have adopted category management during the past 20-to-30 years.

“We took a new look at a data-driven marketplace to organize a procurement management process by services and products,” he said.

The federal government plans to implement this CM process government-wide to eliminate redundancies, increase efficiencies and deliver more value and savings from the federal government’s acquisition programs.

New Design

However, while the previous SSP usually pertained to a specific contract and often used large businesses, the new CM program is designed be used for many contracts, and, to maximize small, innovative businesses participation and utilization by increasing market transparency and reducing contract duplication — improving matchmaking mechanisms and ensuring that participating small businesses are well-qualified.

Kraus stated, “The vision of the CM program is to have agencies expend less energy buying common things, so they can focus more on buying for their mission. The $445 billion federal government purchasing landscape is fragmented, and many agencies make similar purchases without a coordinating strategy, which result in costly redundancies in contract vehicles, buys and efforts.”

The future state of government-wide CM purchasing is based on one common management framework: to buy like a business, but where industry is also involved in developing category strategies, ultimately minimizing contract duplication and confusion with the goals of saving time and money for both government and business.

The GSA Category Management program has developed 10 categories for both services and products including facilities and construction, professional services, information technology, medical, industrial services and products, transportation and logistics, security and protection, human capital, travel and office management. Each category has a specific small business strategy and assigned personnel to manage participation.

Saving Money

An example of CM in progress is the consolidation under the GSA’s Professional Services Schedule of more than 4,400 GSA Schedule professional services contracts to eliminate 700 duplicative contracts, saving the government $3.95 million in contract management costs. Krauss said that this consolidation is designed to also reduce costs for vendors who should have been able to cut the number of contracts to manage themselves without losing any labor categories or contract opportunities.

One of the most innovative CM tools being developed is a vendor finder process that will mine data from the System for Award Management (SAM), the Dynamic Small Business Database (DSBS) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) to quickly locate small businesses that have past performance, capacity and up-to-date registrations.

This tool is intended to benefit small business with improved visibility to opportunities, transparent contract participation standards and an “always-open” market. It is now available for anyone to see at GSA’s Acquisition Gateway at hallways.cap.gsa.gov, where one can search for the initial industry of security guard services.

More industries are expected to be added. This Acquisition Gateway is expected to serve as a hub of intelligence and communication for both small business and small business advocates throughout the federal contracting community.

Stay Up-to-Date

As the discussion on the CM program concluded, Krauss discussed the Small Business Playbook, which is a plan to use an evidence-based approach to maximizing small business opportunities; while applying a unified strategy, standard activities and best practices.

He identified four elements (or chapters), which include the following.
• Improve market analysis and research designed to highlight qualified businesses and eliminate unqualified businesses;

• Structure contracts to include small business zones where supported by market analysis;

• Explore ways to bring in new small businesses, such as through a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business on-ramp;

• Removing non-performing businesses and large businesses who do not meet small business subcontracting requirements.

While the intent of the CM program is to ultimately improve efficiency and reduce cost to the government, it will be critical for small businesses to stay informed of the development of the processes, tools, analyses and requirements incorporated into this program, especially if it is adopted government-wide as anticipated by Krauss.

 

Gloria Larkin is founder and CEO of TargetGov and a national expert in business development in the government markets. She can be contacted at glorialarkin@targetgov.com, via www.targetgov.com or at 866-579-1346.

Howard County Chamber of Commerce

HCCC Offers Assistance to Committee on Paid Leave

After more than a year advocating against the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) is offering its assistance to Gov. Larry Hogan and the newly created Committee on Paid Leave Policy, as they work to create more balanced and predictable leave laws.
The HCCC was very active in the fight against the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (commonly referred to as the Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Act) and its efforts have been successful — as last month, Hogan vetoed the act. He also issued an executive order creating a Committee on Paid Leave Policy, tasked with collecting data and information to assess Maryland workers’ access to paid leave, and the extent to which providing such leave would impose burdens and hardships on Maryland businesses.

As the voice of business for Howard County, Chamber President and CEO Leonardo McClarty wrote to Hogan to let him know that the chamber is ready to assist the Committee on Paid Leave Policy any way possible, to ensure a predictable leave law can be created that does not impose unreasonable costs on businesses or their customers.

We will continue to keep our members and the Howard County business community informed as the committee moves forward, trying to come up with a common-sense policy that would meet the needs of employees and the employers we represent.

The committee has developed an online survey tool for businesses and employees to submit feedback. It can be found at www.dllr.state.md.us/paidleave.

Tech Talent at HCCC

The HCCC’s 8th Annual Cyber Conference saw the region’s top cybertechnology and security talent turn out at Howard Community College. Attendees heard from keynote speakers like Curtis Dukes, Ron Gula and Lonny Anderson, who talked about cybertechnology trends, security and predictions for the industry.
This was the first year that two tracks were offered so attendees could choose which sessions to attend, based on their level of expertise, the organization they represented or even on which topics they were most intrigued by. Moderators and panelists covered everything from developing insider threat programs and selling out through private equity, venture capital and strategic buyers to how government and higher education are spurring innovation.

The chamber owes a debt of gratitude to all of the speakers, panelists, sponsors, exhibitors, staff, volunteers and cyberconference committee members who helped make Cyber 8.0 a huge success.

Partnering With HCEDA

The HCCC is now working with the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) to help welcome new businesses to the county. The idea behind the New Business Welcome program, sponsored by Columbia Association, is to continue to position Howard County as the best place to start, grow or relocate a business.

At the first New Business Welcome event June on 14, business owners were introduced to government and community leaders, including Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. Business were also given information about the resources available to them through the county, the HCEDA and the chamber to ensure their success. The HCCC looks forward to continuing to partner on this initiative.

The Big Move

Howard County’s downtown and innovation districts are going through some major changes, and the HCCC is following suit. The chamber is in the middle of a rebranding effort that will give it a new look, to be revealed this fall; and for the first time in 18 years, the chamber will also have a new address.

Starting Sept. 1, you will find the HCCC at our newly renovated space at 6240 Old Dobbin Lane. The space will put us in a more central location with easy access to the area’s major highways and in close proximity to Columbia Gateway Business Park, Howard County’s largest business center. Earlier this year, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced a new vision for the park that would turn it into “an innovation district, where leading-edge companies work with anchor educational institutions and startups, to collaborate on new technologies and services.”

We look forward to holding an open house this fall to give our members a look at the new space and how it will better position the HCCC to move forward.

Central Maryland Chamber

How the CMCC Impacts Business

With a stressful sigh, George stared at the spreadsheet on his computer. Reality stared back.

George faced rising costs for running his business. He needed to find a way to cut those costs — or he would have to raise prices, and he wasn’t sure how his customers would react. Dreading the thought of raising prices, he asked his peers in the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s (CMCC) Small Business CEO Roundtable meeting for suggestions.

To his surprise, someone suggested he look at the CMCC energy cooperative.
This free program for chamber members has saved businesses, depending on size, hundreds and thousands of dollars on their electric and natural gas bills. His colleague told him he knew of a small auto shop saving $1,000 a year through the chamber cooperative; larger businesses were saving more.
With a solution in hand, George smiled.

If you’re a business owner looking for ways to cut business expenses, contact Nancy LaJoice of the CMCC at 410-672-3422. Its energy cooperative and other benefits can help you save money and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Upcoming Events

• Tuesday, July 11: Networking Mixer at Alexan Concorde
Join the CMCC for an evening of productive networking at the beautiful new luxury apartments in Linthicum Heights, from 5–7 p.m.

• Wednesday, July 12: Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting at PrideStaff

PrideStaff is a national staffing and employment agency offering a full range of staffing and employment services in various professional and light industrial disciplines. The event will run from 5–7 p.m. and is free to attend at 1215 Annapolis Road, Suite 202, Odenton. No registration is required.
• Thursday, July 20: Membership 101

Do you ever feel uncomfortable at networking events? This program teaches little known, but highly effective, tips that will have you networking like a pro. Also enjoy friendly connections and learn how you can use membership to grow your business. The free program is open to members who want to discover new ways to use their membership.

• Wednesday, Aug. 16: Largest Networking Breakfast of the Year
Save the date. This event has sold out in the past and attracted 250 attendees. Registration is now open.

For more information and to register for these and other events, visit www.CentralMarylandChamber.org/events.

For Your “Must Read” List

If you’re planning that summer getaway, consider adding some titles to your Kindle or carry-on to jump start your work come fall.

How do you want to grow? What skills do you wish to improve? How can you help your team achieve success? There are so many choices that it’s hard to know where to start.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are some ideas from Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) library.

“The Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage,” by James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., and Joe Wheeler. CEOs, human resource professionals and managers can use this to recruit, hire and coach engaged employees. If you’re seeking quality work, an ownership culture and lower turnover, this might be for you.

“The New Elevator Pitch: The Definitive Guide to Persuasive Communication in the Digital Age,” by Chris Westfall. Learning to craft and use an elevator pitch can help you land a job, get a sale, an investor and even a date. This book starts with strategy, moves into speed networking and gives practical scenarios to illustrate how you can apply what you’ve learned.

“Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business,” by Ted Prodromou. Who among us couldn’t benefit from some tips to help us harness social media for our business? From those looking for a job to those looking for new employees or new mediums to publish content, this book will sell you on why you should be using LinkedIn and what exactly you can do with it.

“The Complete Leader: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a High-Performing Leader,” by Ron Price and Randy Lisk. Need a reminder about why you became a leader? This book can do that and show how becoming a better leader is an everyday learning opportunity.

“Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System for Driving Breakthough Creativity,” by Josh Linkner. If you’re ready to step outside yourself and look at things with new lenses, you’ll find the theory of disruption might be just what your organization needs to stay relevant in the marketplace.

“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman,” by Yvon Chouinard. The story of the founder and owner of Patagonia is inspirational on many levels. From humble beginnings to thrilling adventures, the book reveals how the author incorporated his passion for doing good and the outdoors into his business.

“Becoming a Leader of Character: 6 Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home,” by Gen. James L. Anderson, USA (Ret.) and Dave Anderson. BBB serving Greater Maryland is in the midst of accepting applications for the 2017 Torch Awards, a process that ultimately honors companies whose leaders demonstrate high character ethics in all areas of their operation. In the book, the father and son authors, both graduates of West Point, share their thoughts on practicing to become honorable leaders.

Hopefully, this list encourages you to seek something to expand your mind as you hit the reset button during the weeks ahead. When you get back in the office, I hope you’ll join us for this year’s Torch Awards for Ethics. Winners will be announced at our Centennial Celebration on Sept. 19 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

In the meantime, happy travels and happy reading.

 

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and abarnett@greatermd.bbb.org.

Kid Tech

Just how much technology is good in children’s lives?

No parent would consider a school up to snuff if it didn’t contain computers, even pre-schools. The iPad has become the must-have accessory for car trips to prevent repeated queries of, “Are we there yet?” And using the Pad, kids can answer that, along with how far they have to go, and where the next McDonalds is so they can pester their parents about making a quick stop.

But even more interesting (or intrusive) is the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in home devices and those specifically aimed at kids. The device that comes to mind is made by Mattel (“You Can Tell … It’s Swell”) and is called Aristotle.

Designed to start out as a night light and soothing noise source (it can play white noise or a lullaby if it senses baby movement), it has a camera that you can monitor from your phone. It also can read stories from its selection, play some games like animal sounds and teach ABCs and 1-2-3s. It has built-in Alexa capabilities, but also reacts to the “Aristotle” hailing, when a child is asking more childish questions.

The Alexa capability will allow it to answer homework questions and “grow up” with the child. This costs around $300 and is expected to be released this summer.

This joins millions of standard voice assistants in homes. Expected sales of things like Amazon’s Echo/Alexa, Google Home and Microsoft’s Cortana will exceed 25 million units this year, compared to 1.7 million in 2015.

AI has been getting better constantly, which helps promote the use of these devices. The ability to understand questions and look up a decent answer increases dependence — but increases frustration when it doesn’t work.

How Much?

Kids are already glued to screens, with phones being the dawn-to-midnight accomplice of every middle-schooler (well, maybe not dawn, because they won’t wake up until noon if left alone). Adding the ability to answer questions simply by voice command is further ingratiation and addictive.

Does this mean kids are less likely to ask a parent about something? Especially if the parent then uses Alexa to get an answer? Probably. Most children will accept “the voice’s” answer as more correct than a parent’s anyway.

This is probably not a good thing. Same with the command structure used for questioning — even though Aristotle can be set to require a “please” before it will answer a question, everything else does not. So kids are more direct and less polite, and it spills over to other conversations. Not good, either.

Wait, There’s More

What do kids and computers have to do with advertising? A lot, apparently. A toy called Pie Face, which involves hitting yourself in the face with a dollop of whipped cream while wearing a silly mask, was the largest-selling game in 2016 and the fourth-best-selling toy overall.

Sales were powered by postings of people doing just that. Hasbro, the toy’s seller, has found that 50% of purchasers post a video of themselves on Facebook or YouTube getting pasted. They saw a toy that was originally created by a small British company and had gone viral with clips from a grandfather and grandson, recognized the potential and ran with it.

The game-changing aspect of this is that very little traditional advertising is needed, which is a great cost advantage. If you can produce something that people can video acting silly and post, it will spread. Goofy helps, with the added aspect of making the user the star of his or her own video.

So, the desire to be cool on social media works. Other toy manufacturers are rushing to use this for games involving water-filled eggs, etc. Expect more.

More, More, More

As this is written, news comes of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. With 431 stores nationwide and a workforce of 90,000 employees, it is the 30th largest retailer in the U.S. It has had a few rough years, laying off 1,500 workers in 2015; but, in general, it pays above-average wages and offers decent benefits, such as insurance premiums that go down as the years of service increase.

Amazon opened a grocery store in Seattle last year that has no cashiers. It has sensors that detect what you buy and bills your Amazon account directly. Obviously, this is seen as a large threat by Whole Foods employees, who worry about automation like this eating their jobs.

Self-service is not limited to Amazon, of course. Any one of us who has looked at the cashier’s lines at Giant or Safeway and slipped into their self-check has contributed to this. The stores encourage this by limiting the number of humans, pushing us into self-service mode, which enables them to say that we use it and thus must like it (we don’t).

It turns out that cashier is the second-largest occupation in the country. It’s not the best job, but is often something that allows people to survive. It will be interesting to see what Amazon does and how it affects the industry.

 

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and offers PC troubleshooting, network setups and data retrieval when not hating self-service checkouts that can’t tell a carrot from a cupcake. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at cliff@feldwick.com. Older columns are online at http://feldwick.com.

Martirano Announces HCPSS Central Office Reorganization

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Acting Superintendent Michael Martirano announced plans for a reorganized central office, structured to drive his vision for a robust instructional program that ensures equity and enables all students to reach their greatest potential.

The new model is aligned to several core principles that include school responsiveness, continuous improvement, employee and community engagement, and transparency in every aspect of school system operations.

The new organization provides a flatter leadership model that fosters cross- and vertical collaboration and opens lines of communication at all levels throughout the school system. With a focus on instruction as a birth-through-graduation continuum, the new structure better positions the school system to address and overcome factors that contribute to the achievement gap.

Martirano’s senior leadership team will consist of the following.

• Karalee Turner-Little, assistant superintendent for administrative affairs, overseeing systemic processes, legislative services and policy management.

• Mark Blom, general counsel, overseeing all legal matters and public information act request fulfillment.

• Kevin Gilbert, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, overseeing the integration of these principles throughout the educational program and school system culture.

• Helen Nixon, chief human resources and professional development officer, overseeing recruitment, hiring, compensation, and staff and leadership development.

• Anissa Brown Dennis, chief operations officer, overseeing capital planning, infrastructure development, facilities management and safety.

• A chief academic officer, overseeing shared accountability, curriculum and instruction, special education and student services. (Position open.)

• A chief business and technology officer, overseeing all financial and technology operations and ensuring responsible stewardship of school system resources. (Position open.)

• A chief communication, community and workforce engagement officer, overseeing communications, workforce engagement and partner engagement. (Position open.)

• A chief school management and instructional leadership officer, overseeing a vertical educational delivery model that encompasses preschool through Grade 12.

• Three new community superintendent positions, each overseeing a regional cluster of elementary, middle and high schools, who will report to the chief school management and instructional leadership officer. These positions are currently open.

Additional new positions to be filled include the following.

• Industrial hygienist/indoor environmental quality manager, reporting to the chief operating officer, to ensure the safety and health of all classrooms and work areas.

• Performance, equity and community response officer, reporting to the community superintendents, to collaborate with principals in implementing instructional and curricular programs.

• Policy manager, reporting to the assistant superintendent for administrative affairs, to oversee planning, revision and management of all HCPSS policies.
• Special education parent liaison, reporting to the interim superintendent, to increase responsiveness to parent concerns.

“A superintendent rarely has the opportunity to effectuate change at this level and scope,” said Martirano. “I am grateful for the tremendous support from our Board of Education, county leaders, parents, teachers and staff, and entire community that make this new direction possible.”

Saltzman: Hard Work Pays Off for Self Advocate

Hannah Saltzman had always dreamed of becoming an administrative assistant. Despite her interest, landing her job with the Space Systems Engineering Group at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) wasn’t easy.
Like other APL job applicants, she interviewed with three people. Each interview was about 25 minutes long and included in-depth questioning and skills assessment.

She got through the process with flying colors, but to people who know her that came as no surprise, as Saltzman had won The Arc of Howard County’s Self Advocate of the year award in 2016. In describing her for the award nomination, Project SEARCH Manager Barbara Moyer said she’s “upbeat, positive and full of energy. She seems to relish new tasks and opportunities that come her way.”
Among the new tasks was a presentation at The Arc’s of Howard County legislative breakfast, where Saltzman discussed her job at APL, as well as the hard work it took to get there. She’s also a leader in the pre-employment room, helping newcomers feel included and assisting people who don’t understand their assignments.

Saltzman prepared for her job at APL by volunteering at The Arc’s front desk and helping collate papers and put together binders. At the same time, she was working as a front-end courtesy clerk at the Clarksville Giant.

At APL, she does data input and is a supply room manager.

“I really enjoy working with Hannah,” said her mentor, Patty Higgs. “She’s eager to learn and likes to stay busy. It’s been incredible to watch how far she’s come from when she started working at APL.”

To learn more about The Arc of Howard County’s Employment Services, contact Tami Shaw at 410-730-0638.

Letter to the Editor

Don’t Forget Paris, As in the Agreement

As an architect, one of my key goals is designing sustainable buildings for current and future generations who will live and work in the structures I’ve created. A sustainable and resilient-built environment is one of the best solutions we have to combat the effects of climate change.

That’s why I’m so concerned about President Trump’s plan to withdraw the United States from The Paris Agreement. One hundred ninety-five countries, including the U.S., adopted this first-ever universal climate deal in 2015 that sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous effects to our environment.

Architects have a unique role to play in achieving the agreement’s goals. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings are responsible for 73% of all electricity consumption in the U.S., with about half of that coming from commercial buildings. American architects are focused on designing buildings that are energy efficient and, in some cases, nearly carbon neutral. We have worked hand-in-hand with the federal government to help make our profession, and country, competitive global leaders in the quest for an energy-efficient built environment. Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is a major step back for America’s global leadership in sustainable design and removes us from the ability to win Green Jobs here in the United States.
— Lance E. Davis, Edgewater

Letter from the Publisher

Choose Civility — As Long as You
Agree With Me
I am not sure American politics have progressed much since the 1700s. We read stories of our early legislators hitting each other over the head, calling each other names, and in general, behaving in a very uncivilized manner. Fast forward 400 years, and it seems a lot the same.

Perhaps the actual bumps on the heads are less, but the anger and the venom seem to be worse. And, with 24/7 media coverage, we get ring-side seats. Is it really any surprise that our citizens emulate the behavior of those in leadership positions? Shouldn’t our leaders be the ones demonstating maturity, compromise and tolerance? I don’t see it.

Trust me, this is a nonpartisan opinion. I am pointing fingers in all directions, or should that be in both directions? One party is no better than the other, although they would have you believe they are. I see the same school yard antics on both sides of the aisle — and at the federal, state, and sadly, sometimes even local levels.

I am concerned that, with elections being only 17 months away, we need to prepare to hang onto our seats. Buckle the seatbelts, I am sure we are in for another ugly campaign. Of course, we aren’t past the one six months ago, but can it get any worse? It’s pretty scary.

Checks and Balances

I believe our forefathers incorporated a good number of checks and balances, but in our crafty way, we seem to have found our way around many of them. One of the most egregious I see is lawmakers making laws that benefit themselves — especially at the expense of the people whom they were elected to represent.
Of course, the first things that come to mind at the federal level are health care, retirement benefits, etc. As an employer, I am required, by law, to provide the same benefits to my employees that I receive. Note, by law. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to apply to our legislators. Hmmmmm …

One of the the recent controversaries at the state level is gerrymandering. For me, it is cheating, plain and simple. That may sound naïve, but that is exactly what it is — all to be sure that the outcome slants in a particular direction. No consideration is given to what is best for the people, but only what is best for the party.

I suppose you can make the argument that what is best for the party is best for the people, but that seems delusional. Personally, and note this is an opinion piece, I believe anything that benefits a politician or a party should not be decided — nor directed — by a politician or a political party.

A friend just told me she was called to take a survey regarding candidates running for office. The question, about a variety of campaign statements, was, “Does this seem believeable to you?” She answered “no” to all questions and said, “I don’t believe statements made only to put the candidate in as positive of a light as possible.” Sad commentary, but I agree — when on the campaign trail or in front of a camera, I take things with lots of grains of salt.

While I am at it, I also believe there should be term limits. And if not term limits, then position limits. Someone should not be speaker of the House or president of the Senate for decades. That’s too much power for too long for any politician.
I am truly concerned about the hateful words and behavior that is coming from the leaders of our country, our state and even down home. I expect better. I taught my children better. And I don’t believe I should be expected to accept less.
Of course, this could just be me, although I don’t think so. Thanks for letting me rant, at least this one time. Hopefully, it was in a civilized and respectful manner.

By Mark R. Smith, Editor-in-Chief

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) has announced the 12 sites and sculptures selected for ARTsites 2017, an annual public art initiative in Howard County. The sculptures will be installed in August 2017 and will remain in place until July 2018 in an effort to engage the community and enhance public spaces. The sculptures will create visual anchor points and increase community access to the arts.

The ARTsites panel selected the host sites and narrowed down the artwork submissions to 36 finalists. The individual sites then selected the work to be installed at their location from among those finalists. The panel consisted of Randy Clay, Howard County Planning & Zoning; Julie Hughes-Jenkins, HCAC board member; Mary Kay Sigaty, Howard County Council; and Coleen West, HCAC.

The artwork and host sites selected include the following.

“Twisted Botanical Wave” by Mary Angers/Howard County Library System, Central Branch

“Celebration of Flight” by Carl Billingsley/Columbia Association

“Birdzels” by Mark Chatterley/Robinson Nature Center

“Elements” by Jeff Chyatte/Howard County Library System, Glenwood Branch

“Crescent” by Steven Durow/George Howard Building, Howard County Government

“Yellow Clown” by David Friedheim/AIDA Bistro, Corporate Office Properties Trust

“Popsicles” by Craig Gray/The Arc of Howard County

“Slices of Heaven” by Craig Gray/North Laurel Community Center

“Blue Planet” by Hanna Jubran/Howard Community College

“Light Cone” by Hanna Jubran/Howard County Public School System

“Rybee House II” by Stephen Klema/Howard County Tourism Welcome Center

“Celestial Trace” by Glenn Zweygardt/Howard County General Hospital

To learn more about HCAC exhibits and programs, visit hocoarts.org or call 410-313-ARTS (2787).

Business Briefs

Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox Opened to Boost National Security Companies
The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) has unveiled its Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox. It offers a menu of financing, a workforce development grant and business development consultations specifically aimed at assisting technology companies with gross revenue of less than $5 million and fewer than 100 employees.
To access the toolbox, businesses must be located in Anne Arundel County or have a signed lease demonstrating their intent to move into the county. AAEDC is investing $1.2 million to launch the program.
The signature component of the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox is the Next Stage Tech Fund. This financing program offers 0% loans from $50,000 to $250,000. Loans can be structured with flexible payment terms between one to five years to accommodate a company’s cash flow. Other components of the program include the following.
• Accessing AAEDC’s current workforce training grant program, which offers a reimbursable grant of up to $1,000 per employee; and
• Complimentary consultations with prominent experts in the fields of commercial technology marketing, federal contracting and intellectual property.
To connect businesses to the Toolbox, AAEDC hired Sarah Purdum, who has worked at the Cyber Incubator Manager for bwtech@UMBC Research Park and within the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Cyber Division, to serve as a Business Development Associate. Purdum will be focused on attracting, retaining and growing technology-focused companies to the county.

Kittleman Announces Tax
Credit Website
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced the creation of a new interactive web site called Tax Credit Central, designed to help homeowners determine eligibility and apply for one or more of the county’s residential tax credits.
From this redesigned page, www.taxcredits.howardcountymd.gov, homeowners can use the county’s new Credit Eligibility Calculator to determine if they qualify for the tax reduction, explore all available tax credits and download application forms and relevant information regarding the application and screening processes for each of these credits, all in one easy-to-use site.
When visiting the site, residents will be asked to answer basic questions, such as age and income. The calculator then directs residents to the credits for which they might qualify. The site contains a list of all residential and commercial tax credits the county offers. Kittleman has recently created or expanded seven tax credit programs, including new credits for seniors and retired military as well as a tax rebate for homeowners who regularly pump their septic systems.
Howard County currently offers many residential tax credits, including an Aging-in-Place Tax Credit, a Senior Tax Credit, a Livable Homes Tax Credit and a credit against Trash, Bay and Stormwater Fees.
In addition, the Maryland State Homeowners Tax Credit assists lower-income residents in paying their taxes. All residential credits in one way or another assist seniors, individuals with disabilities, retired military and other lower income homeowners by lessening their property tax bill. Information on commercial credits is also available on the site. For more information on Tax Credit Central, contact the county’s Tax Credit line at 410-313-4076.

Trio From Howard Garner EY Entrepreneur of the Year Maryland Awards
EY has announced the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Maryland, and the list includes three winners from Howard County. This group was selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous award winners, CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders; winners were cited at a gala on June 28 at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore.
The winners from Howard County include Howard Bank, Mary Ann Scully, Ellicott City; IntelliGenesis, Angie Lienert, Columbia; and WaveStrike, Anne Wagner and Mike Wagner, Annapolis Junction. The other Maryland winners include Greenspring Associates, Ashton Newhall, Owings Mills; and PANDORA Jewelry, Scott Burger; Union Craft Brewing, Adam Benesch; and Visual Connections, Frederick Deese, all from Baltimore.

Historic Ellicott City Cited in
Country Living
Main Street in Ellicott City is included in a list of 23 Best Small Town Main Streets in America that was recently published by Country Living Magazine. The local entry was ranked No. 17; the online write-up reads as follows.
“After recovering from a massive flood, Ellicott City has rebounded and rebuilt their Main Street, reaching vibrant new heights. Running parallel to the Tiber River and cutting straight through the historic district, it’s hard to decide where to start. Here are our picks: First, get your flow on at Main Street Yoga, which places a strong emphasis on sustainable and green initiatives. Then drool over the loot at Sweet Elizabeth Jane, a vintage-inspired lifestyle store named for the owner’s grandmother. If you need a pick-me-up, delight in Tea on the Tiber, a Victorian tea room serving up a traditional high tea experience.”

Acquisition of Evergreen Health Approved by MIA
The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) has approved the proposed acquisition of Evergreen Health by a group of investors, ensuring continued access to coverage for Evergreen Health’s 24,000 members.
The approval, marked by an official signing by MIA Commissioner Al Redmer at Evergreen Health’s offices, represented the final step in Evergreen Health’s transition from a nonprofit to a for-profit company. Representatives from the investor group, which is composed of JARS Health Investments, a group formed and funded by Maryland health care executives; Anne Arundel Health System; and LifeBridge Health, said they are enthusiastic about the future of the health insurer.
“This is an exciting day for Evergreen Health and the beginning of what now looks to be a very bright future. I have no doubt whatsoever that the infusion of resources and experience that our investors will bring to Evergreen will result in better and broader services for our members,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, CEO of Evergreen Health.

Maryland Among Six States With Largest Tech Workforces
While popular TV shows such as HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” and movies such as “The Social Network,” may make it seem like most tech jobs are in the San Francisco Bay Area, California doesn’t make the top ranks for the most U.S. tech workers per capita.
Massachusetts, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Minnesota and Maryland rank from 1 to 6 in terms of having the largest tech workforces per capita, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which was highlighted in a recent blog from the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Technology Association. These states’ most common tech jobs include software developers, management analysts, computer systems analysts and computer user support specialists.

DOC, bwtech@UMBC Open
Cyber Center
The Maryland Department of Commerce (DoC) and bwtech@UMBC Research & Technology Park have established an international cybersecurity center, iCyberCenter@bwtech. Gov. Larry Hogan made the announcement in an address to cyberindustry leaders and officials at the Houses of Parliament, in London, during the administration’s recent economic development and trade mission to Europe.
The center will provide an executive training session, a 12-month incubator program and other support to companies from the United Kingdom and other allied nations to help them establish a foothold in the U.S. market. It is anticipated that 10–15 companies will participate in the program annually, with a minimum of 100 permanent jobs created in the next several years.
Applications for the executive training session, scheduled for Sept. 11–15, are already being accepted by bwtech@UMBC. For additional information, visit www.bwtechumbc.com.

Howard County Executive
Responds to Hacking
After a cyberattack that hijacked the Howard County Government website on Sunday, June 25, county information technology (IT) staff took the website offline and worked overnight to restore it the next morning.
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman issued a statement thanking the public for its patience and reassured county residents that no data or personal information was compromised in the attack. “This website is on a public network hosted by a third party contractor and is completely separate from the Howard County Government network,” Kittleman said. “I am grateful for the quick response of the IT staff.”
Kittleman said the county will work with service providers and undertake an investigation to determine if any additional steps need to be taken to increase the website’s security. “Howard County Government is cooperating with federal law enforcement agencies and will have no additional comment while the investigation is underway,” he said.

Millennium, Client Honored by French Yacht Manufacturer
Annapolis Junction-based Millennium Marketing Solutions and client Atlantic Cruising Yachts received top honors for worldwide marketing and communications for 2017 from leading French yacht manufacturer Fountaine Pajot. The firm is the agency of record for the Annapolis yacht dealer, which also took home its fifth consecutive award for top North American dealer.
In April, Millennium President Janice Tippett was awarded the Enterprising Women of the Year award, an annual tribute to the world’s top women entrepreneurs.

Residential ‘Green’ Building Tax Credit Extended to 2022
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has signed legislation extending the tax credit for residential “high performance buildings” for another five years. Applications for this credit must be received prior to April 1, 2022. This effort encourages sustainable “green” building practices for new residential construction and remodeling projects.
“The residential High Performance Building Credit program has been successful in promoting sustainable building as 134 residents have purchased ‘green’ homes and received the tax credit,” said Kittleman. “In Howard County, we want to continue that momentum in a sustainable and economically viable way.”
Eligible residential buildings qualify for a tax credit not to exceed $5,000 per building, per year. This credit requires completion of nationally-recognized LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at the Silver level or higher from the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-government organization made up of industry experts, or an equivalent rating. Once approved, the credit ranges from 75% to 100% in the first year based on the level of certification and decreases in steps to a range of 19% to 25% over four years.
For more information, visit http://taxcredits.howardcountymd.gov and click on “Credits” for Residential and Commercial Properties, or call 410-313-4075.

Hogan Leads State Delegation to
Paris Air Show
Gov. Larry Hogan recently led a delegation of eight Maryland businesses at the 52nd Paris Air Show, the world’s largest aerospace industry event. State representatives manned a promotional booth at the week-long show, which kicked off Monday, June 19, at Le Bourget Airport. The governor and executive team met with many of the world’s top aerospace companies to promote the state’s aerospace industry and to actively recruit investments and jobs for Maryland before approximately 2,300 visitors.
The Maryland companies exhibiting at the event were ASTec Metalworks, Middle River; Applied Defense Solutions, Columbia; Jackson & Tull, Greenbelt; OCR Services, Rockville; Orbit Logic, Greenbelt; Planar Monolithics, Frederick; Tecore Networks, Hanover; and WGS Systems, Frederick. The majority of the companies attending received an ExportMD grant from Maryland Commerce to help offset the cost of exhibiting at the show.
Following the Paris Air Show, Hogan, Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Gill and senior members of the administration traveled to London for a series of economic development meetings with international companies poised to establish or grow operations in Maryland.

Merkle Becomes a DoubleClick Certified Marketing Partner
Columbia-based Merkle has become one of DoubleClick’s Certified Marketing Partners. DoubleClick’s Marketing Partner program features some of the top digital marketing experts in the industry, all of whom are vetted to meet its qualification standards.
The certification touts Merkle as a digital marketing expert and trusted business partner that helps advertisers succeed within the DoubleClick platform. In the U.K., Merkle/Periscopix is also a Certified Marketing Partner for DoubleClick Search, Bid Manager and Campaign Manager, as well as for data and measurement, and for implementation and media management.

Hogan Joins DoC for Midlands Engine Signing Ceremony
Gov. Larry Hogan joined the Maryland Department of Commerce (DoC) and Midlands Engine for a ceremony during which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to strengthen the relationship between Maryland, the center of research and innovation in cybersecurity in the U.S., and the Midlands region, a premier cybersecurity cluster in the United Kingdom. The agreement was signed during the governor’s recent trade mission.
The MOU is designed to promote economic development, assist cybersecurity companies in Maryland and the Midlands, and attract investments in each. As part of the agreement, an exchange program will be developed by which U.K. cyber companies will visit Maryland to explore the U.S. market and to establish or increase a presence in the U.S.; Maryland cyber companies will visit the Midlands region for similar purposes.
In June, Ken McCreedy, managing director of cybersecurity and aerospace for the DoC, led a delegation of Maryland cybercompanies to the INFOSEC Europe, in London. The group also traveled to the Midlands region, where they met with 70 U.K. companies to identify ways in which they could collaborate. The MOU is for a period of three years, and can be renewed by both parties.

Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate Ranked No. 1 in Nation
The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate, of Clarksville, was ranked first in the nation for the third time based on sales volume, according to REAL Trends, a provider of statistical analysis for the residential real estate industry, in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Northrop’s team also received the nation’s top-ranking position in 2010 and 2011, and the latest award marks the first time any real estate team has achieved the top ranking three times.
The Northrop Team earned a sales volume of $765,479,027, with 1,772 completed transaction sides in 2016. This year’s award also marks the 11th consecutive year for the team achieving the ranking of No.1 Real Estate Team in Maryland.
The Northrop Team’s ranking is part of REAL Trends The Thousand, which was developed jointly by The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends and compiles rankings based on surveys of previous applicants, as well as more than 900 of the largest United States brokerage firms. An independent third party verifies all submissions, and staff from REAL Trends also reviews these submissions for accuracy.

Newberry Group Acquires Ellicott City-Based Line of Sight
The Newberry Group, an employee-owned information technology consulting and cybersecurity firm based in St. Peters, Mo., with its operational headquarters in Howard County, has announced the acquisition of Line of Sight, an Ellicott City firm with expertise in project management, organizational change and business process improvement services. The move supports the Newberry Group’s ongoing expansion, as the combined firm has more than 100 employees serving clients from Maryland to Hawaii.
“When I started Line of Sight 12 years ago, two of my goals included becoming an employee-owned company and achieving a 50-50 split serving government and commercial clients. Joining the Newberry Group accomplished both goals overnight,” said Line of Sight’s Founder Jon Weinstein, who will join Newberry as the executive director for the new division and is also chair of the Howard County Council.

St. John Center Dedicated at UMD
The University of Maryland (UMD) recently dedicated the new Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center, named for Baltimore-based developer, philanthropist and 1961 alumnus Ed St. John, founder and chairman of St. John Properties, who donated $10 million toward the building’s construction. The 187,000-square-foot space, which includes 12 classrooms and nine teaching labs with a total of 1,500 seats, is designed to elevate the culture of collaborative learning on campus.
Focused on a student-centered approach to learning and teaching, the center features labs, informal study spaces, group study rooms and technology-enhanced TERP (Teach, Engage, Respond and Participate) Classrooms with flexibility, such as tiered seating, mobile desks and swiveling chairs that encourage active learning and collaboration. Other unique features include four food spaces and two green roofs, one of which is intended for instructional use.

Kocide Acquires DuPont Copper Fungicide Facility
Columbia-based Kocide LLC has completed its acquisition of a state-of-the-art copper fungicide production facility in Houston, Texas, from E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. The acquisition of the facility began Dec. 1, 2014, when Mitsui & Co., acquired DuPont’s Kocide and ManKocide copper fungicide assets for Kocide Mitsui’s wholly owned subsidiary, to manage the assets.
“We now control the production of our products from raw ingredient to finished goods, which ensures our customers receive the highest quality copper based fungicide/bactericide products on the market,” said Glen Johnson, Kocide president and CEO. “Additionally, we are benefiting from the transfer of manufacturing knowledge and product innovation between Kocide LLC and Spiess Urania, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsui, which manufactures and markets leading copper fungicide brands across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”

Holistic Industries Raises More Than $8M in Convertible Debt Offering
Holistic Industries, the only company in Maryland awarded license pre-approval for growing medical cannabis in Prince George’s County, has announced the closing of more than $8 million in investments in a private convertible debt offering.
In 2016, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced that Holistic was awarded license pre-approvals for growing, processing and dispensing medical cannabis in the state. Holistic is the only grower selected to operate in Prince George’s County and is one of the few companies to be awarded preliminary approval for vertically integrated medical cannabis operations in the state of Maryland. Holistic is planning for medical cannabis product lines to come online in late fall.

BPW Approves New Ride-Sharing Operation for BWI Marshall Airport
The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved contracts to authorize Transportation Network Companies (or TNCs) to provide ground transportation services at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The contracts authorize two TNCs, Lyft and Uber, to pick up and drop off customers at BWI Marshall.
The contracts establish a mechanism for Lyft and Uber to operate at the airport. Upon full implementation, passengers will be able to request rides to and from BWI Marshall with the rideshare services. The airport will work with the companies to create designated zones for passenger pick-up and drop-off. TNC technologies allow users to hail a ride via smartphone apps.

Carrier Adds Two Markets at
BWI Marshall
Southern Airways Express will add new service between BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and two cities: Johnstown, Pa., and Morgantown, W.Va. Two daily round-trip flights to Johnstown are scheduled to begin on July 17, and three daily round-trip flights to Morgantown are scheduled to start on July 31. The new service will be the fifth and sixth markets for the airline at BWI Marshall.
Southern Airways currently offers nine daily round-trip flights at BWI Marshall Airport to four destinations: Hagerstown; and Altoona, Lancaster and DuBois, Pa. The airline started service at BWI Marshall in November 2016. The flights are offered on the airline’s nine-seat Cessna Caravan aircraft.

D.C. Firm Makes Initial Move Into BWI Business District
Feldman Bergin Development, in partnership with Kenwood Management Co., has acquired 1334 Ashton Road, a single-story, 38,000-square-foot flex/office building in the Hanover section of Anne Arundel County for $2.3 million. This represents the inaugural project for Washington, D.C.- based Feldman Bergin, a new entity founded last November by Evan Feldman, formerly with Archstone-Smith and Washington Property Company, and Robert Bergin, who was previously associated with Corporate Office Properties Trust.
“We believe the economic drivers contained within this region, led by BWI [Thurgood Marshall] Airport, the presence of the federal government and a diverse business climate, will enable us to quickly accelerate the leasing of 1334 Ashton Road,” said Robert Bergin, co-founder and principal of Feldman Bergin Development. “Our team continues to scour the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia region searching for our next value-add opportunity.”

New Obrycki’s Concept Offers Made-to-Order Seafood
The new R&R Seafood Bar is now open in the D/E connector at the AIRMALL at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. This spinoff from the award-winning Obrycki’s offers travelers a fresh dining experience, complete with raw bar and a made-to-order menu featuring Maryland seafood.
The menu features a selection of starters, salads, sandwiches and sides, along with breakfast offerings like the Crab Omelette; the raw bar offers a lineup that includes fresh-shucked oysters, little neck clams and steamed seasoned shrimp. R&R also serves the Crabby Mary, its signature house drink, made with Absolut Peppar vodka in a glass rimmed with Obrycki’s spicy seafood seasoning and garnished with a crab claw.

Dimensions Healthcare Board Agrees To UMMS Merger
The Dimensions Healthcare System (DHS) Board of Directors voted unanimously earlier this month to approve a Definitive Agreement by which Dimensions will become an affiliate of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).
According to a statement released by Dimensions, UMMS directors are expected to review and vote on the Definitive Agreement to become the sole corporate member of DHS over the summer. Upon approval by the UMMS board, the parties will work toward completion of several legal, regulatory, financial and transactional details required to complete the transition of ownership.

New Director for Economic, Community Development in Laurel
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe has announced the appointment of Christian Pulley as director of economic and community development for the city. She has served as acting director since Jack Brock resigned earlier this year.
As director, Pulley is responsible for zoning compliance, subdivision and development review, historic preservation review, economic development, affordable housing and implementation of the city’s Master Plan. Pulley has been employed with the City of Laurel since 2008 and previously held positions as a planner, then senior planner.
Prior to joining the city government, Pulley worked as an outreach associate with the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in Washington, D.C. She worked with coalition members in 16 states and in the District of Columbia on housing policy and membership matters, and was involved with the organization’s Voterization Campaign and National Housing Trust Fund Campaign.

Certis USA Acquires LAM International
The Columbia-based biopesticide company Certis USA has acquired 100% of the shares of Butte, Mont.-based LAM International. LAM is a developer and manufacturer of several leading bioinsecticide products, including Botanigard and Mycotrol, and has a pipeline of newly registered products and others currently under registration and development; it also has a state-of-the-art solid fermentation production facility that complements the Certis USA liquid fermentation production facility in Wasco, Calif.
LAM International will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Certis USA, with Luis Mazariegos, founder and CEO of LAM, now serving as a consultant for Certis USA. “The addition of the LAM solid fermentation production facility significantly expands Certis USA’s capabilities for biological product development,” said Jow-Lih Su, CEO of Certis USA. “Having both solid and liquid fermentation technology platforms allows us to commercialize more new and innovative biological pest control products worldwide.”

Arundel Mills Welcomes Under Armour Factory House
Under Armour officially opened the doors of its new Factory House location at Arundel Mills. The 8,500-square-foot store will feature the brand’s signature performance gear.
The addition of Under Armour is just one of the new-to-the-market retail tenants to join Arundel Mills this season. Expanded retail options, new food concepts and a redesigned food pavilion, central to the mall’s extensive transformation, also soon will debut.

Franchot Presents Howard’s Bright Lights Award to Victoria Restaurant Group
Maryland Comptroller Franchot presented the Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Howard County to Victoria Restaurant Group at Manor Hill Farm in Ellicott City. The group, operated by Randy Marriner and his family, is composed of Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia; Manor Hill Brewing; Manor Hill Tavern, Historic Ellicott City; and Food Plenty, which is scheduled to open in Clarksville later this year.
The Bright Lights Award recognizes innovation in the private and nonprofit sectors that strengthens Maryland’s economy, generates jobs and tax revenue, and develops new ideas that more effectively deliver services and products within the marketplace.

PrideStaff Expands With Office for Fort Meade-Bowie
PrideStaff, a national, franchised staffing organization, has opened a new staffing and employment agency to serve the Fort Meade-Bowie area. The new office will offer a full range of staffing and employment services in a variety of professional and light industrial disciplines.
According to Inavero, a business intelligence firm specializing in the staffing industry, PrideStaff earned a client Net Promoter Score (NPS) as high as (or higher) than other well-known brands, such as Southwest Airlines and Netflix. NPS is computed by subtracting a firm’s detractors from its promoters.

CAC Presenting Whitehead Exhibition
The Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC) is presenting an exhibition of works featuring Christopher Whitehead. The exhibit will run in the Hal Gomer Gallery located at the CAC, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, through July 31. A free reception will take place on Friday, July 14, from 6–8 p.m. The exhibit features paintings and mixed-media pieces from the artist.
Whitehead is classically trained and primarily works painting, illustration and alternative media. His work focuses on the human form and the art is used to illustrate personal narratives and concepts. He has taught art in public schools in California and Maryland.

Wegmans Partners With Instacart, Launches Same-Day Delivery
Instacart, the technology-driven, nationwide on-demand grocery delivery service, has announced an exclusive partnership with Wegmans Food Markets that enables the supermarket’s customers to complete their grocery shopping online, and have their orders delivered to their doors in as little as an hour. The new service is currently available at the Alexandria, Fairfax, Dulles and Leesburg stores in Virginia; and at the Columbia, Hunt Valley, Owings Mills, Crofton, Woodmore and Germantown stores in Maryland.
With the new service, Wegmans customers can fill their virtual carts with their orders by visiting instacart.wegmans.com or downloading the Instacart App. At check-out, customers can add their Wegmans Shoppers Club number to receive available discounts, and choose a delivery window within one hour, two hours, or up to seven days in advance.

EverSafe Selected for CFSI Financial Solutions Lab’s 2017 Class
The Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding lab partner JPMorgan Chase & Co. recently selected EverSafe, of Columbia, for its next class of fintech innovators.
EverSafe, a fraud monitoring platform that focuses on the financial health of seniors and their families, uses artificial intelligence to detect scams, identity theft and age-related issues. The platform then alerts seniors and their family members to suspicious activity. EverSafe was among eight companies selected from more than 300 applicants for the highly competitive program.

Howard Bancorp Added to the Russell 2000 Stock Index
Ellicott City-based Howard Bancorp, the parent company of Howard Bank, has been named to the Russell 2000 stock index. The listing on the Russell 2000, which measures the performance of 2,000 small-cap companies in the United States, recognizes the growth in Howard Bancorp’s market capitalization — total shares outstanding, multiplied by its current stock price — which climbed to nearly $185 million on May 31, up 75% since the beginning of the year, and its stock price has risen 25% during the same period.
“The listing on the Russell 2000 index reflects the increased value of the market capital levels we have attained in support of our consistently  executed regional growth strategy to be the go-to commercial bank in greater Baltimore,” said Mary Ann Scully, president and CEO of Howard Bancorp. “But even more important than what it reflects about our history, positive market reception is the value it provides to shareholders of our currency.  Additional visibility, access and liquidity often accompany inclusion in the Russell 2000.”

Two Howard Companies Garner
Export Grants
The Maryland Department of Commerce has awarded 12 small and mid-sized Maryland companies with ExportMD grants — including Atlantic Data Forensics and Tecore Networks, of Howard County — to help promote their products and services in the global marketplace. The program helps businesses finance the costs of marketing internationally, including trade show fees, brochures and travel expenses.
“Creating more jobs and opportunities for Marylanders is one of our administration’s top priorities, and the ExportMD program is a perfect example of how partnership with our small and mid-sized businesses can help us fulfill this goal,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “Through this innovative program, we have been able to connect companies in every region of our state with global partners, helping to boost their sales, grow their operations and ultimately bring new economic development opportunities to Maryland.”

State Resurfacing Two of Howard’s Main Arteries
The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is resurfacing U.S. 40 (Baltimore National Pike) between U.S. 29 (Columbia Pike) and the Baltimore County Line in Ellicott City. Weather permitting, the $2.3 million project will be complete by early fall. The road was last resurfaced in 2000. Approximately 47,000 vehicles use this section of U.S. 40 each day, so motorists should plan extra travel time during project work hours.
Also, crews are resurfacing more than three miles of U.S. 1 (Washington Boulevard) between Route 103A (Montgomery Road) and Kit Kat Road, in Elkridge. MDOT SHA awarded the $3 million project to C.J. Miller, of Hampstead. The project will be complete by late fall, weather permitting. Last resurfaced 30 years ago, U.S. 1 needs new pavement and pavement markings. Approximately 35,000 vehicles travel on this section of U.S. 1 each day. Crews will work 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sundays through Friday mornings to minimize delays.

Luxberg Jewelers Opens in Linthicum Heights
Combining fine jewelry with fine art, Luxberg Jewelers has opened in the Stavlas Shopping Center, at South Camp Meade Road, Linthicum Heights. Brad Bergersen, a local entrepreneur with more than 15 years in the jewelry industry and experience building startups, created Luxberg to be “an experience for jewelry lovers and art aficionados alike.”
Following investments of $50,000 in construction renovations and $300,000 in merchandise, Bergersen has transformed a former Hair Cuttery site into an art deco jewelry store/art emporium. The 1,400-square-foot space now features white walls adorned with art, a chandelier overlooking the jewelry displays and a user-friendly tech area for online searches.

Chen Featured at Artists’ Gallery
Artists’ Gallery, in Ellicott City, will showcase the seasonal variations in the beauty of flowers, birds and landscapes during July through the Chinese watercolor paintings of renowned Laurel-based artist Jing-Jy Chen. The show will run until July 30, with an opening reception, on Sunday, July 9, from 2–5 p.m. at the gallery, located at 8197 Main Street.
Chen was born in Tainan, Taiwan. Most of her painting techniques are watercolor on rice paper in free-hand style, while some are on silk in “Gong Bi” style, a style characterized by fine brush works and close attention to details. She is a regular participant in the Artist-in-Residence program in Maryland schools.

BHC Recognized for Health Care Marketing
Bonnie Heneson Communications (BHC) has received silver and bronze Aster Awards recognizing excellence in health care marketing in 2016. BHC’s silver Aster Award recognizes the agency’s advertising campaign created for Calvert County Substance Abuse Services. The advertising campaign generated awareness about prescription drug misuse and the dangers of opiate use. As part of the campaign, BHC developed a graphic identity and media advertisements for billboards, movie screens, television and radio.
BHC’s bronze Aster Award recognizes an issue of Wellness Matters, a quarterly magazine the agency produced for Howard County General Hospital. The award-winning issue highlighted the story of a battalion chief with Howard County Fire and Rescue Services who had a heart attack and discussed what to do in the event of chest pain. The publication is distributed to more than 200,000 residents of Howard County and surrounding areas.