Archived Articles: September 2017

Local Breweries Tap Into Tourism

By George Berkheimer, Senior Writer

Hardly anyone walks a mile for a Camel anymore, but enter any of Howard County’s craft brewery taprooms and there’s a good chance some of the visitors may hail from another region, if not out of state.
It seems there’s something magnetic about brewpubs, something that compels those with an appreciation for craft beer to visit the source and enjoy the freshest brews possible only a few feet from where they were made.
That quirk — if it can be labeled a quirk — lies at the heart of the growth that the small-scale brewing industry is currently experiencing.
As a result, brewing has outgrown the confines of its consumer product category to become an engine for tourism and economic growth.
“The craft brewing attraction is a core focus for us in marketing the county,” said Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion’s Director of Tourism Development Amanda Hof. “We’re running an aggressive multi-state advertising campaign around it through February, and it’s something we’ll be paying attention to for the foreseeable future as the industry continues to grow.”

Six and Counting
Six breweries currently call Howard County home. These include Ellicott Mills Brewing Company and Manor Hill Brewing of Ellicott City; Black Flag Brewing Company, Hysteria Brewing Company and Push American Brewing Company of Columbia; and Jailbreak Brewing Company in North Laurel.
Other craft beer havens include Rams Head Tavern in Savage and Columbia’s Ale House, which recently have been joined by the OC Brewing Company’s tap house at the Gateway Overlook shopping center in Elkridge.
It hasn’t been lost on Hof and her colleagues that brewery visitors from outside the region don’t limit their time — or spending — to the taprooms they visit.
“They go shopping, they dine in one of our restaurants, sometimes they stay overnight and take in a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion,” she said. “There’s a shared benefit.”
Since 2015, the Tourism office’s Howard On Tap smartphone application has helped beer lovers discover breweries in and around the county, and offers a reward for visiting them all.
The next step, Hof said, is to upgrade digital and social media marketing ads to help determine when a random click of interest converts to a hotel stay.
“We know our app has had thousands of downloads since we introduced it, and that URL is among our top web pages that get views,” she said. “We don’t know how much economic impact it generates, so this is something we can do to gather metrics and start understanding that relationship.”

Variety of Styles
Each brewery in Howard County has a unique focus, producing flagship brews as well as the occasional one-off experimental batch.
Manor Hill, for example, specializes in sour beers, while Jailbreak brews feature culinary-inspired flavor profiles intended to be paired with equally flavorful foods.
Ellicott Mills is known for its mastery of German styles, Black Flag concentrates on flavors and aromas without getting too weighed down by the artificial constraints of categories, and Push riffs on what it terms “honest and eccentric” craft beer, with a heavy nod to India Pale Ales.
“We’re experimenting with finishing our beer in red wine barrels and bourbon barrels, allowing it time to take on some of the complex flavors that can be found in the wood,” said Hysteria Spokesman Zachary Michel. “We’re looking to explore lots of different styles, with an allusion to the mad scientists of yore and their turn-of-the-century experimentation.”
Tourists and locals can discover just how extensive Howard County’s brewing scene is on Sept. 30 at the second annual Hops & Harvest Festival at the Columbia Lakefront, which features most of the county’s brewers, as well as other Maryland producers.
“We’re positioned to grow this event to a two-day festival and are hoping to move the venue to Merriweather Post Pavilion in the future,” Hof said.

The Beer Bus
Maryland Brewery Tours, launched in July by Chad D’Amore, founder of the Columbia-based CoFestCo events production company, makes it easy, not to mention much safer, to visit multiple Howard County breweries in one day.
“We offer tours on the first and third Saturday of each month,” D’Amore said. “We’re probably going to have to step that up already, because there’s a large demand for this service.”
Patrons begin and end the chartered bus tours at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, which partners with D’Amore to offer free parking and discounted lodging to tourgoers. The five-hour tour includes an hour and a complimentary tasting at each brewery, with tours of the operations at each stop.
“We’re planning to expand offerings to include different routes and get other breweries involved in some of the outlying counties,” D’Amore said. “We’re already fielding requests for private birthday and bachelor parties as well.”
Impromptu surveys of his inaugural tours reflected about 60% of participants coming from Howard County, he added, with 30% coming from elsewhere in Maryland and the remainder coming from out of state.
“We’re really happy to be a partner on the tours,” said Black Flag Founder Brian Gaylor. “The people it brings in are really interested in what we’re doing, and they spread word-of-mouth advertising that helps more people discover the breweries here.”

Meeting Demand
The growth in demand and custom has prompted some of the existing breweries to accelerate their own plans for expansion.
At Jailbreak, the owners are installing a 2,000-square-foot kitchen that will offer upscale casual food and sharable appetizers.
“The restaurant should be up and running by December,” said Co-Founder Kasey Turner. “There is no outdoor seating at the moment, but we hope to add it in the future.”
“Aside from the bus tours, we use online registration for our weekend farm brewery tours because we’re limited in the number of people we can accommodate,” said Manor Hill Owner Randy Marriner.
Nevertheless, the seasonal and locally sourced menu that highlights the farm beers served at his Manor Hill Tavern in Ellicott City has been so well received that the family is looking to expand and more than double the tavern’s kitchen space to accommodate private events.
Two other family-owned venues — Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia and Food Plenty, slated to open in Clarksville this fall — also serve as outlets for Manor Hill’s beers.
Push, occupying a small brewing space in the corner of Columbia’s Frisco Taphouse, recently announced plans to open a full production brewery facility next door to the restaurant by the end of this year.

Sense of Community
Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Brewers Association of Maryland, noted that the proximity of so many breweries in Howard County has created a sense of community that has fostered collaboration and cooperation among brewers rather than fierce competition.
“I’m not sure how to gauge an impending saturation point in Howard County,” Atticks said. “Those operating now are selling everything they can make, and there appears to be enough demand to comfortably allow for the addition of new breweries.”
In the state of Maryland, he said, the metrics indicate a roughly $946 million impact from sales taxes, jobs and ancillary business tied to the brewing industry.
“Howard County has made itself an attractive, helpful and inviting place for brewing,” Atticks said. “Brewers like it because it’s located between major metropolitan areas, it has the zoning they need, and it has promoted a wonderful quality of life that attracts people looking for things to do.”

Not Taxed: Airbnb (Usually) Not Paying, Still Playing


The view from atop the area’s tourism industry is looking pretty bright these days.

At the local tourism offices, Connie Del Signore is feeling good about the current 78% occupancy rate for hotels in Anne Arundel County; in Howard County that emotion is shared by Anthony Cordo, with that number hitting 75%.

Lou Zagarino and Amy Rohrer, two other veterans of Maryland’s hotel industry, are also gazing at that warm glow on the horizon, knowing that the taxes the industry generates on those various room rates are reinforcing the strength of the market while providing an assist with other civic improvements.

That’s all well and good, but there’s still an issue.

They, among a host of other industry insiders, are wondering just how much more tax revenue would be generated if companies in the home occupancy sector of the business, like Home Away, VRBO, Slip Key and particularly Airbnb, paid taxes. Just like the hotels and bed and breakfasts are required to, by law.

A bill that was spearheaded by Sen. John Astle was presented during the 2017 session that would have addressed the issue statewide, but it never got out of committee — despite input from executives from Airbnb that indicated they were behind it (more on that later).

There are also concerns in some quarters about how the lack of governmental regulations for such companies could affect the safety of its clientele.

Market Dictates

Zagarino, a long-time BWI-area hotelier who now serves as chair of the Government Affairs and Advocacy Committee with Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC), said a given individual’s perspective on Airbnb depends on “what side of the fence you’re on.

“If you’re a tourist, Airbnb gives you another option. That’s a big deal when the major hotels can charge around $500 a night during peak seasons, and more during an event like the [Annapolis] boat shows,” said Zagarino, “and I have no doubt that we get more tourists due to Airbnb; in some markets, I think its presence actually increases demand and gives [potential visitors] opportunities” to rent a room.

But if you work in or operate a property that pays taxes next door to an Airbnb property, he said, you’re not feeling that sense of empowerment. You have some legitimate questions.

“There are about 2,000 Airbnb rooms in Annapolis,” Zagarino said, “so if they’re running 50%, that gives you an idea of how many more rooms are being occupied that STR [formerly Smith Travel Research, a Nashville-based company that tracks data for multiple market sectors, including the global hotel industry] doesn’t have data for.

“Then if you multiply that figure by 365 days,” he said, “that’s a considerable amount of tax revenue that Anne Arundel County and the VAAAC have lost.”

The Bill Died

It’s from that financial point of view, Zagarino said, that observers must consider the competitive disadvantage the hotels and the bed and breakfasts experience when Airbnb doesn’t have to pay any taxes or fees.
“That has some of the B&Bs saying, ‘The heck with regulations and licensing,’ and becoming Airbnbs, too,” he said.

That fact is even more glaring because STR’s recent occupancy figures, as strong as they are, “indicate that our booking rates are slightly down the past couple of years,” Zagarino said, “but they’re not accurate, because the Airbnb rooms are not reported within their figures.

“So,” Zagarino said, “we’re not getting a complete picture.”
Del Signore, the president and CEO for the VAAAC, echoed Zagarino’s observations. She said she’s “thrilled to have as many options for travelers as possible,” but that it was “very unfortunate” that Sen. John Astle’s aforementioned bill — “that everyone was in favor of, including Airbnb, which testified on our behalf” — never got out of committee.
“We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money because legislators thought it was a new tax,” Del Signore said, adding that there “will be no new bill” during the 2018 session “because we think it’ll die.”
So, what to do before the 2018 legislative session? Del Signore said the VAAAC will work with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, representatives from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and Tourism, and others, to educate legislators on the effects of Airbnb not paying any taxes or fees.

What They Say/Do

What Del Signore said about Airbnb offering to pay taxes and supporting the bill is interesting, because representatives of “Airbnb will often say that they want to pay hotel taxes,” said Amy Rohrer, president and CEO of the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association, “but what we’ve seen is that [the company] is only willing to do so on its own terms.

“They set the rules, then submit what they like. That’s not transparent,” Rohrer said. “What are they trying to hide?”

Rohrer cited a study commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by CBRE that revealed “that only 20%” of Airbnb’s revenue “is coming from true homesharing, where the owner is present during the stay; 32% comes from unit operators that operate two or more residences.”

In Maryland, Airbnb only pays taxes in Montgomery County, where it participates in a voluntary program. “There are about 200 such situations nationwide,” she said.

That set of circumstances is hardly unnoticed around the industry.
“I think Airbnb is unique among [homesharing] companies in that they are not averse to paying taxes,” said Troy Flanagan, vice president of state and local government affairs for the AHLA, adding that the other companies in that sector are more advertising platforms.

“The distinction and concern here,” said Flanagan, “is that Airbnb wants to pay taxes on its own terms, meaning how they collect and then remit in taxes and fees. They have also cut deals in Washington, D.C., and in [many] jurisdictions around the country,” Flanagan said, “but many other deals have not seen the light of day.”

That’s because Airbnb “wants to pay taxes on an honor system — without having to provide the data to show that they are actually paying the right amount as any other business, like our members, would have to do,” he said.

Taking that route, said Flanagan, is “very opaque and very unique to that one company. The concern is that it’s not good policy for a jurisdiction to just take the money and run, without considering the impact of unchecked short-term rentals on its community. We hope the Maryland legislature will revisit this topic during the next session and take a comprehensive approach to short-term rentals and not be distracted by the revenue.”

Michael Coveyou, ­chief of the Division of Treasury with the Montgomery County government, said that the jurisdiction has “a legal agreement with Airbnb that [the company is] to pay taxes, but we cannot speak publicly about it due to the terms of the agreement.”

Airbnb was contacted five times for more than a week for comment for this story, but its public relations department and Public Policy Director Will Burns did not respond by press time.

Safety First

Aside from the tax issue, Airbnb properties do not always follow legal parameters when it comes to renting the rooms. Airbnb does offer its guidelines to homeowners, but there is virtually no enforcement.
“Guests of Airbnb should also have a way to verify health and safety standards, as should neighbors,” Rohrer said. “[Local residents] may have no idea if they’re living next to an Airbnb property, which is a revolving door of strangers living next door. And [they might not] know who’s listing the property, so there is no way for a neighbor to contact the owner if there is a problem.”

“Airbnb is still like the wild west,” Zagarino said. “When it comes to life safety issues, egress, utilities, windows, etc., they don’t really have any regulations. You can’t open a hotel like that, with no permits.”

His concerns include the use of and return of keys. “[Airbnb clients] don’t need to bring them back,” he said, “so let’s say I check in tomorrow, but the prior renter can still come in while I’m there. That’s why we have electronic cards today. The electronic keys are reset.”

That is one scenario in this scene that is slightly different in Howard County, said Anthony Cordo, executive director with Howard County Tourism.

“Howard County does have regulations in place that cover the security and safety side of the rentals, which is covered by the same laws that protect people who rent their homes out to people for a year, for instance,” Cordo said.

Still, the tax and fee money isn’t being collected from Airbnb for short-term rentals in Howard County, either. That’s for two reasons, Cordo said, one that concerns the county’s threshold of number of rooms in a short-term rental to make a property taxable, and the second because Airbnb simply does not remit that tax.

“If the 100 Airbnbs in Howard County don’t have enough rooms (which is about five) to tax the property in the first place, that’s not an avoidance,” he said. “However, they should be paying that tax.”

Thumb’s Up

While the rise of Airbnb has left plenty of questions to answer, the general overview is that, overall, it offers a great option for travelers that will eventually be presented on an even playing field.

“There are lots of good things, but this submarket is very much a work in progress,” said Zagarino. “Some [jurisdictions] are very organized” when it comes to accommodating Airbnb; “some are not doing anything. We’re kind of in the middle. People need to be enlightened to the pros and cons of the service.

“My issue now isn’t the money as much as the safety,” he said. “It seems to be completely ignored. I ran hotels for 40 years, and I slept with one eye open all that time. I was always concerned about something happening.”

Cordo concurred. “We have nothing against them. It’s a growing population, the building owners enjoy” the opportunity to make money; but on the flip side, you don’t want your hotels to get beaten up because the playing field isn’t level.

“We don’t want to crush that industry,” he said, “but we want to find a way to make this work on both sides.”

New Flood Mitigation Plan Announced


It’s been more than a year.

For people who live and work in Howard County and its surrounds, that’s all that needs to be said.

They know that simple statement refers to the night of July 30, 2016, and the infamous Ellicott City Main Street flash flood. It was caused by six inches of rain in two hours, left two people dead and brought business, and life as the locals know it, to a halt for most of the next year.

Today, many of the necessary repairs have been made, some even ahead of schedule due to the storm. Businesses that returned are up and running, and many of the residents, workers and usual visitors are back on the street.

There is even said to be considerable activity concerning buying and leasing real estate on and around historic Main Street ­— where Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman recently announced an $18 million initiative to build four major flood mitigation projects (see sidebar) and presented County Councilman Jon Weinstein with a check for $50,000 for the One EC Recovery project.

While a recovery that was facilitated by the government and a great deal of community spirit are great things, the moods of Mother Nature will remain unpredictable and, given history and the effects of global warming, what happens next, and the ability of the community to withstand it, is up for ample discussion.

Funding Boost

Even before the flood, there were upgrades in the works to the stream walls along Main Street.

“We were making sure they were clear of debris,” said Mark DeLuca, deputy director for the Howard County Department of Public Works (DPW). “That $18 million budget [for the first four projects] is mainly a result of the flood and had not been planned for the next budget.”

DeLuca said that DPW “also had some design money in its fiscal 2018 budget [which was developed after the flood]” that totaled $2 million and can “be used for design and beginning of construction, so we can hit the ground running.

“So, we’re moving forward,” he said, “but without the extra $2 million in the current budget, we couldn’t have started the design. By the time we finish the four designs, we would not be ready to build before July 2018, anyway.”

So, the county is “moving ahead as best we can,” said DeLuca. “The United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration provide us with the rain data. When their values go up, ours do too. So, we have gone from 7.4 inches per 24 hours for a 100-year storm last August up to 8.5 inches in 24 hours. That’s one example. So, all of the new projects will use that equation for the foreseeable future.

“We’d love to have all of the money at once, but that’s not how it works,” he said, “and no one can predict the weather, just as no one can say for certain if [last summer’s] 100-year storm will precede a megatrend.”

The Tech View

Key to the preparation for the $18 million in upgrades was the study conducted by civil engineering firm McCormick Taylor. Chris Brooks, senior water resources engineer at the firm’s Baltimore office, said the details of its Hydraulic and Hydrologic Study of Ellicott City (which can be found on the county’s web site) are “too voluminous” to summarize for a short quote.

But Brooks did offer, however, that “the effort necessary to accomplish substantial reductions in flood frequency and depth will require significant time and resources.”

As for what makes the lay of the land in Ellicott City different from other areas in the region, he added that, “The urbanized hydrology of the Tiber-Hudson Watershed is fairly common in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. However, the construction of the historic downtown area, on top of the stream and its floodplain, presents unique challenges from a hydraulic perspective.

“The combination of many older buildings directly straddling the sinuous stream channel, the complete lack of floodplain in many areas and the steepness of the well-developed terrain, combined with the urbanization upstream,” he said, “is not typical of other areas we’ve previously studied in Central Maryland.”

What Ned Said

Those unique circumstances and the early funding for a project are preceeding what will be years of work to make the Main Street area as flood resistant as possible. Ned Tillman, local businessman and past chair of the Howard County General Plan Task Force, said mitigation projects are just a “start on how to deal with a very unfortunate and complex problem.

“We could easily spend $100 million in engineering solutions and not solve the problems of this ill-sited town,” he said, adding, “and of course Ellicott City is not the only place that floods in this county.”
Therefore, Tillman said, “it’s time that we got real and talk about the root causes of this and other tragedies. We can no longer just think in terms of being reactive and trying to adapt to these increasingly common big storms that we have been experiencing.”

What is needed, he said, was “to get at the cause of the problem.
“The warming atmosphere is the culprit that we need to discuss. The warming is a local and a global problem [that will] require local and global solutions,” Tillman said. “We here in Howard County need to commit an equal amount of effort to preventing these big storms. Otherwise, we will just be playing a game of whack-a-mole.”

He said that, like towns all around the world, local residents “need to beef up efforts at getting governments, businesses and the citizens working together to slow down the warming.”

On that front, there is some good news.

“Our local government, many of our local businesses and an increasing number of our citizens are actively taking steps to reduce the warming,” he said, “but we need more leadership on this specific issue and more collaboration from all sectors of our county. Every individual, business and government that does nothing hurts the rest of us and hurts future generations living not only in old Ellicott City, but across the whole county and beyond.”

Today, Tillman said, these initial moves by Howard County are solid. “I think this is a good step, but I think we have to go after the root cause which is global, through study. It will flood again.”

Tillman and Weinstein are together on this approach. “I agree with Ned. The severity of the storms that are hitting our area are a result of global warming,” Weinstein said, who noted part of what facilitated the tragedy last August. “The water that rushes down through town had to turn left or right; but if it’s fast enough or high enough, it’ll knock you over,” he said, “so you want it to come straight through.”

Interestingly, a flood mitigation work group was commissioned by him and Kittleman right after they were elected in late 2014.
“Some of these ideas for projects started” before what he called the “horrible opportunity” that was provided by the flood.

“So we had to get the studies done and the money lined up,” Weinstein said. “The flood expedited some of these updates,” which he acknowledged are early steps. “We’ve already completed stream wall and underpass improvements. There are two more that will start this fall, one in the parking lot of the courthouse and another at the George Howard Building.

“We can’t manage what comes out of the sky. But we can deal with it the best we can,” which includes building bigger culverts and pipes, he said. “It’s hard to prevent flooding at the bottom of the river, since that’s just where the water goes.

“However,” he said, “I think we made more progress in the last three years than we have in many before.”

Spot Still Hot

Given the recent circumstances, an observer might think that people who wish to invest in downtown might be hesitant about doing so. Not so, said Karen Besson, board chair for the Ellicott City Partnership.

“We’re at about a 7% vacancy rate downtown,” Besson said, noting that, while “people express concerns about another flood, there are never a shortage of people who want to open a business in Ellicott City. Reconstruction continues in concert with the master plan, which should be available in draft form in the fall and will include information about flood mitigation.

“Some property owners who rebuilt did so in a way to better prepare for weather hazards,” Besson said, “so people are continuing to invest here.”

That’s good news from within what is “a tough issue, for sure,” said Jim Caldwell, director for the Howard County Office of Community Sustainability, who thinks the county has spent a great deal of time in trying to comprehend and learn from not only the flood, but 2011’s Tropical Storm Lee.”

So the next challenge, Caldwell said, is managing the water flow by adding impoundments that hold water and release it slowly, so it doesn’t cause downstream flooding. That’s all a far cry from anything the Ellicott Brothers imagined when they came to town in 1772, he said, “because of the four tributaries at the base of the Patapsco, all going into the Tiber River, when the water powered various mills.”

Noting that the town “has flooded 30-to-40 times since,” Caldwell pointed out that the issue now is that Ellicott City [has evolved into] a residential and business community, and the size of the storms and their frequency seems to be increasing.
“So the point now,” Caldwell said, “is to manage the water.”

OPUS 1 Launches at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods

On Saturday, Oct. 7, from 4–11 p.m., the newly renovated Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will play host to OPUS 1, a festival inspired by the spirit of the woods of Downtown Columbia. Celebrating the art of sound, the inaugural one-day festival blends immersive art installations with music performances and treetop projection mapping. State-of-the-art technology will coexist with artisanal offerings and a bonfire hearth.

OPUS 1 will surround festival-goers with a multi-sensory experience filled with discovery and wonder. The first part of a three-year project, bringing art and cutting-edge culture to the area, OPUS 1 is presented by The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC), the developers of Downtown Columbia.

“We are thrilled to launch this one-of-a-kind experience in Downtown Columbia,” said John DeWolf, executive vice president, development, at HHC. “Columbia has long been known in the music world due to the historical significance of Merriweather Post Pavilion, and OPUS allows us to tell the story of the next phase in the city’s cultural evolution. We are committed to providing an opportunity where art, music and technology can flourish in an extraordinary way.”

Curated and produced by Wild Dogs International, the New York City-based art production, curation and design company, OPUS 1 will be composed of 11 large-scale activation areas for guests of all ages, including the following.

• The Lighting Cloud, an immersive, inflatable air pavilion designed by architect Jesse Seegers that offers a backdrop for projection art

• The U.S. premiere of Híbridos Live, the Vincent Moon-fronted performance project that explores Brazilian ritual dance and soundscapes through live video mixing and performance

• The Color Field Immersion created by Doron Sadja, an American artist, composer and curator whose work explores modes of perception and the experience of sound, light and space

• The Mutual Wave Machine, by Suzanne Dikker, to be presented in collaboration with a group of computational artists, video artists and neuroscientists, is an interactive neurofeedback installation that embodies the elusive notion of “being on the same wavelength” with another person through brainwave synchronization.

• The Dream Machine: Fresh off of the world premiere at Melbourne’s Supersense Festival, Dream Machine takes Brion Gysin’s hallucination-inducing sculpture to an immersive performance environment on the Chrysalis stage, led by Darkside’s Dave Harrington and a host of special guests.

• EXO-TECH Galactic Hearth: Sophia Brous lights up The Hearth stage with her star-studded improvisational ensemble, weaving a strikingly unique palette across wide influences, exploring free jazz improvisation alongside expansive R&B exotica.

• After premiering at the Broad Museum, Miho Hatori’s New Optimism transforms the lightning cloud into an ethereal cave where audience members adorn headlamps to provide interactive stage lighting, while enveloping projections offer an illusory take on historic cave drawings.
• Following a multi-year hiatus of solo projects and artistic adventures, New York-based indie-experimentalists Gang Gang Dance return with new takes on classic material and a glimpse of what’s to come.

• In addition to his poetic live performance, Lonnie Holley, a giant in the world of outsider art, leads a found object sculpture workshop for all ages.

• The Projection Cube, an immersive experience where guests are surrounded in a 360-degree environment of video art, curated by multimedia artist Peter Burr

• George Mason Pep Band: George Mason’s Green Machine and its eccentric bandleader, Doc Nix, kick off the festival with a performance featuring more than 50 of the group’s top players and a set of energetic tributes to today’s hits of electronic dance music and pop.

“Audio-visual arts converge through site-specific experiences to manifest the spirit of the woods in a way that is both subtle and spectacular, intimate and immersive,” said Ken Farmer, creative director of Wild Dogs International. “The forest is a liminal space where boundaries are blurred between audience and performer, onlooker and participant, between people, genres and media. OPUS 1 is an enveloping journey down the rabbit hole.”

In addition, OPUS 1 will extend the multi-sensory experience to an upscale culinary village, providing guests with bites from regional purveyors. As the groundswell moment of the celebrations surrounding Columbia’s 50th anniversary, OPUS 1 will feature the new Chrysalis Stage transformed like never before.

Admission is free and open to all ages. Guests are encouraged to reserve their tickets at for expedited entry.

Dark Cloud Malthouse Connects Farmers With Local Breweries


Maryland’s rapidly expanding craft brewing industry is one of the most visible markets helping to advance the local food movement.
There’s an obvious demand for locally-produced beer, and it’s a matter of pride for brewers, in turn, to be able to source their ingredients as locally as possible. One constant complaint registered by local brewers, however, has been the need to look out of state in order to find barley malt, the primary ingredient in the products; but much of it comes from as far away as the Midwest and Canada, and sometimes Europe.

That’s about to change, thanks to a western Howard County venture launched in October 2016 by Jesse Kaiss and his business partner, Danny Buswell.

Dark Cloud Malthouse, located on Kaiss’s farm in Cooksville, began operations last fall with a modest goal — prove that grain could be grown locally, malted and, more importantly, sold to brewers who are willing to use it
“We grow almost all of what we malt at the moment,” Kaiss said. “As we grow, the plan is to source from other local farmers because we’ll need help with acreage. But what we’re learning here now will really pay off.”

Aside from barley, Kaiss and Buswell will also be working with rye, wheat, oats and spelt, producing specialty products that are hard for small brewers to source.

Custom Design

Kaiss and Buswell, both engineers by trade, designed and built their own custom malting system using a second-hand stainless steel Saladin Box, an all-in-one vessel in which the steeping, germination and kilning of grains takes place.

“There’s a lack of small scale malting equipment, so I thought it would be really neat to design something internally and have your arms around the whole process,” Buswell said.

Their pneumatic system can handle up to three quarters of a ton of grain per batch and uses fans and electronic controls to regulate the temperature, humidity and moisture of the grain during germination.

The seven-day malting cycle runs through a 48-hour steeping process, followed by a three-to-four-day germination period, during which the grain is turned by hand twice a day, and ends with kilning, which lasts 24 hours.

So far, the darkest malt Dark Cloud has produced is a Vienna style, typically found in lighter colored brews. The next batch will be a Munich style more that’s commonly associated with Oktoberfest beers.

“We can probably get to a dark Munich or Biscuit style, but we’ll need a roasting drum to do anything darker,” Buswell said. “In the future, we really want to get into smoked malts and specialty malts, the unique, custom products that warrant a little extra money, but also are more difficult to find.”

Supply Side Strategy

The new maltsters haven’t had to look hard to find brewers willing to take a chance on their products. So far, Dark Cloud has supplied the likes of Mount Airy’s Milkhouse Brewery, Diamondback Brewing and The Brewer’s Art, both of Baltimore, and the Brookville Beer Farm, in Montgomery County, to name just a few of its customers.
Its product is also available to home brewers at Maryland Homebrew, in Columbia, which stocks bulk 50 pound bags of Dark Cloud malt and repackages smaller amounts for customer orders.
The decision to make malt wasn’t exactly deliberate. Kaiss and his wife bought the farm at auction without knowing exactly what they would do with it. But after helping build a food processing facility on his brother-in-law’s Tennessee farm, Kaiss thought he could do something similar.

“I worked for Jailbreak Brewing Co. [in Laurel], so naturally the goal was to do something beer-related,” he said.

“There are so many breweries out there now, we thought one of the things they might need is a local malt supplier,” Buswell said. “If we could prove we can make it work, we thought maybe we could get active on the supply side.”

The pair kept setup costs for the self-funded operation low by doing the design and assembly work themselves, and spent a lot of brainpower mentally preparing themselves. “It was a lot of visiting, reading a lot of books, and taking a two-week malting class at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre, in Winnipeg [Manitoba],” Kaiss said.

Expansion Plans

Dark Cloud produces a half ton to three quarters of a ton of malt per week. “At our current capacity, most of the guys with a five- to 10-barrel brewhouse can make one brew with one batch of our malt,” Buswell said.

That amount is good for a one-off novelty brew made with all-Maryland products, but nowhere near the level of product needed to sustain a flagship brew that’s available year-round.

Now that operations are steady, Kaiss and Buswell are preparing to expand, which could entail pouring a concrete floor in one of the larger buildings on-site or moving into an industrial setting.

“We’re working on loans and equipment lists right now,” Kaiss said. “We’ll bring an engineer on board to help us, but we’ll try to design as much of the next system as we can, too.”

Dark Cloud is targeting a capacity of five to 10 tons per week after expansion, which could make a major difference for local brewers looking to source malt locally.

“By the end of 2018, the goal is to be at a sustainable capacity, where at least one of us could focus on it full-time and begin to hire on additional help,” Buswell said. “We’ve been working with the Howard County Economic Development Authority since we started. They’ve been very helpful, and we know they’ll continue to be helpful once we make our decision.”

More Options

From a supply-side perspective, the local market for malt is vast. According to Jailbreak Co-Founder Kasey Turner, his brewery used 252,000 pounds of 2-row malt and 104,000 pounds of Pilsen malt during the past 12 months, not counting specialty malts used by the brewery.

“It would be great to have a reliable producer so close, so we can have a real two-way dialogue to design beers around the malts that are being produced,” Turner said. “This is something we certainly don’t have currently, being a really small, 7,200 barrel brewery. Beyond that, the practicality of saving money on shipping and the satisfaction of working with our neighbors also make it a great thing.”

For Kaiss and Buswell, the primary variable to their success will be the weather.

“There’s a lot of disease pressure in Maryland, a lot of humidity and moisture,” Kaiss said. “If you’re not on the ball, you might lose a crop.”

The goal, he said, is to produce as many different types of malts as demand allows, paying particular attention to specialty products that are hard for small brewers to acquire.

“We’re even planning to start experimenting with sorghum this fall, to get a gluten-free product available,” Buswell said. “We want to be another resource for farmers looking to get out of the standard corn and soybean rotation. This gives them more options.”

Top-Off Time Near for Live! Casino’s Hotel


It’s amazing how fast a huge building can rise when all of the permitting is completed in a timely manner and ample financing is in place. Just ask Rob Norton, the general manager of the Cordish Co.-owned Live! Casino, in Hanover.

Ground was broken in September 2016 on the 5-year-old casino’s 17-story, 310-room hotel, and construction has been proceeding on schedule. “All of the floors are poured and, at this point, we’re up to floor five with the glass. Progress is great,” said Norton, noting that a mural at what will be the entry point, next to Phillips Seafood at the casino’s south end, is on the way.

“What’s surprised me is how magnificent the space is and how seamlessly it will be integrated with the casino,” he said, adding that the topping-off ceremony is slated for September and, if all goes as planned, the hotel will open in early 2018.

Market Expansion

While it’s almost hard to recall the day when hotels were lacking in the BWI Business District, since it’s now home to about two dozen options, these accommodations will be different from what has previously risen in that area: Most of the 310 rooms will be targeted not for the general market, but for the casino gamers.

That makes sense, since the idea is that the casino gaming market will expand accordingly with the opening of the hotel, which will also feature a 1,500-seat event center, a spa, a restaurant concept by celebrity chef Tod English and 1,000 additional surface parking spaces, with the point being to bring in more gamers from greater distances.

“Due to our access to BWI [Thurgood] Marshall [Airport], we consider any area that has access to the airport [to be] part of our market,” said Norton, which includes not only Richmond and Norfolk, Va., but Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga., as well as the obvious pull of gamers who live within one to two hours driving distance. “Soon, we’ll be able to bring them in for longer stays and a better visit.”

That’s crucial today, given the recent opening of the MGM National Harbor and the ongoing competition from nearby Horseshoe Casino in Downtown Baltimore, which opened in 2014 and is owned by Caesars Entertainment.

The competition was expected to dent Live! Casino’s revenues and it has, though not as severely as some observers thought it would.
“There are things that we’re learning and identifying as we adjust to the [increasingly] competitive market,” Norton said, noting that Live! Casino is a nimble operation. “We can duke and dive faster than the big corps can,” Norton said. “That [makes it easier to deal with] the hand we were dealt. There weren’t supposed to be table games in Baltimore, for instance, so we had to modify the airplane while it was flying.”

Stay Awhile

While the basic Live! Casino is the same, Norton pointed out the multiple new options that have debuted under the roof in the five years since it opened, notably the poker room, dining options like Morty’s Delicatessen and Luk Fu, and some changes that are not as visible.

“We had 800 employees when we opened; now we employ 3,000 workers,” he said, “and the state owned the slot machines when we opened. Now we do.

“I think the addition of the hotel, event center, spa and some of the other amenities give us a competitive balance,” Norton said, “and we expect that we will see some recovery of lost revenues.”

And those updates “definitely help and makes [Live! Casino] a more attractive destination,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. “It’s not just for the gamblers, but [the additions] appeal to the gamblers, as well as appeal to the convention market, with the multi-purpose hall and the proximity to Arundel Mills, in this case.

“That approach usually works at casinos in other areas around the country,” Schwartz said. “It’s fairly common anymore. In Nevada, for instance, it’s the law that to build a casino, you have to build a 200-room hotel, too.”

He said the new hotel will not only drive the gaming, but the non-gaming, too, “because the people who stay there contribute to the economy in different ways. They spend money in various places, not just the casino.”

Schwartz added that Arundel Mills “was built in the first place with the idea of getting people to stay for a long weekend, and the new casino hotel will do nothing but strengthen that part of the market — and remember that Baltimore and all of its attractions are nearby.”

Goin’ South

The added attraction will only tighten the market between Live! Casino and other casinos in the region, said James Karmel, a history professor at Harford Community College and an independent gaming consultant.
“That creates head-to-head competition with the MGM National Harbor,” said Karmel. “I don’t think Horseshoe has plans for a hotel at present, but if they go that route, it could be a real plus,” given that the casino is located along the main entryway to Baltimore on Downtown’s south side, in what’s being billed as an entertainment district.

“The new hotel at Live! Casino makes it more of a regional player,” Karmel said. “It doesn’t have the advantages of the MGM National Harbor, but it can sure expand its reach.”

Expanding its market is especially crucial for Live! Casino, because that will help blanket the market from Maine to Florida — aside from in the south, where Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia do not offer gaming.
“The problem with expanding in the south concerns where that would be possible,” he said. “Maybe Atlanta,” if gaming is approved in Georgia, where there is a push.

“But the growth in the casino market is international,” Karmel said, noting that Cordish is looking outside of the U.S. for its next moves, such as a project in Spain.

As for today, the focus is on the company’s next splash at Arundel Mills, which Norton said will be complete in about six months.
To the locals, that’s job one. “There’s still a lot to do,” he said, “and many details go into what appears to [people outside of the Cordish organization] to be seamless. We have hundreds of people to hire and train, and the Anne Arundel Community College hospitality program is a likely feeder. We also need to develop the call center, select sheets and towels, and other specifics for amenities.

“There are thousands of pages of details,” Norton said, “that need to be addressed.”

More Input on Central Maryland’s Transit Development Plan


After one round of input in fall 2016, the Transit Development Plan (TDP) for Central Maryland is ready for its next infusion of public opinion, as the first of four public meetings was held on Aug. 21 at the North Laurel Community Center.
“We were in this very room at the beginning of the process,” said Clive Graham, administrator of the Howard County Office of Transportation. “Now, we are about 80% though the process. We’ve got a lot of information from public outreach last fall, [and] we did a lot of evaluation of existing services, as well.”
Three additional meetings — all in September (see below) — will facilitate gathering community input on service and policy proposals for the Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) of Central Maryland and for other transit operations in the area. The TDP is based on an evaluation of service and identifying needs, then developing proposals to meet those needs and improve service.
The service proposals include realigned routes, reduced ride times, increased frequencies, improved connections and expanded weekend service.

Five-Year Plan
Fred Fravel, project manager for the KFH Group, a consulting firm that has been working on the TDP, explained that all the transit systems in Maryland complete a TDP every five years.
“Sometimes there are longer-range plans that look at things like building new rail corridors,” Favel said, “but for this plan, we would be happy if most of these things got implemented over the next five years.”
Those attending the public meeting heard an overview of the TDP, then had the opportunity to ask questions about specific route areas. The format of the September meetings will be the same, he said.
Fravel also wanted to emphasize that this TDP is a partnership. “This is unusual in Maryland, to have a regional transit agency,” he said. “People here criss-cross county boundaries all the time, so we need to develop services that crossed these lines within one system, to create a regional transit system that meets these needs.”
Developed with Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County and the City of Laurel, the TDP will set guidelines for transit services in Central Maryland and will provide a roadmap for organizational improvements, including potential expansion, during the next five years. An implementation plan is due in November.

Connecting People, Jobs
Public transit is an issue the public and the business community should care about because, at its heart, it provides avenues to jobs to a greater number of people, said Stuart Title, vice president of Odenton-based A.J. Properties.
Title has testified in various forums for public comment for more than 20 years. Though he supports many of the improvements the latest TDP will bring, Title questioned how funding structures impede the ability of local transit to connect with Baltimore and Washington.
“Most of the federal dollars go to metro areas, and those metro areas are defined by a formula and the funds can’t be used elsewhere,” he said. “Yet we have, in this region, essentially a metro area that’s larger than either of the two cities.”
Howard County has done a good job of providing transit, he said. “They’ve always made the rhetoric of transportation a top priority. They’ve backed it up with funding. Some other counties have not.”
Fravel said he, like Title, appreciates people who care about transit and want to offer ideas. “We did an on-board survey on the buses, and I have never seen a response like we got from the bus riders on the RTA. We heard from 1,200 to 1,300 riders, and got another couple hundred responses from the public and from stakeholders.”

Ramon Robinson, who b1ecame Anne Arundel County’s first-ever transit director in October 2016, said he believes there has been good input from people throughout the region.
“What you do find with the regional perspective is that we still have specificity toward each individual county and what it is looking to achieve,” he said. “For Anne Arundel County, of course, the goal was about making connections to job centers and providing adequate connection for people to get to those job centers.”
Robinson said he is focused on improvements in getting people to some key destinations, like malls, airports, MARC trains, light rail and other significant connections that make people’s work trips easier.
Tying the needs of counties together in one regional system means ironing out some “leftovers” of the past from the Central Maryland Transit System, said Fravel. “One of the odd things, as a legacy of having been two separate systems, is that we are dealing with two different schedules and fares,” he said, and the proposal is to have one schedule and one fare system.
People also want more frequent, and more reliable, service. “People now work and shop seven days a week,” Fravel said, and “they want buses that show up, on time, that don’t break down.”

Anne Arundel County
• Tuesday, Sept. 12
Anne Arundel Community College at Arundel Mills
7009 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover
Served by: RTA Routes 201/J, 202/K, 501/Silver, 502/B and MTA Routes 75, 201

Howard County
• Wednesday, Sept. 13
Non-Profit Center of Howard County
9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia
Served by: RTA Routes 501/Silver, 503/E
• Monday, Sept. 18
George Howard Building, Columbia/Ellicott Room
3430 Court House Drive,
Ellicott City
Served by: RTA Route 405/Yellow

African-American History Is Being Documented in Howard County


New efforts are underway to document the history of African-Americans in Howard County. Some of the existing sites that already work to accomplish this are the African Art Museum of Maryland, in Fulton; the Ellicott City Colored School Restored; the Museum of Howard County History, in Ellicott City; and the Howard County Center of African American Culture, in Columbia.

The Original Courthouse

The Original Howard District Courthouse at 8398 Main Street in Ellicott City (behind the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin and adjacent to Parking Lot F) is the newest site endeavoring to tell the story of African-Americans in the county. The exhibits located there are currently twofold.

First, the Heritage Program of the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has installed a permanent exhibit that talks about the site itself and its history as the first courthouse for the area and the cases heard there relating to enslaved people and those aiding and abetting freedom-seekers. Included in the display is information on the Underground Railroad in and around Howard County.

Second, the Howard County African American History Project (HCAAHP), a committee of the Howard County Historical Society, is currently featuring rotating displays on the history of the Fells Lane community, an African-American neighborhood that once was located in the area where Parking Lot F now stands. Many people are unaware of the existence of this community. The displays eventually will be available as travelling exhibits, and new documentation related to African-Americans in Howard County will be created and displayed at the site.

The Fells Lane Project

The HCAAHP mission is to collect and make available historical research on the African-American experience in Howard County from the colonial and pre-integration era to the present, create community-based projects to share this history and preserve local African-American historical sites.
The Fells Lane project has centered on telling the stories of those who lived in that area. Oral histories from residents as well as printed materials are used to convey what life was like for those living on the edge of town. It was a close-knit, vibrant community that enjoyed life but endured some very difficult circumstances.

By the 1960s, housing conditions there had deteriorated to the point that it was referred to as “the nation’s smallest black ghetto” in an article in Jet magazine in March of 1967. There was a serious lack of sanitary facilities. Most of the houses had neither outdoor nor indoor toilets; only a few had cold running water.

Consider that this was around the same time that Jim Rouse was proposing and creating his vision for the new, inclusive city of Columbia; it seems incongruous that these two situations could exist at the same time.


From Fells Lane to Hilltop

A brochure the Patapsco Heritage Greenway created for its Patapsco Valley Heritage Area History Days recounted: “In February 1965 a devastating fire [on Fells Lane resulting in the loss of five lives] became a watershed moment for both this black community and Howard County’s community at-large.” This tragic event was the catalyst for a call for change. Fells Lane resident Raymond Johnson emerged as a spokesman for the community, and ultimately the slums were demolished after the Hilltop Housing Community (now Burgess Mill Station) was built to house those from Fells Lane.

The community remained, and remains, tight-knit. The residents felt connected because they all had fought for their neighborhood; they all moved from the same slum. The dwindling numbers of former residents still hold an annual reunion. Sadly, Raymond Johnson passed away this year, but community members always will remember him for standing up and helping to effect change.

Former Fells Lane resident Tyrone Tyler has been instrumental in creating the displays, assisting with the oral histories and recreating a map of the community as it was in the 1960s. Anyone wishing to share their story from their time in this community — by way of oral history or photos from that time — should contact the Howard County Historical Society at 410-480-3250 or

Ed Lilley, a member of the Howard County African American History Project, can be reached at

Columbia’s Builders to Be Honored on Sept. 19

Former and current community members are invited to attend “Building a Better City: Columbia’s Legacy and Promise” on Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 5–8 p.m., at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College (HCC). The event will be being presented by the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration.

A small plates dinner, with local beers and wine, will precede a special program featuring expert speakers and video recollections of Columbia’s early visionaries and entrepreneurs. Admission is $50. Register at

“During Columbia’s 50th Birthday festivities, it is fitting that we honor the developers, planners, designers, architects, engineers and others who created this beautiful city,” said Marlys East, managing director of the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration.

“Building a Better City: Columbia’s Legacy and Promise” opens with a “reunion” in the lobby of the Horowitz Center, where those who formerly worked on the Columbia project can mingle with those currently doing business in Columbia, as well as residents of all backgrounds and tenure in the community.

The program will follow in the Smith Theatre, where featured speakers Roger Lewis and Christopher Leinberger will discuss the impact of Columbia on developments both near and far in its first 50 years, as well as look forward.

Both Lewis and Leinberger have been following Columbia’s development for decades and have made previous appearances in the city. Lewis is an architect and urban planner and Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He has a weekly column in the Washington Post, “Shaping the City”; Leinberger is a land use strategist, teacher, developer, researcher and author. He serves as the Charles Bendit Distinguished Scholar, and research professor and chair, of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at The George Washington University School of Business.

Leinberger knew and worked with Columbia founder Jim Rouse, and his wife, Patty; and Lewis was a design consultant to The Rouse Company, and to subsequent Columbia development entities.
After the presentation, a short video will be shown. It features excerpts from interviews gathered during the past two decades by Ilana Bittner, of Pixel Workshop. The recently compiled recollections include commentary from Rouse; former Columbia General Manager Al Scavo; former Columbia Association President Maggie Brown, who died in 2010; and many others involved in the building of Columbia.

At the program’s close, dessert will be served in the lobby and the event will continue. Sponsors include Columbia Builders, Costello Construction Co. of Maryland, Harkins Builders, The Howard Hughes Corp. and Williamsburg Builders.

Columbia’s 50th Birthday Celebration began in March and is continuing through Saturday, Oct. 7, featuring a variety of community organizations and institutions that will be showcasing exhibits, events and activities throughout the celebration. More information is available at ColumbiaMD50 on Facebook and Twitter, and at

Light House Bistro Provides Life-Changing Cuisine

Choosing a place to enjoy a meal in Annapolis can be a daunting task — there are so many fine options to select from. One of the newer establishments, having arrived on the scene this past February, is the 50-seat Light House Bistro, located at 202 West Street, which also is home to B.E.S.T. Catering.

Guests can dine on the Bistro’s seasonal roast squash bisque; a pulled chicken B.E.S.T.wich; a crab cake with fried green tomatoes; cauliflower “mac” and cheese; or braised pork or seared salmon with caramelized shallots, leeks and fennel, haricot verts, herbed quinoa and avocado butter, to name some of the many options.

Light House Bistro and B.E.S.T. Catering Executive Chef Beth Rocca brings 25 years of culinary experience in the preparation of fine foods. A graduate of the L’Academie de Cuisine Culinary Arts Program, she worked as an executive chef, and later as the food and beverage director, at Loews Hotel in Annapolis, and recently spent three years teaching culinary classes at Sur La Table in Carlsbad, Ca.

But dining at Light House Bistro is a value-added proposition: Customers not only enjoy fine food in the state capital’s arts and entertainment district, they support a social enterprise effort to provide living-wage employment to individuals experiencing homelessness.

Sustainable Employment

Owned and operated by the Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center and located in the center’s repurposed one-time home, Light House Bistro houses an Advanced Culinary Training Center with a full teaching kitchen and real-work opportunities for graduates of the Light House’s culinary arts job training program — Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.). More than 250 students have graduated from the program since its 2012 launch.

The kitchen, located in the newly created basement of the building, offers custom catering, lunch contracts, prepared meals and signature items. The second floor features four new apartments for former Light House Shelter residents.

Elizabeth Kinney, president of the Light House Social Enterprise LLC board, said the organization’s mission is training. “You can’t have sustainable housing without sustainable employment. Our goal is to increase our clients’ income by increasing their opportunities for promotions. The greater the skill, the greater the income.”

Adding to the marketability of the culinary graduates is the fact that they’ve already received the ServSafe certification. And the majority of the Bistro’s front-of-the-house employees continue on to get their alcohol awareness certification through the TIPS (training for intervention procedures) program.

Future Bistro employees participate in a 14-week B.E.S.T. training program at Light House’s 10 Hudson Street headquarters. Kinney said about 30% of students enrolled in the B.E.S.T. program are Light House residents.

Lakesha’s Story

Lakesha has been employed at Light House Bistro as a sauté cook since she graduated from the B.E.S.T. Program in April 2017.

The previous fall, Lakesha and her 3-year-old daughter arrived at the Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center as survivors of domestic abuse. Living at the shelter provided her with a safe space to get back on her feet. She was able to apply for daycare assistance for her daughter, start working again, save some money, learn budgeting skills and start the process of finding affordable housing.

When she learned about the B.E.S.T. Culinary Program, and that the Bistro would be opening, Lakesha was excited.

“I’ve been cooking since I was 15. I love cooking … it’s my passion. My grandmother, my aunt and my uncle all had their own restaurants, so when I was growing up I was learning from them and working in kitchens most of my life.”

Lakesha worked hard to pass her ServSafe certification exam. She was awarded the B.E.S.T. Outstanding Student Star Award by her instructors, and the Bistro hired her the day she graduated.

“I’ve learned so many skills since I started the B.E.S.T. Program. Even though I had been cooking most of my life, Chef Beth, and my B.E.S.T. instructor, Chef Linda, have taught me so much more. I’ve learned a lot about different styles of cooking, how to get flavors to compliment each other, and how to make something incredible out of any ingredients on hand.”

Lakesha now has a full-time job, steady housing and the promise of a bright future. She is proud that she can provide for her daughter and said her ultimate goal is to be able to send her daughter to college and teach her to work hard.

Repurposed Life

In keeping with The Light House’s mission of reclaiming lives, the interior of the building uses fixtures and materials that are repurposed and reclaimed. The chairs were used by U.S. Naval Academy plebes in the 1950s. The pendulum lights are from an old Pepco plant in Baltimore. The bar stools, tables and waiting benches are handcrafted from reclaimed barn wood.

When builders gutted the 1889 building to create the restaurant, they salvaged floor joists that now serve as restaurant walls. A wall-length church pew came from St. Anne’s church on Church Circle, and harkens back to a time when St. Anne’s served as the shelter’s first home in 1988. The following year, Annapolis Area Ministries (composed of 13 different churches) purchased the 202 West Street location. In 2010, the organization changed its name to Light House.

The donated hostess stand is the original cash box from Bowen’s Farm Supplies in Annapolis, and the donated mirror behind the bar is made of old Venetian glass. Kinney said the restaurant is decorated with finds from antiques shops throughout Annapolis and Maryland.

Outside, the Light House’s story is captured in a 7-foot by 19-foot mural on the Madison Street side of the building. The work was funded by the nonprofit community public art project ArtWalk, whose mission is to bring grand scale art to the walls of exterior buildings in historic Annapolis.

Feeling Whole

As Kinney sees it, “It’s a community service that brings in individuals who are at risk, or who need a second skill set to help them get back to work. Our mission is jobs. We’re not in this to make a profit. We want our employees to make a living wage. Any additional revenues go back to Light House to fund our programs.”

Lakesha and other participants of the program are testimonial to its effectiveness. “Out of this whole experience, I was able to gain my independence,” she said. “I’m grateful to everyone who contributes and works with us to rebuild our lives and help us feel whole again.”

Create Your Moment Anew in Annapolis & Anne Arundel County


The top three variables individuals consider when they’re planning a move or relocation are: safety, affordability and weather. Not surprisingly, the same three criteria play a key role when it comes to planning a vacation.

Perhaps that’s why so many travelers return to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County year after year. The September/October 2017 issue of Where to Retire magazine touts Annapolis as one of “Eight Cities to Park the Car and Walk.” In addition to applauding the miles of shoreline that grace Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, the article cites a moderate climate — a high of 41 degrees/low of 24 degrees in January and a high of 87 degrees/low of 69 degrees in July — as another compelling reason to visit.

Some travelers say they return to their favorite haunts annually to keep family traditions alive. Others say repeat visits help them keep their finger on the pulse of the destinations they love. They believe in the age-old adage, “The only constant is change.” The list of some of the major projects that were initiated or completed in Annapolis and Anne Arundel over the past year is a testament to this theory.

Building and Renovation Boom

Fiscal year 2017, that ended June 30, celebrated the opening of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport’s (BWI) multi-million-dollar D/E Connector that provides additional international airline capacity and new passenger services. In September 2016, the Cordish Companies broke ground on the new, $200 million, 310-room flagship Live! Hotel adjacent to Arundel Mills Mall that’s slated for completion next year. At the same time, the company launched Live! Lofts, a first-class, full-service boutique hotel.

In 2017, Historic Annapolis Inc. embarked on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar restoration of the James Brice House — one of the largest and most elegant of Annapolis’s historic homes and one of the most important surviving structures from colonial America. Historic Annapolis plans to restore the house to its completed 1774 appearance.
On the arts and entertainment scene, Maryland’s premier regional theater for Shakespeare and the Classics, the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, opened the doors of its new 1804 West Street location in January 2017. The 8,102-square-foot property is triple the size of its former building. Audiences are now enjoying performances featuring Broadway actors in the company’s intimate black box theater. In February 2017, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts kicked off construction of its new Theatre Production Wing, marking the first expansion of the Maryland Hall building in its 85-year history.

Cuisine and Libations

In the culinary arena, Crooked Crab Brewing Company has signed a lease for a 6,100-square-foot warehouse in Odenton, where it plans to start making beer by year’s end. In downtown Annapolis, the owner of Chesapeake Brewing Company, Carolyn Marquis, said her 114 West Street restaurant expects to begin creating its own craft beers this fall. Lovers of Japanese food have discovered a new favorite in TenTen Ramen at 137 Prince George Street.

Elsewhere on the restaurant scene, the 50-seat social enterprise restaurant, Light House Bistro, opened at 202 West Street in Annapolis’s Arts and Entertainment District in February. Owned and operated by the Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center, the restaurant and coffee bar is on a mission to provide living wage employment for individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

West Annapolis has undergone a culinary explosion with the opening of the health-conscious, sustainability-focused Evelyn’s at 26 Annapolis Street in March and the arrival of Frederik De Pue’s Belgian-inspired Flamant restaurant at 17 Annapolis Street in June.

Then There’s Shopping

Retail happenings include ongoing construction at 110 Compromise Street, the former home of Fawcett Boat Supplies. If all goes as planned, residents and vacationers will have new shopping and dining options at the City Dock location by year’s end. The Boston Whaler boat dealership, Chesapeake Whalertowne, and North Sails Apparel have leased space at the site. It’s anticipated the third and final tenant will be a restaurant that offers dockside and rooftop dining.

Local by Design has opened at 109 Main Street in Annapolis. The shop is home to the creations of more than 60 handpicked local artisans. Nearby Maryland Avenue boasts a host of new shopping options.

Old Fox Books and Coffeehouse has opened at 35 Maryland Avenue. The Annapolis Bookstore has moved into shared space with the Yarn Basket at 53 Maryland Avenue. Evergreen Antiques is now Evergreen Antiques and True Vintage, reflecting the fact that vintage clothing is now a part of the 69 Maryland Avenue shop’s inventory.

The “treasured finds” theme continues at the recently opened Barefoot Dwelling vintage shop and design studio at 65 Maryland Avenue. A Touch of Fancy at 31 Maryland Avenue offers a blend of old and new, upcycled, repurposed and handmade furniture and gifts.

Sightseeing and Getting Around

Several new tours and services make it easier than ever to explore Annapolis. In April, the U.S. Naval Academy began offering a narrated riding tour. Ideal for individuals with mobility issues, the new GEM of a Tour utilizes a five-passenger electric GEM car to escort tour participants around the Yard. In August, Annapolis Urban EvenTours launched an Annapolis by Night tour that offers “history with mystery.” In July, the City of Annapolis reinstituted free City Circulator transportation in the downtown shopping district.

This is but a sampling of all that’s new in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County invites vacationers, business travelers and locals to “Create Your Moment” by reconnecting with their favorite Annapolis and Anne Arundel County traditions and treating themselves to the many new experiences that await them in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

Susan Seifried is vice president, communications, for Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (, in Annapolis. She can be reached at 410-280-0445, ext. 303, or at

Virtual Currency Still Potentially Disruptive Force, Despite Slow Acceptance


Disagreement concerning how to operate the cryptocurrency known as bitcoin led to a split known as a “hard fork” in August, resulting in the introduction of Bitcoin Cash, a new strand of the virtual currency.

It will take time for users to ultimately judge the wisdom of that decision. Meanwhile, it’s another drop of uncertainty in waters already muddied by an increasing number of competing cryptocurrencies in a world that still doesn’t quite know how to harness them for commerce, how to prevent their abuse for criminal gain and just how much privacy they should afford.

Looking specifically at bitcoin for the sake of simplicity, the number of local retailers and service providers who accept it has not budged since 2013. Online transactions aside, acceptance has been slower than many local advocates once anticipated; the reasons are up for debate.

From the perspective of Gloria Phillips-Wren, professor of information systems and operation management at Loyola University Maryland, the fact that anonymous cryptocurrencies are not backed by any recognized authority is both a strength and a weakness.

“Virtual and digital currencies are more secure in the sense that [their use] is more transparent,” she said. “Fraud should be harder, because all users have a copy of the transactions.”

But that level of transparency is exactly what bothers some users who place more value on the concept of complete anonymity.


The slower-than-anticipated acceptance has contributed to fallout for some local businesses oriented around bitcoin.

Alan Reiner, CEO of Fulton-based Armory Technologies, which pioneered one of the world’s most secure online bitcoin storage systems, announced in February 2016 that he was returning to private employment and abandoning his involvement with the company.

“In the immediate future, Farhod [Fathpour, an Armory developer] has indicated that he will take over the reins of the public side of the Armory project,” Reiner wrote in a message to the bitcoin community that uses Armory’s wallet and other tools.

So far, Armory appears to have survived. On July 28, Fathpour announced the release of a new update for Armory users and acknowledged that future updates were expected.

Baltimore-based Bitsie, a business focused on promoting bitcoin’s adoption by more retailers, was not as lucky and folded. “After the 2013 boom, the market introduction on the retail side stagnated and didn’t pan out,” said the company’s former CEO Joshua Riddle.

In the aftermath, Riddle and the other partners who ran Bitsie took a new direction, partnering to establish the digital marketing firm Black Label Agency.

Cautious Approach

Part of the uncertainty surrounding virtual currency lies in its taxonomy.

Earlier this year, the Securities Exchange Commission declined the proposal of entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to develop a bitcoin investment vehicle accessible through common investment accounts.

Moreover, the Internal Revenue Service classifies cryptocurrencies as property, not currency, and taxes them as such for purposes of federal income reporting.

“We have seen wild swings in the price of bitcoin, and it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of dollars of swing in a single day,” Phillips-Wren said. “The volatility makes it unstable.”

But like a wildly fluctuating stock, there are people who are drawn to it as a speculative investment.

“It’s actually a good way to help diversify a portfolio, but investors do have to have a good stomach for it,” Riddle said. “The volatility is ridiculous, but the potential return is also ridiculous. In my own experience, bitcoin has outperformed any of the assets I’ve ever owned and outperformed all of the expectations that I’ve had.”


It remains to be seen whether the banking industry will get behind the notion of virtual currency that is absent of regulatory controls.
“As the technology progresses, we may see more official backing and more financial institutions willing to get involved,” Phillips-Wren said.

According to Steve Kenneally, vice president in charge of payments and cybersecurity for the American Bankers Association, most banks view virtual currency as an immature product, but they are paying attention to what’s going on in that sphere.

“User experience is a real challenge with virtual currencies,” Kenneally said, compared to existing payment systems that are simple to use and have rules in place that everybody understands. “Once virtual currency is spent, it’s gone. There’s no way to stop payment or question a transaction. With the introduction of second- or third- generation products, we’re hoping there will be some type of governance framework in place to reassure [users].”

On the disruptive side of the technology, there have been predictions that virtual currencies could remove banks from the process of intermediation — matching lenders with borrowers — or spell the end of charging currency exchange fees for global transactions.
“What we see there is similar to what happened with the smartphone revolution,” Kenneally said. “We would likely see banks develop more payment products [enabling the use of virtual currencies] that are user-friendly.

“What typically happens with technology,” he said, “is that banks get involved when they see it coming. They understand that they have to adapt and figure out how to leverage it, if they want to stay in business.”


One of the newest virtual currencies, Zerocash (also referred to as Zcash), was developed just up the road at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University.

“We brought it into existence in October 2016 because we saw a privacy problem with bitcoin,” said Matthew Green, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. “The problem is that bitcoin transactions are traceable, meaning they can be seen by others, including people who want to hack bitcoin users and do bad stuff to them.”

Working with Zcash Founder Zooko Wilcox, Green and a team of developers from Hopkins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Israel developed a virtual currency that allows transactions to be confirmed without recording the addresses in a ledger, like bitcoin.
“The way the blockchain works is dangerous,” Green said. “It’s a public record that’s available to everybody.”

Zcash functions much like bitcoin in every other respect, down to the number of coins — 21 million — that will eventually be circulated.
While it may prove more difficult for Zcash to gain acceptance from regulators and the financial industry because of its untraceable nature, Wilcox and the developers are doing what they can to reassure regulators that it’s not a tool for criminal activity.

“As it stands now, virtual currency is early technology, much like the Internet was in 1985,” Green said. “Back then, we didn’t see many people using the Internet, because it was hard to use; but today, it’s universal and it has become second nature for people to use it every day.”

Tourism Works for Local Businesses


Visit Howard County is charged to lead the marketing of Howard County as a great visitor and meeting destination. Visitor spending not only impacts hotels, restaurants, retailers and transportation businesses, but also helps to underwrite the area’s arts and cultural assets.

As the official destination marketing organization for the county, Visit Howard County is the first and foremost source of information for people who want to know more about where to go and what to see and do there.

Business Benefits

As an advocate for the tourism industry, the organization offers exclusive benefits to individuals and businesses interested in capturing a greater market share of the $653 million tourism generates. Currently, more than 300 area businesses are enrolled in Visit Howard County’s Membership Program.

The Development, Sales and Marketing teams serve as front-line resources to Howard County-based businesses. These resources include in-house promotional efforts, trade show attendance, cooperative marketing opportunities, professional development programs, creative asset libraries, web and print listing consulting, consumer research and even event assistance through a new tourism grant program. By taking advantage of the benefits offered, members extend their reach both regionally and locally.

Sales efforts include working closely with hoteliers and group tour attraction members to bring business to their establishments. Visit Howard County holds regular meetings for hotels to discuss opportunities, industry trends and developments. Representatives regularly attend trade shows and networking events throughout the year targeting key markets such as sports, youth and associations.

Selling points include Howard County’s convenient location and airport access, amenities and open space, attractions and affordability. Visit Howard County’s support for groups coming to the area include providing area information and connecting groups with lodging, dining, entertainment, etc. Such support builds rapport and increases the chances of repeat business.

Resource-Driven Membership

Cooperative marketing opportunities allow members to purchase advertising at discounted rates and participate in promotions like the summer and winter Howard County Restaurant Weeks. Advertising outlets have included Facebook, the Washington Post, iHeartRadio and AAA World, Destination Maryland and e-blasts through Destination DC. Visit Howard County hosts media tours throughout the year where members may be selected to entertain writers and media influencers. Media wins have landed the county in nationally-recognized publications such as The Huffington Post, Men’s Journal, Cosmopolitan and Getaway Mavens. The organization also hosted a series of roundtable discussions for members who shared their insights and fresh ideas for future co-op opportunities.

Visit Howard County regularly hosts professional development workshops designed to help tourism industry businesses capture a greater market share of the millions of dollars tourism generates; members receive discounted registration to educational opportunities. Recent topics included media relations, social media and sales. Future topics under consideration include customer care, retail best practices and digital marketing for small businesses.

As part of its emphasis on a resource-driven membership model, Visit Howard County introduced a member extranet that interfaces with the website. The technology allows members to update their public information, receive requests for proposals and service requests, submit items to the events calendar, update web listings and images, update print listings, opt into cooperative opportunities and access research and media contacts.

Outreach Efforts

Visit Howard County historically has supported events and festivals with in-kind marketing, and in some cases, financial assistance. Examples include Historic Savage Mill’s bicentennial celebration in 2016; Ellicott City’s grand re-opening after the devastating July 30, 2016, flood; Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival; Symphony of Lights; Books in Bloom; and others.

In an effort to bring even more events to Howard County over the coming years, Visit Howard County recently launched a new Tourism Grant Program. The program is designed to cultivate events that draw attendees to Howard County and engage residents through marketing and other support.

Member outreach is very important to the organization; member visits are a great opportunity for the Visit Howard County team to familiarize with members’ businesses and add to its knowledge base of all there is to see and do in the county. Likewise members receive a thorough in-person presentation of all the organization has to offer and an extranet tutorial.
In 2016 Visit Howard County lowered its annual dues to $50 to make its services more accessible to all county businesses. Anthony Cordo, executive director for Visit Howard County, said, “By empowering this community to work together, get engaged and remain informed, Visit Howard County is able to promote our community and provide for an improved tourist and resident experience.” This new membership structure led to a 53% increase in membership in 2017. Visit Howard County is serious about continuing its focus on building value for its members through adding new opportunities.

Amanda Hof is director of tourism development for Visit Howard County. She can be reached at 410-313-1904 or

Pay Attention, Not Randsom: MD Cyber Day

Following our Maryland-based BBB’s celebration of 100 years of service on Sept. 19, we’re partnering with the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI) on the Maryland Cyber Day Marketplace. This free, half-day event is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Baltimore.

Don’t be fooled: If you don’t have a plan in place for dealing with a cyberattack, you need to attend this event. It is estimated that by 2019 cyberattacks will cost more than $2 trillion U.S. dollars globally; based on historical data, they’re more likely to happen to a small business.
While attacks like the now famous HBO hack, which came to light via leaks about its crown-jewel series, “Game of Thrones,” are widely publicized, 60% of all breaches are perpetrated against small businesses. This alarming statistic, along with the revelation that 70% of small businesses failed to have a plan in place for dealing with a cyberattack, were findings reported in Better Business Bureau’s “The State of Cybersecurity Among Small Businesses in North America,” October 2016.

I’ve talked about the five myths of cybersecurity before, but let me remind you that the cost of dealing with the average attack rose from $8,699 in 2013 to $20,752 in 2015.

In contrast, by setting aside a portion of your day to attend this free event, you’ll gain face-to-face access to Maryland’s cybersecurity product and services providers, technology demos, “Ask an Expert” information booths, one-on-one mini educational sessions, networking and an information-packed keynote that will make sense to non-technical business representatives across industry sectors, including commercial, government and nonprofit.

For more information on the Maryland Cyber Day Marketplace, to be held from 8 a.m.–1:15 p.m. at the Columbus Center, 700 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, call 410-400-4BBB or visit

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

In Brief

Rethinking Retirement Program Set for Vantage House on Sept. 14
Vantage House retirement community is sponsoring a workshop, “Rethinking Retirement: A Columbia Perspective on Aging,” on Thursday, Sept. 14, from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., at Historic Oakland in Downtown Columbia. The free program is designed for professionals and others working with older adults.

The event will feature a keynote address by Jennifer FitzPatrick, a noted gerontologist and author, who will focus on “Shattering Myths & Stereotypes” in a society that idealizes youth and dreads aging. FitzPatrick is the author of “Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing the Stress of Caring for Your Loved One.”

A panel discussion, “Living in Howard County,” will be moderated by Phyllis Madachy, who has worked in community-based services for older adults for more than 35 years and is a former administrator for the Howard County Office of Aging.

Panelists will include Jackie Scott, director of the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services; Louis (Rusty) Toler, Senior Fellow with the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), and Mary McGraw, founder of The Village In Howard serving residents 55 and older.

Historic Oakland is located at 5430 Vantage Point Road. There is no admission fee, but seating is limited. Register by calling 410-992-1241.

Columbia 50th Anniversary Doc on Sept. 13

The Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) has announced the Sept. 13 film premiere of its documentary, “Columbia at 50 — A Bridge to the Future,” at 7 p.m., at the Smith Theatre-Horowitz Center at Howard Community College.

The event is free to the public and will include an introduction from film director Richard Krantz, of Pilot Productions. Krantz produced a documentary video for Columbia’s 20th anniversary, which also will be screened at the event. Josh Olson, Jim Rouse’s biographer, will be an additional featured speaker. Also, a panel discussion on the vision for the future of Columbia will close out the event. Panelists will include Del. Terri Hill and other notable Columbians.
The film was made possible by contributions from major backers including the HCCA, Columbia Association, British American Auto Care and the state of Maryland.
Tickets are free at

Security, Comrade

Is there a KGB agent in your computer?

No, I’m not talking about Trump and the Russian hacking. There are plenty of other places to look into that topic, if you’re interested.
I’m talking about a trained Russian intelligence agent who sells security products. That’s Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Labs, who was accepted at age 16 to the KGB-backed Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications & Computer Science. When he graduated, he was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the Russian Army ­— something he has bragged about while pitching his software. Its offices are still headquartered in Moscow, and the vast majority of its employees work there, in a converted factory.

In case you think this is just another blurb fueled by Russian paranoia, let’s journey to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that was held in May and started as an investigation of meddling in our 2016 elections. Six leaders of the intelligence community, from the CIA to NSA and the FBI to DISA, were asked by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio if they would be comfortable having Kaspersky Lab software on their computers. They all said no, with (then) FBI Director Andrew McCabe saying, “A resounding no.”

What’s interesting about this out-of-nowhere question by Rubio is that this technique is often used to bring points learned in a closed intelligence briefing out in an unclassified setting.

It was successful in doing so, because they all answered without weasel-wording.


Not Neutral

Kaspersky Labs has not been entirely benign as far as U.S. intelligence goes. In 2010, a Kaspersky researcher discovered Stuxnet, a U.S.-Israeli worm that had successfully wrecked more than a thousand Iranian centrifuges being used in their nuclear program; and just this May, it discovered another joint U.S.-Israeli cyberweapon aimed at Iran, which it named Flame.

This will not endear them to the U.S. intelligence chiefs.

Let’s face it, anti-virus software is one thing we give complete and utter access to all the files and incoming emails on our computers. When you install Kaspersky, the first thing it does is scan every file on your machine. If it finds something it doesn’t like it will delete it; but if it finds something that it doesn’t know what to do with, it will send an encrypted copy to that factory in Moscow, so it can take another look at the file in question.

The same thing happens with McAfee and Norton, of course, and they probably subcontract some of their work to Vietnam and China, too. But it’s not quite the same as sending it to Comrade Kaspersky. And every update allows more intrusions into your machine.


Not Obvious

Kaspersky is also working very hard to incorporate its software into other products, such as the Cisco routers that handle the vast majority of packets on the Internet. An article in Wired magazine noted that it had an entire lab set up to emulate the industrial equipment that is used to control things like power plants, prisons and sewage plants. This must give security people nightmares.

It should be noted that some Kaspersky employees were involved in killing the Kelihos botnet that was responsible for churning out 3.8 billion pieces of spam a day. It also helped dismantle the Koobface virus that was spread by Facebook messages. That’s fine.

Not All Good

But Kaspersky has been instrumental in developing software that takes “hacking the hackers” to a more disturbing level. In the type of attack known as “distributed denial of service,” hackers use multiple, usually innocent but infected, computers to attack websites, usually demanding ransom to back off.

In concert with the FSB (successor to the KGB), it has developed software to track the Internet addresses of offenders. Kaspersky Lab employees have ridden along with FSB agents to break down doors. Not fine.


A Word From GSA

In July, the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that handles almost all federal contracting, removed Kaspersky Labs from its list of approved vendors, saying it acted to “ensure the integrity and security of U.S. government systems and networks.” And the U.S. government had previously warned travelers to the 2014 Olympics, in Sochi, that connecting cellphones in Russia likely would turn them into listening devices for the FSB, and connecting a laptop to a Russian network would infiltrate it.

Despite Kaspersky’s vehement denials that it might be compromising peoples’ systems, its ties to the intelligence networks in Russia are long-standing and many. So the GSA was being cautious and not saying much else. It has been standard practice for the Department of Defense to not include Kaspersky in the list of approved vendors for many years. Many state and local governments still use Kaspersky, however.
Revenue from American and western European customers was more than $374 million, almost 60% of $633 million in 2016 sales. Any loss of confidence in the reliability (as in Russian back doors) of Kaspersky software would be devastating.

But it’s probably coming. Drink up, comrade.

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and does PC troubleshooting, network setups and data recovery — when not trying to understand any Russian, except “nyet.” He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at Older columns are available online at

Q&A With VAAAC President & CEO Connie Del Signore

It’s been an interesting jaunt for Connie Del Signore since she began her career in destination marketing in 1991, as executive director of a small Pennsylvania conference and visitors bureau, before making her big leap to Reading, Pa., to serve as president of the Berks County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).

During her seven years in Reading, she initiated the Berks County Sports Commission, co-authored SHOP PA and launched Girlfriends Getaways, making the Berks County CVB the country’s first to package and sell getaway packages to women. During that time, she also debuted on the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (IACVB) board of directors.

It was in 2003 that she moved to Annapolis to become president and CEO of the then-Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) — now known as Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC). Early in her tenure, the sales department went from booking 4,000 room nights annually to more than 60,000 per year, with an annual economic impact to the community of $19 million; by October 2007, she oversaw a $1.4 million renovation and expansion of the CVB offices and visitor’s center.
In December 2007, Del Signore began a two-year term as chairman of the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations; since, she also was appointed by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley to serve a two-year term on the Maryland Tourism Development Board.

She has also successfully worked on three tourism bills: one provides state funding for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and destination marketing organizations; another provides three seats on the Governor’s Maryland Tourism Development Board; and, most importantly, the Tourism Promotion Act, which provides for dedicated hotel tax funding of the VAAAC. That has resulted in VAAAC budget increase from $1.7 million in fiscal 2012 to $3.9 million in fiscal 2016.

What’s the latest on the hotel tax?

That $3.9 million annual budget is based on 78% occupancy. That’s about 10% better than the national average, so it’s been very good for us. It was legislated four years ago, and it basically enabled us to get into the game. To compare, Charleston, Newport and Savannah all have $8 million budgets; Las Vegas has $80 million.

But what we have has done wonders for our area. We’ve gone from 250,000 website visitors to nearly 1 million, which has afforded us a tracking mechanism. Also, know that our partners, who have increased in number from 300 to 700 during the past five years, can see the referrals.

We have also recently decided that, if you’re not a partner but are an asset to our mission, we’re going to white list [give exposure to] you on our website. That inclusion serves our consumers well.

All told, this evolution has worked. We were invited to speak at the Destination International Annual Convention, in Montreal, last month to share the success of changing our model. The odd thing is that people on the street often ask me why we have to market, but everyone has to do that. Even Vegas.

What’s the VAAAC’s TV advertising budget?

About $1.8 million of the budget (five years ago, that figure was $250,000) goes toward advertising; from that figure, the TV budget is about $500,000. Twenty million people live in the mid-Atlantic, so we advertise extensively on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), and I make appearances on TV shows in Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh; then we pitch the travel writers in those markets, and wherever else we advertise.
For instance, when we go to Canada in fiscal 2018, Susan [Seifried, a VAAAC vice president] will meet writers, and John Fulginite [VAAAC community engagement coordinator] will meet reps from CAA (the Canadian version of AAA). The next stream is international.

In case you’re wondering, we’ve tried to market southern cities, but people who live in that region don’t usually travel north.

The NHL’s Washington Capitals will be playing a regular season game at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, in Annapolis, on March 3. How surprised were you to hear that news?

Very. This is like having the Military Bowl all over again. We work closely with the U.S. Naval Academy Athletic Association and are already planning to have some special events around the Caps game, too. As it happens, U.S. Travel is doing a study of the results of such sporting events, which will help us quantify the residual effects.

Speaking of the Military Bowl, what’s new this year?

The fifth event will take place in late December. The year Pitt played Navy, 2015, was the most successful Military Bowl for us, thus far. I remember going on the BWI Marshall web site earlier that [Christmas] week, and every flight between the cities was booked.
So, know that the success of the game doesn’t just affect hotels and restaurants. We don’t know what teams (one from Atlantic Coast Conference, one from the American Athletic Conference) will play in this year’s game, but as soon as we do, we’ll update our web site and will drop ads in those cities. And I know the bowl organizers will work with us on a run, arts walk and other events while people are here.

Another great thing about the event is that it occurs during our slowest hotel week of the year. It’s brought up our Christmas week occupancy to 52%.

Are local Realtors getting involved in tourism?

U.S. Travel has noted how local Realtors love travel and tourism. They know people enjoy visiting Annapolis and might even buy a second home here. That market accounts for $60 million a year.

What’s your biggest challenge today?

Most of the delegation has been here as long as I have, and we have been able to educate them. It’s the newer people who we have to educate all over again, and that can be trying.

But the biggest challenge is figuring out what millennials would like to do in 2030. What do we look like to them, and how do we appeal to millennials? I’m glad to point out, however, that there are still 70 million baby boomers out there, and we spend plenty of money.
And, speaking of challenges, when there is an emergency, we have $100,000 in the bank and a budget for operating expenses. So, we are prepared.

What’s the latest on the VAAAC’s multiple web sites?

We have five web sites, because we target individual interests of our clientele: weddings, food, history and hotels; we also get an ample amount of visits to our general web site. We’re giving the people what they want. Combined, the sites attract a million visits a year, but the shift is more to the niche sites; I predict that, in three years, we won’t have a general site.

As for those observers who say that print media is dead, they should know that any print publications that are targeted to a niche market are doing very well. It’s the general interest publications that aren’t doing as well.

What are some of the trade shows and other sales activities the VAAAC attended to market the county?

We go to about 10 shows a year. Then we do meeting planner events, hope they love it here and plan an event at some point.


What are your observations on the travel ban that has been imposed by the Trump administration?

Stop it. Just stop it. In January, when the ban was announced, there was an immediate 15% dip in air travel because people were confused and cancelling trips because they weren’t sure how they would get home.

However, we saw a 5% increase in May, and we’re building on that. We’re doing an initiative with Canadian FITS (Foreign Independent Travelers) and media, and we’re also working with U.S. Travel’s visa waiver program.

How does your advisory board benefit the VAAAC?

Our board is mostly people who are in our industry. Due to that fact, we decided we needed ambassadors to talk about how their industries (legal, real estate, etc.) benefit from tourism. It’s spearheaded by The Rams Head Group’s Erin McNaboe, and they come to two board meetings a year. They’re blown away when they learn about what we do and how it contributes to Anne Arundel County’s economy.

What is TEAM Anne Arundel County, and how is it going?
We’re just starting the committee. We find an expert, such as the president of U.S. Lacrosse or the U.S. Tennis Association; then our sales team will accompany them to a national sports show and find events that we try to lure here, like Skate America, a figure skating event. It’s been held in Reading, but wants to come here.

What is the tourism industry’s economic impact in the state?
It’s about $16.9 billion. Anne Arundel County leads the state in travel and tourism tax revenue — generating $3.6 billion, which is due to the presence of BWI Marshall and Annapolis.

From the Desk of CA President Milton Matthews

Columbia Association (CA) recently launched two new initiatives — the JumpStart program and a series of New Member Events — with the goal of helping members make the most of their membership.

CA’s membership structure used to be rather complicated. The launch of the new membership structure earlier this year decreased the number of options to six, which include amenities and programs related to fitness, recreation and golf.

While the change to fewer options has been beneficial, even some of our longstanding members still may not know about all the benefits of their membership, particularly members who once may have had only access to the pools or to the tennis clubs; but now, for the same price as before, have much more available to them. Those members now have Play memberships, and they receive access to CA’s pools, Columbia SportsPark and SkatePark, Columbia Ice Rink and CA’s indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

We are working to assist this particular group of members and all other new members in learning about how they can best take advantage of what these facilities have to offer. Each month brings a special free event. This month highlights Columbia Swim Center and SplashDown, for example, while in October the spotlight is on Columbia Ice Rink. More information can be found at
In a similar fashion, the JumpStart program — which launches in October — will provide more assistance to new members at CA’s fitness clubs.

New members will receive two coaching sessions from CA’s personal trainers. These sessions will include discussing the goals they hope to accomplish and any barriers they might perceive. Also, there will be a brief functional movement screening, followed by work with the trainer to design a program, whether it is walking them through specific exercises or recommending certain classes that will better help each member reach his or her goal. Current members are still eligible for a fitness consultation, which offers many similar benefits.

These are important adjustments that will help improve how we engage and assist our members. We have learned that members who feel more knowledgeable earlier on in their membership will be more likely to fully use their membership. Further, we believe they are more likely to remain members into the future and, more importantly, to achieve their personal health and fitness goals.

CA had a head start in the community. There once were not as many options for exercise and recreation. Now there are many more options available in Columbia and beyond. That can be a good thing. Competition prevents complacency.

We are listening and adjusting. Member feedback helps CA make informed decisions about classes, programs and equipment — and ensures that members have the best possible experience. We are proactively soliciting the opinions of members, whether gained through personal interactions or feedback from online survey data.

CA once was the only choice for the Columbia community. Now we are working every day to make sure we remain the best choice.

E-mail with questions/comments.

Schuh Highlights Arundel’s $431M School Construction Plan

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, Councilman Michael Peroutka and Del. Michael Malone recently highlighted the county’s historic $431 million plan to accelerate school construction.

“Three years ago, we promised a major acceleration in our school construction efforts,” said Schuh. “As many here in Arnold may have noticed, it is a promise we have kept. The scene here is one that our citizens are experiencing as projects move forward and dirt starts to turn in every corner of our county.”

Arnold Elementary, in Arnold, is currently undergoing a $41 million, 89,000-square-foot replacement that will serve more than 550 students when complete. Advocates for the project are parents in the nearby community, including Kerry Petz, a former PTA president who frequently testified in favor for a full replacement of Arnold before the Board of Education.

Other projects in the six-year capital plan and funded in fiscal 2018 include the following.
New School/Replacement Projects

• Jessup Elementary (construction), Jessup: $45.2 million

• Crofton High School (construction), Crofton: $124.5 million
Modernization/Revitalization Projects

• Manor View Elementary (construction), Fort Meade: $34.4 million

• High Point Elementary (construction), Pasadena: $40.5 million

• George Cromwell Elementary (construction), Glen Burnie: $32.7 million
• Edgewater Elementary (design), Edgewater: $

40.2 million
• Tyler Heights Elementary (design), Annapolis: $38.1 million

• Richard Henry Lee (design), Glen Burnie: $34.6 million

These capital projects were made possible through the JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project financing program. Enacted in 2015, the plan embraces a 30-year bond financing option. This reform has allowed Anne Arundel County to expand its capital funding program and make critical school, public safety, road and quality of life infrastructure improvements.

Central Maryland Chamber

The Central Maryland Chamber (CMC) has launched a new website. Check out such features as upcoming events, new members, member benefits, reasons to join the chamber and more.

Also, the “2018 CMC Relocation & Business Guide” is here. It’s a regional guide designed to connect residents and businesses to resources and opportunities throughout Central Maryland. If you would like a copy, call the office at 410-672-3422 to schedule a time to stop by the chamber office to pick one up. They’re free.

The CMC’s New Members
Anytime Fitness Jessup
Crusaders for Change
Edible Arrangements, Hanover
First Citizens Bank & Trust Co.
Hatch Exhibits
In His Hands Massage Therapy
Kernel Associates
Prince George’s County Economic
Development Corp.
Renaud Consulting
Tutor Doctor

Upcoming Events

• Thursday, Sept. 28: Central Maryland Tour & Taste
This event begins with a luxury bus tour of the region, highlighting growth and development in Central Maryland. It’s followed by the Taste of Central Maryland, featuring food from our region’s restaurants and networking. Seating is limited, so get your tickets today.
Tour and tasting, $65; tasting only, $10.

• Maryland Is Open for Business Small Business Roundtable, Thursday, Sept. 21: 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 312 Marshall Avenue, 1st floor conference room, Laurel

This event is open to entrepreneurs and business owners seeking guidance on growing or starting a business in Maryland. The informational roundtable is guided by Jan Walker, small business resource representative with the Maryland Department of Commerce; and Nancy LaJoice, membership director with the CMC. Registration is not required for this free event.


Mark Your Calendars
• Sept. 12: Ribbon Cutting at Edible Arrangements
• Sept. 21: Membership 101
Visit for more information.

Howard County Chamber of Commerce

New Digs

The Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) officially has a new address. As of Sept. 5, its offices have relocated to 6240 Old Dobbin Lane, Suite 110, Columbia. The new space locates the HCCC in a more central location, with easy access to the area’s major highways and in close proximity to Columbia Gateway Office Park, Howard County’s largest business center.

Keep an eye out for the announcement of an open house.

New Office, New Administrator

The HCCC has announced the addition of Karen O’Conner as its new office administrator. The Baltimore native, who recently moved to Finksburg, brings considerable work experience to the position — as well as the multi-tasking skills her colleagues assumed she also has, and with a husband and five kids, all of whom are at home.

Elected Officials Meet ’n Greet

The 2017 Elected Officials Meet & Greet attracted more than 130 people to new HCCC member La Palapa Grill & Cantina, on Main Street, Ellicott City, despite some serious rain clouds overhead. Dozens of elected officials, including Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, spent the occasion mixing and mingling with the crowd.

There were also numerous candidates running for the 2018 Howard County Council race in attendance; and, as always, many people representing elected officials and government agencies also came out for the event. Thank you to Premier Sponsor Comcast, and to La Palapa.

Luncheon to Feature Martirano

When we think of September, we think about back-to-school time. On that note, save the date of Sept. 14 for the HCCC’s Member Lunch, which will feature Howard County Public School System Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano.

Martirano will talk about the State of the School System and what’s new this school year, the challenges facing the school system and what the future holds. To register, call 410-730-4111.

A Night of Illusion

Join the HCCC for this year’s Signature Event, “A Night of Illusion,” where more than 500 business, community and political leaders will be entertained by illusionist Jason Bishop.
The evening will begin with a reception with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and plenty of time to mix and mingle. Guests will then be treated to dinner at Turf Valley; then the magic begins with Bishop, who will perform illusions such as double levitation and some slight of hand. There are sponsorship opportunities remaining for the event. Interested parties can contact Kristi Simon at

Startup Maryland Rolls Into Stage Three

Startup Maryland has announced initial dates and route details for Stage Three of the STRT1UP Roadshow, the statewide tour and celebration of entrepreneurship and high-growth innovative startup ventures.
After Stage Three wraps in late November, the entrepreneur pitch videos acquired during the tour will be rendered, edited and posted online for the Pitch Across Maryland competition(s). The Roadshow culminates with the STRT1UP Showcase event in early 2018 (Showcase details to be announced closer to the end of the Roadshow).
The STRT1UP Roadshow Stage Three will kick off on the afternoon of Sept. 12 with several Roadshow tour stops in Frederick County and downtown Frederick. The STRT1UP Roadshow team will tour life science/bio, new wave manufacturing, brewing/distilling and cyber companies. Sponsor BBS will host a discussion on Benefits in Uncertain Times before the day culminates in a celebration of cybersecurity in partnership with the CyberSecurity Association of Maryland (CAMI) at its Frederick Cyber Capabilities Exchange. Serendipity Market will be the venue for this happy hour and pitch convening.
Startup Maryland also has welcomed several new companies as Ecosystem Sponsor-Partners this year, such as the Owings Mills-based Strategic Factory. While Strategic Factory has been a service provider for Startup Maryland in previous years, the company stepped up in 2017 to sponsor and host a Tour Stop that is set for Sept. 14, from 3:30–8:30 p.m., as part of its “Together We Rock!” Annual Open House event.
There is still time to join the celebration; limited dates in September, October and November are filling up fast. Ecosystem partners and sponsors interested in learning more about how the STRT1UP Roadshow supports economic/workforce/venture development, marketing awareness/branding and community engagement efforts are encouraged to contact Startup Maryland Ecosystem Director Mike Venezia at
Below Find a Snapshot of Additional Confirmed STRT1UP Roadshow Stage 3 Stops.
• Sept. 12: Frederick County and City/BBS/CAMI Meetup
• Sept. 14: Strategic Factory Open House and “We Rock” Celebration
• Sept. 19: BBB Baltimore Centennial Celebration Event
• Sept. 26: University of Baltimore Block Party
• Sept. 29–Oct. 7: Baltimore Innovation Week (numerous stops)
• Oct. 5: Harford County Shark Tank Pitch Event
• Oct. 10: Maryland Cyber Day
• Oct. 11-12: CyberMaryland Conference
• Oct. 25: TEDCO Entrepreneur Expo
• Oct. 26: Dorchester/Cambridge/Oysters/Cannabusiness
• Oct. 27: Salisbury University/Quad Party
Visit for regular updates.

A Brave New World: 21st Century Retirement


For better or worse, gone may be the “golden” days of retirement, where anyone over age 65 could look forward to a time of life spent enjoying leisure pursuits. As people live longer and healthier lives, retirement is taking on a new look — one filled with new activities, longer working lives and perhaps even new careers.
To prepare for this new and expanded version of retirement, you should consider developing a financial plan suited to your specific needs and goals. Following are some key factors you will want to consider.

The New Retirement
Retirement Income: A good starting point might be to examine your sources of retirement income. If you pay attention to the financial press, you’ve probably come across at least a few commentators who speak in gloom-and-doom terms about the future for American retirees.
True, there is widespread concern about at least one traditional source of income for retirees, which is Social Security. Under current conditions, Social Security funds could fall short of needs by 2034, according to the Social Security Administration.
However, the reality is that Social Security was always intended to be a supplement to other sources of retirement income. In fact, today Social Security benefits account for only 34% of the aggregate income of retirees.
Even pension plans, once considered a staple of retirement income, account for only 18% (government employee and private pensions combined) of the retirement income pie. In recent years, employers have been moving from traditional defined benefit plans based on salary and years of service to defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, funded primarily by employees.
This shift makes it even more important for individuals to understand their goals and have a well-thought-out plan that focuses on the key source of retirement income: personal savings and investments. Given the potential duration and changing nature of retirement, you may want to seek the assistance of a professional financial planner who can help you assess your needs and develop appropriate investment strategies.
Time: The number of years until you retire will influence the types of investments you include in your portfolio. If retirement is a short-term goal, investments that provide liquidity and help preserve your principal may be most suitable.
On the other hand, if retirement is many years away, you may be able to include more aggressive investments in your portfolio. You will also need to keep in mind the number of years you may spend in retirement.
Inflation: Consider this: An automobile with a price tag of $25,000 today will cost almost $34,000 in 10 years, given an inflation rate of just 3%. While lower-risk fixed-income and money market accounts may play an important role in your investment portfolio, if used alone, they may leave you susceptible to the erosive effects of inflation.
To help your portfolio keep pace with inflation, you may need to maintain some growth-oriented investments. Historically, stocks have provided returns superior to bonds and cash equivalent investments, but keep in mind that stocks generally involve greater short-term volatility.
Taxes: Even after you retire, taxes will remain an important factor in your overall financial plan. If you return to work or open a business, for example, your tax bracket could change and the income you earn might affect the amount of tax you pay on your Social Security benefits.
In addition, should you move from one state to another, state or local taxes could affect your bottom line. Tax deferral offered by 401(k) plans and IRAs may be effective tools for addressing your retirement goals.

Prepare Today
To ensure that retirement lives up to your expectations, begin establishing your plan as early as possible and consider consulting a professional. With proper planning, you can make retirement whatever you want it to be.

John E. Day is a financial consultant with LPL Financial Services, in Columbia. He can be contacted at 410-290-1000, or via

Keeping Beneficiaries Up to Date


As we know, life moves fast. And as the days go by in a blur, updating your list of (or even designating) your beneficiaries can fall to the bottom of your proverbial “to-do” list.
With events such as divorce, marriage or even the birth of a child or grandchild, many events can occur in life that can prompt the need to update beneficiaries.
In general, a beneficiary designation is a way to efficiently pass assets to loved ones. It allows you to transfer certain assets, such as the proceeds of your life insurance policy, a 401(k) or IRA to whomever you want, without going through the probate process.
Listed below are some of the most common questions and facts regarding beneficiary designation and why they’re so crucial to your financial life.
• Who can be my beneficiary? The answer here can vary depending on your current financial situation. If you are single, you can choose anyone you wish. If you are married, your spouse is traditionally chosen as the primary beneficiary. In fact, in some states, you are required to select your spouse as your primary beneficiary on retirement plans or receive consent to name someone different. You also have the option to choose a charitable organization of your choice or name a trust.
• Don’t wait. It’s easy to postpone or procrastinate updating or changing your beneficiaries on old life insurance policies or your 401k from your current or previous employer. If you are reading this article, use this opportunity to remind yourself there is no better time than right now. If you decide to wait and tragedy strikes, your assets may not transfer to whom you wish. Beneficiary designations supersede your will. As an example, if your will lists your current spouse to inherit your IRA, but the primary beneficiary listed on the account is your ex-spouse, then these assets would go to your ex-spouse.
• Don’t forget per stirpes. Most people see that little box on beneficiary forms labeled “per stirpes” and ignore it because they don’t know what it means. With per stirpes, in the event your beneficiary does not survive you, but leaves surviving descendants, any share otherwise payable to that beneficiary shall instead be paid to that beneficiary’s surviving descendants.
• Avoids probate. Probate is the judicial proceeding by which the courts oversee the distribution of your estate and interpretation of your will. Probate can be a lengthy and costly process for the parties involved and it can take sometimes up to a year or more for the process to finalize. Also, probate records are open to the public, so essentially, anyone could see how you left your estate — which most people would like kept private.
Keeping your beneficiaries up-to-date to reflect the changes in your life helps ensure your legacy goals are met. As with any important financial decision in your life, discuss your unique situation with your financial adviser to determine which options are right for you and your family.

Nicholas Ibello is wealth manager and associate vice president; and Gary S. Williams, CFP, CRPC, AIF, is the president and founder, of Williams Asset Management, in Columbia. They can be reached at 410-740-0220, or at or

Business Briefs

CAMI Launches Unique Cyber
Jobs Platform
The Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI) has announced the launch of a state-of-the-art online jobs platform in partnership with Maryland-based SkillSmart. The platform, Maryland Cyber Jobs (MCJ), addresses the chronic shortage across all industry sectors in finding qualified candidates for Maryland cybersecurity positions.
Using a skills-based methodology tailored to each hiring entity, MCJ reduces the time, effort and expense for Maryland employers to find qualified candidates for cyber-related positions. MCJ also helps candidates identify jobs that match their experience and current skills, as well as the skills they need to acquire for the jobs they want. Additionally, the platform identifies Maryland education, training, certification, internship and apprenticeship resources where job seekers can get the skills and experience needed for jobs of interest.
“This platform dramatically reduces the time a hiring organization will have to invest to find best-fit candidates,” said CAMI Executive Director Stacey Smith. “Numerous commercial businesses and cybersecurity companies have told us that using standard job boards is laborious … MCJ directly addresses this shortcoming. Additionally, it’s a platform that connects all three of the critical elements for a successful workforce program: employers; job seekers; and entities that provide the education, skills, training and experience for job seekers.”

CREG Acquires 259 Acres at
Brandon Woods
Chesapeake Real Estate Group (CREG) has acquired approximately 259 acres of land near Fort Smallwood Road in Anne Arundel County from Exelon Corp., at Brandon Woods III. CREG plans to develop up to 1 million square feet of industrial and warehouse space on the site.
Through a partnership with EverWest Real Estate Partners, CREG plans to immediately begin construction on Phase I, which will consist of a 500,000-square-foot, 36-foot clear, speculative industrial building. This mega-warehouse is ideally suited to e-commerce users and targets the largest distribution and fulfillment users in the country. It will be the largest speculative building ever constructed in Anne Arundel County and one of the largest ever built in Maryland.
“With the scarcity of land and suitable development sites available for large-scale warehouse and distribution product, this strategically-located tract presents a tremendous opportunity to continue our e-commerce and industrial building program in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Jim Lighthizer, owner and managing partner of CREG.

Maryland Business Coalition Launches Website Addressing Mandatory Paid Leave
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has announced its participation in the Save Maryland Jobs business coalition. The group includes business leaders in the state who are focused on supporting Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of House Bill 1, which concerns mandatory paid leave.
“Our goal is to ensure that the public is aware the potential still exists for mandatory paid leave to become law. We are not completely out of the woods yet, and the Save Maryland Jobs coalition will do everything we can to increase awareness regarding the legislature’s ability to override Gov. Hogan’s veto,” said Mike O’Halloran, NFIB Maryland state director.
The coalition is composed of NFIB, the Maryland Retailers Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, the Restaurant Association of Maryland, the Maryland Motor Truck Association, the Maryland Society for Human Resources Management State Council, the Service Stations Association and DavCo Restaurants. It recently launched a new website that enables users to identify their legislators and contact them directly.

NOAA Awards $2.3M for UMD Climate Change Research
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is awarding $2,311,491 to the University of Maryland in College Park (UMD) to support ongoing climate change research.
NOAA heads a group of 13 federal agencies in researching the latest climate change trends and disseminating results in a report known as the “National Climate Assessment,” released every four years. UMD — one of NOAA’s primary research partners in this effort — will use the funds to conduct research for the upcoming National Climate Assessment, due to be finalized by next year.
The National Climate Assessment analyzes the effects of global climate change on the environment, agriculture, land and water resources, transportation, human health, human social systems and biological diversity. Researchers use these findings to project major and emerging climate trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.

Columbia-Based MedStar Adopts Newest Breast Cancer Technology
Dr. Maen Farha, director of the MedStar Union Memorial and Good Samaritan Hospital breast centers, is the first physician in the state to offer breast cancer patients electromagnetic wave technology to locate and remove breast lumps that are not detectable by touch. The device, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, uses real-time guidance to deliver a reflector directly into the breast lump, giving a precise target that will be removed with the lump during surgery.
The treatment, known as wire localization, requires a radiologist to insert a wire through the breast to the tumor, to guide the surgeon to the target tissue. But with the wire extending out of the breast skin until the biopsy or surgery, the procedure can be uncomfortable and plagued by scheduling challenges, making the patient experience less than optimal.
“The new technology uses radar to triangulate the reflector already placed in the breast tumor,” said Farha. “Patients can have the reflector inserted anytime within a week before the surgery, so the convenience factor alone is an advancement that we are pleased to be able to offer. More importantly is the level of precision afforded by this technology gives us an increased probability of removing all the cancer.”

New Tenable Program to Help Orgs Close the Cyber Gap
Columbia-based Tenable has unveiled its cutting-edge partner program, Tenable Assure, that positions partners to build long-term, consultative relationships with customers. The crux of the program is to help customers translate raw security data into a metrics-driven program where every business decision factors in cyber exposure.
In recognition of the global shortage of trained security professionals, Tenable Assure also includes the company’s first-ever managed security service provider (MSSP) program. It is designed to provide customers with the flexibility of choosing strategic, cost-effective solutions and custom services to help them address how to manage, measure and reduce their cyber exposure.
“Partners are critical to our mission of empowering organizations to accurately understand, represent and reduce their cyber risk across the rapidly changing modern attack surface,” said John Negron, chief revenue officer, Tenable. “We’re investing in our partners to help them remain competitive in a market that is rapidly evolving, and together we’re building a world-class, revenue-generating machine that will not only accelerate Tenable into the next stage of growth, but benefit our partners directly as well.”

Vheda Health’s National Growth Fuels Expansion
Due to the growth of Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) resident Vheda Health, the company has moved into a new, larger space in Columbia at 8325 Guilford Road. This larger space enables the company to meet the needs of its user base while providing a space to accommodate a larger workforce and operational needs.
Vheda Health has provided health care information technology services to health insurers for more than a half-decade. It employs 25 people across two continents, but started it journey in the MCE with two.
“With a focus on national expansion, it was imperative we identify a new headquarters that could sufficiently accommodate this growth. We can now scale and support our partners the right way. Our platform currently reaches 12 million lives nationally. By early 2018, we expect this reach will double,” said Shameet Luhar, CEO.

Sonatype Adds Native Container Scanning to Nexus Lifecycle
Fulton-based Sonatype has released a new version of its Nexus Lifecycle product, which now includes a built-in service that enables software development teams to automatically and continuously examine the security and quality of open source components used within container images. According to the 2017 DevSecOps Community survey, 88% of information technology (IT) professionals are contemplating new and different approaches to security, as container images are fast becoming an operational standard in DevOps-native environments.
The free service, known as Lifecycle Container Analysis (LCA), gives customers the ability to surface intelligence with respect to the quality of open source components inside of a container image and automatically apply and manage policies based on the results.
“Rather than treating security as an afterthought, high performance technology organizations view containers as an unprecedented opportunity to embed automated security controls into every phase of the software delivery pipeline,” said Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype. “We have hundreds of enterprise customers like Goldman Sachs, Intuit and Liberty Mutual already using Nexus Lifecycle to continuously govern the security and quality of open source components being used within their applications — and beginning today the remarkable intelligence of Nexus Lifecycle has been extended to containers as well.”

New Records Set for BWI Marshall, BaltimoreLink Service Added
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport announced that 2,464,890 passengers traveled through the facility in June 2017, an increase of 5% over June 2016 and a new all-time June record for passenger traffic. It marked the 24th straight monthly passenger record.
For fiscal 2017 (between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017), 25,686,444 passengers traveled through BWI Marshall, an increase of 4.1% and a new fiscal year record. To help meet this growing demand, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) launched BaltimoreLink (LocalLink 75) to create a truly interconnected transit system for the entire region, which includes new service to assist commuters in BWI Technology Park and Baltimore Commons and along Stoney Run Road.

Northrop Team Adopts Latest Matterport Technology
The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate is providing high-resolution photography and interactive three-dimensional (3-D) and virtual reality (VR) experiences using Matterport’s latest Pro2 3-D cameras. The Northrop Team’s use of the new, all-in-one Matterport Pro2 camera will address all photography needs including 3-D and VR.
Using the new technology, homebuyers can visit the team’s online home listings to manipulate 3-D models of home interiors, virtually move through rooms and hallways, and spin views 360 degrees, now including high-res imagery allowing greater zoom capabilities. The new cameras provide 4K-resolution capture for printing, as well as digital photos; 360-degree views and spherical images for space communication; and automated generation of color 2-D and 3-D interactive floor plans; among other features.

Laurel Mayor to Run for Prince George’s County Council
Mayor Craig Moe, a Laurel resident and member of the Democratic party, has announced his intention to file as a candidate for Prince George’s County Council District 1 in the 2018 election.
“As a proven municipal leader, I have a record of accomplishments, bringing people together and getting results to better the community,” Moe said. “I am proud of the accomplishments we have made in Laurel, through partnerships with the community and other elected officials. I would be honored to serve the residents of Council District 1 with the same hard work and dedication I have always provided.”

NSA Accredits Sylint for Cyber Incident Response Assistance
Sarasota, Fla., based-Sylint Group has received accreditation from the National Security Agency (NSA) for Cyber Incident Response Assistance (CIRA). Sylint is now one of only 16 companies in the U.S. recognized by the NSA as having met its standards to provide cyber incident response services to government agencies, public companies, nonprofits and other organizations.
“Sylint is a highly agile team of cyber professionals and licensed investigators able to quickly and discreetly respond to incidents,” said Charles Shugg, brigadier general, USAF (ret.), and a senior partner at Sylint. “We move rapidly to assess the situation, contain the incident, limit damage and help restore our client back to operational status. One of our senior partners is actively involved in every case, giving our clients unprecedented levels of expertise and attention.”

NMS-Backed Anne Arundel Dermatology Management Acquires KDG
Annapolis-based Anne Arundel Dermatology Management (ADM), a portfolio company of New MainStream Capital, has partnered with Knoxville Dermatology Group (KDG). Founded in 1971, KDG is one of the largest private practice groups of board-certified dermatologists in Tennessee, and will benefit from the administrative support provided by Anne Arundel Dermatology Management.
In addition, in June 2017, ADM completed the acquisition of Excel Dermatology in Vienna, Va., a provider of general and cosmetic dermatology services. As part of the affiliation, both KDG and Excel will benefit from ADM’s extensive administrative and support services, including investments in information technology and electronic medical records, revenue cycle management, payer credentialing and contracting, compliance and reporting, human resources, business development and finance.

Cushman & Wakefield Arranges the Sale of Corridor Industrial Portfolio
Cushman & Wakefield has closed the sale of the industrial portfolio on behalf of Exeter Property Group. The buildings, 96% leased at the time of the sale, include 7587 Montevideo Road, 7591 Montevideo Road and 7595 Montevideo Road, all in Jessup; as well as 7100 Old Landover Road, Landover.
“This represents the second-largest industrial portfolio transaction we have arranged in the past week. Investor demand for infill last-mile warehouse in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., region remains white hot,” said Jonathan Carpenter, executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. “These properties are strategically located in the market to service the growing consumer populations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

Loving Heart Assisted Living Home Is Accepting New Clients
Loving Heart Assisted Living Home (LHAL) has announced the launch in Bowie of its full-service assisted living home for seniors. In a time when people are living longer and the baby boomer population is growing, the opening of LHAH offers an opportunity to provide a unique alternative to large facilities, to living with their adult children or in a nursing home.
The home provides 24-hour care and the security of licensed and certified staff. LHAL seeks to ensure that residents are provided a positive experience in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Howard County Honored With Excellence in Procurement Award
Howard County has been honored with the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award by the National Procurement Institute (NPI). Howard County is one of just 48 counties in the U.S and Canada, only six agencies in Maryland, to earn this distinction. This is the ninth consecutive year the county has earned the NPI award.
“The Office of Purchasing’s staff help us make smart and responsible purchasing decisions every day to offer the best value and results for our residents’ tax dollars,” said County Executive Allan Kittleman. “We continue to reach out to our local businesses through our Local Business Initiative. By giving them a fair chance to compete, we are supporting jobs, helping our neighbors and making Howard County more economically sustainable.”

HCGH to Valet Park ER Visitors During Construction
While Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) renovates its emergency room, parking spaces directly outside the ER entrance will be temporarily unavailable; however, other campus parking is available.
The hospital is asking ER patients and families to follow signs directing them to the alternate complimentary parking when entering the campus, which will be provided at the ER entrance through October 2017. The temporary change is part of HCGH’s campus construction project, which involves building a two-story addition and renovating existing space. For more information, visit

DOC Accepting Online Apps for More Jobs for Maryland
The Maryland Department of Commerce (DOC) is accepting applications from manufacturing companies locating to, or expanding in, the state under a new incentive program called More Jobs for Marylanders. The program, Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature job creation legislation during the 2017 legislative session, provides tax incentives for manufacturing companies that create new jobs and provide workforce development resources for employees.
To date, more than two dozen companies, ranging from manufacturers of metal, construction products, wood and food, have filed a notice of intent to utilize the new program, indicating they plan to expand or locate in Maryland.
In addition, program resources include Partnership for Workforce Quality matching grants for workforce training, workforce development scholarships for students in job training programs at community colleges, and a state income tax credit for the first year of employment of an eligible apprentice. To submit an application or obtain additional information, visit

COLA Launches Website, Spotlights Patient Clinical Lab Testing
A new website developed by Columbia-based COLA is focused on raising the awareness of the importance of near-patient testing to early diagnosis and chronic disease management. While the health care system is moving forward with financial incentives to keep people healthy, having the ability to perform clinical laboratory testing at point-of-service is vital to ensuring the health of populations and communities across the country. is a valuable resource to showcase how near patient testing improves the lives of patients. The site was created by COLA in recognition that the health care delivery system is changing at a rapid pace, and sometimes decisions are made without consideration to the total cost of care nor the unintended consequences of those decisions.

Galway Bay Hits No. 6 in Foursquare’s Irish Pub List
Galway Bay Irish Restaurant, located on Maryland Avenue in historic downtown Annapolis, was recently named one of the best 25 Irish pubs in America by Foursquare, according to Business Insider. Foursquare uses location intelligence to build what it terms meaningful consumer experiences and business solutions, and ranked Galway Bay as the 6th Best Irish Pub in the U.S. based on data taken from its Foursquare City Guide.
Opened in 1998, Galway Bay is one of three authentic Irish pubs owned and operated by Emerald Hospitality & Consulting, which also owns and operates Brian Boru, in Severna Park; and Killarney House, in Davidsonville, and The Pirates Cove, in southern Anne Arundel County.

Area Lawn Care Company Again Named to Inc. 5000
Inc. magazine recently released its 36th annual Inc. 5000, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing privately owned companies, and Blades of Green, of Edgewater, was ranked No. 3,694, appearing on the list for the second time in a row. The company has posted $6.4 million in revenue and a three-year sales growth of 82%.
The average company on the list achieved a three-year average growth of 481%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs during the past three years. Complete results of the new Inc. 5000 can be found at

HCC Named One of America’s Best Two-Year Colleges for Adult Learners
For the second year in a row, Howard Community College (HCC) has been named as one of the nation’s top 10 two-year colleges for adult learners, according to rankings released by Washington Monthly. HCC reached No. 7 on the list, with high scores for its ease of transfer, services for adult students and flexibility of programs.
To develop its rankings, Washington Monthly used data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System survey, College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, and the College Scorecard. In addition to ease of transfer services, services and program flexibility, the magazine also looked at the percentage of students over age 25, earnings 10 years after attending college, loan repayment rates, and tuition and fees.

Journalists Recognize VAAAC at Travel Media Showcase
Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC) was awarded the Exhibitor Choice Award during the 18th annual Travel Media Showcase, held in Cabarrus County, N.C., from Aug. 22–25. Seventy-eight journalists from across the United States and Canada were invited to cast their ballots for the exhibitor they felt best represented his/her destination during the annual showcase. VAAAC was selected from a field of 67 destination marketing organizations and suppliers from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
During two days on the marketplace floor, VAAAC Vice President of Communications Susan Seifried met with 29 journalists in pre-scheduled appointments and with dozens of additional media representatives during networking events. The goal was to introduce journalists to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, share story ideas and promote media coverage of destination.

ThinkB!G Launches Mobile Lab for Onsite Apple, Adobe, Microsoft Training
Columbia-based ThinkB!G.LearnSmart has released a new training service called ThinkB!G2GO. It provides clients with an onsite mobile computer lab, software, courseware and training by an industry certified instructor at their location.
ThinkB!G.LearnSmart offers Apple, Adobe and Microsoft training courses as available options to be delivered with ThinkB!G2GO; Apple Mac and/or Windows PC laptops with software and class files installed; delivery and setup of training classrooms; and optional services, such as technical onsite support, Wi-Fi access and projection.
“By bringing the technology onsite, we are able to create a no-hassle experience while increasing the access of training across organizations. This new service is cost-effective, convenient and fully responsive to our clients’ needs,” said Christine Abunassar, founder and CEO.

Interim Superintendent Puts Mark on School System

There’s a reason the local school superintendent is the highest paid official in Howard County: It’s the toughest job in the county, heading the institutions where taxpayers spend the most money and that touch the most lives.

The fierce competition for the top talent also drives up the salaries, and the average superintendent of large urban and suburban school system lasts only about four years in the job. Michael Martirano has only been hired as interim superintendent of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for this school year. He’s clearly acting like he plans to stay much longer, and he hopes as much.
Since he was hired as acting superintendent in May, followed by his one-year appointment, Martirano has been on a whirlwind of activity. Externally, he’s made himself highly visible in the community.

“I’m still building bridges,” he said, in an interview this past month with two writers from The Business Monthly. “I think we’ll be able to heal the organization quickly. I’m operating from a very high level of urgency.”


The previous superintendent, Renee Foose, had achieved much of what the school board which hired her had wanted when it came to student achievement. But her closed management style had engendered a widespread level of hostility from the community and from within the school system; that dissatisfaction led to the defeat of three incumbent school board members, replaced by members bent on removing Foose.

After prolonged acrimony — and Foose suing the board she worked for — and a $1.6 million buyout of her contract, the new board majority got their way and Foose was gone.

Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead. But then what?

They got very lucky that Martirano was waiting in the wings. He had vastly more, and more varied, experience than Foose had brought to the system. He already knew the community, having lived here for 19 years, and he knew the public schools, having served as supervisor of elementary schools.

Earlier in his career, he had been a teacher and a principal of Laurel High School. Following his Howard County service, he became superintendent in St. Mary’s County, in Southern Maryland, and then for the state of West Virginia.

“My return to Howard County is like a dream come true,” Martirano said, after he got the job. “I always wanted to be the superintendent of Howard County, but the timing just never worked itself out.”

Community Outreach

As one small sign of Martirano’s community outreach: He showed up at a happy hour for Howard County bloggers, with a strong representation of candidates and activists. The new super has already set up regular meetings with Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and other elected officials.

Under Martirano, we are not likely to see a repeat of school budgets like this year’s, where the executive needed to cut $54 million the county did not have.

“There is not an endless pot of money available each year,” said Martirano. “I’ve always been able to navigate the difference between wants and needs.”

One of the needs is what he calls “a major problem with capacity.” Thirty-three of the 76 schools are either over capacity or underutilized.

Martirano knows what not having enough space looks like. Outside the window of his office in the HCPSS headquarters, on Route 108, is a modular building holding central office staff.

He’s already rearranged the priorities for the system’s capital program. There will not be a $140 million high school for career and technical education. He’s trimmed the cost to $90 million from $100 million, freeing up the money for other needs.

Also at the top of his needs list is dealing with a $20 million deficit in the school system’s health care spending accounting. He’s also adjusted the operating budget to restore the paraeducators to the media centers in every school, a lack that had “disappointed and chagrined” him.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said two weeks before the start of school. “I never lose sight of what it means to be a teacher.”
That, after all, is the most important thing, what happens in classrooms between children and their teachers. Howard County residents are proud of the reputation of their schools, and they expect them to stay that way. So does Michael Martirano.

McCuan Dies

Developer Patrick McCuan valued education, not surprising for a former professor of social work. McCuan died last month at the age of 76, but left his imprint on Howard County, not just through his commercial properties along Route 100, but in politics and at Howard Community College (HCC).

McCuan and his wife, Jill, were among the largest donors to HCC, where the administration building is named in their honor. McCuan also played a less visible role in Howard County politics, having served as a major fundraiser for the county executive campaigns of Republican Chuck Ecker in 1994 and Allan Kittleman in 2014.

Watson Is Back

Former County Councilmember Courtney Watson is back in the political fray. She announced on social media she will run for the House of Delegates in District 9B, a single member district now represented by Republican Bob Flanagan. Watson, a Democrat, represented much of the same Ellicott City area on the council.
She will face media executive Dan Medinger in the Democratic primary. The district is the only truly swing legislative district in the county, but Flanagan won 55% of the vote in 2014, and is already knocking on doors to run again next year.

Attacking the Media

I was taking a break from editing last month when, at one point, I turned on the TV. And there was the president of the United States on CNN. He started attacking the media.

“But the very dishonest media,” he said. “Those people right up there, with all the cameras.”

It continued. “I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. … They don’t report the facts.”
Then he said the “failing New York Times … is like, so bad,” and accused The Washington Post of being “a lobbying tool for Amazon” because the newspaper is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
What really got me was when he told the crowd that the cameras were being turned off when he attacked the media and CNN.
I was watching the speech on CNN. It carried the whole speech live.
I checked, and the speech was live on MSNBC, but not the whole 75 minutes, as it was on CNN; it was live on Fox, on the other CNN channels and on C-Span.

The “failing New York Times” added more than 300,000 digital subscribers in the first quarter. I’ve worked in Annapolis with three of its current White House reporters. They don’t make things up.
The president said there were very few protesters outside. We could see thousands with our own eyes.

CNN has definitely become more biased in its coverage, particularly anchors like Don Lemon, and its panels. But it still has the best breaking news coverage. The network carried his attacks on it, unedited. It is very hard to report on someone fairly who has no respect for facts. As the old saying goes, “Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

I’m gonna believe my own eyes. And I’m going to try to report facts when I can find them.

Sen. DeGrange to Retire, Del. Beidle Steps In

In a legislature where its leaders hang on into their seventies and even their eighties, Sen. Ed DeGrange did what should not be remarkable last month. He announced he was retiring from the Senate, where he chairs two powerful budget subcommittees.
DeGrange will turn 68 this month, and is finishing his fifth four-year term in the Senate. (The inaccurate Wikipedia summary of his career needs updating.) One of the last of the remaining moderates among Senate Democrats, his Northern Anne Arundel County District 32 has long been targeted by Republicans as a possible pick-up.
After serving one term on the County Council, DeGrange won the seat in 1998 by defeating an incumbent Republican. The more conservative nature of the constituency, which includes BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and Arundel Mills, has long been recognized by Senate President Mike Miller; therefore, DeGrange is allowed to vote against tax increases, and yet hold onto his leadership positions.

Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG) has consistently rated DeGrange, who used to run the family lumber business, as the most business-friendly Democrat in the Senate, with a cumulative score of 69% for his career and an 83% score this year.

Beidle Files

Democrats did not miss a beat protecting their veto-proof majority in the Senate, where they hold 33 of 47 seats. Del. Pam Beidle, completing her third term in the House, quickly filed for the Senate.
Beidle served two terms on the Anne Arundel County Council. Until recently, she had long headed her own insurance agency, making her one of the minority of legislators with experience running their own business.

Her MBRG lifetime score is only 47%, but among the liberal Democrats in the House of Delegates, that is still a respectable number. MBRG’s top House Democrat, Baltimore County’s Eric Bromwell, scores only 10 points higher. Beidle has also consistently been the top vote-getter among the delegate candidates in her district.

District 32 is one of five Senate districts Maryland Republicans have targeted, so State GOP Chair Dirk Haire quickly put out a statement attacking Beidle.

“It’s unfortunate that, once again, the Maryland Democratic Party is almost certain to anoint an extremist like Pam Beidle to replace a mainstream Democrat like Ed DeGrange,” Haire said. “Beidle was a co-sponsor of the Sanctuary State bill. She was the lead sponsor of the ‘Road Kill Bill.’ She voted in favor of 47 different tax and fee increases during the O’Malley administration.”

The number of tax and fee increases Beidle supported is certainly inflated, a higher number than Larry Hogan used when running for the job. Beidle also opposed some of the major tax increases proposed during the O’Malley years. In the 2007 Special Session during her first year in the House, Beidle voted against O’Malley’s major tax package that raised income and corporate taxes. She also opposed the 2013 gas tax hike.

If sponsoring the transportation scoring bill, which Gov. Larry Hogan dubbed the “Road Kill Bill,” makes Beidle an extremist, then DeGrange is one, too. He was the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the transportation legislation that Hogan vetoed, but the legislature overrode.

“Pam Beidle does not represent her constituents, and we look forward to contrasting her voting record that has been consistently against Gov. Hogan’s agenda,” Haire said.

Republicans will have to come up with a strong candidate — and some better opposition research — if they hope to regain the District 32 Senate seat.

Busch Recovery

While DeGrange is retiring, House Speaker Michael Busch, 70, has no such plans, despite his recent liver transplant. Busch has been in the legislature 31 years, and even before he got half a liver from one of his sisters on June 1, he had filed for reelection. He is already the longest serving speaker in Maryland history, with 15 years in the job. After a couple of months recuperating at home in Annapolis, Busch is easing back into the job, and has returned to his corner office in the State House.

He didn’t need to be back in August for the vote that removed the statue of U.S. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney from the front of the State House. The vote by the State House Trust that includes the speaker, the governor and the Senate president was taken by email, and the statue was yanked quickly, late at night, the following day.
The move was popular with Democrats, who criticized Senate President Mike Miller for his defense of Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision that declared enslaved Negroes were property, with no rights as citizens. Miller found other decisions by Taney during his 28 years on the high court worthy of State House honors.

The vote to remove Taney’s statue after 145 years was a reversal for Hogan, spurred by the recent racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the removal of other Confederate statues. Taney had been a slaveholder, but he was not a Confederate. He swore in Abraham Lincoln, but had tried to constrain Lincoln’s use of war powers.
Some Republicans have harshly criticized Hogan for the decision to remove this symbol of Maryland’s southern “heritage,” saying they will not vote for his re-election next year.

Schuh on Schools

As the school year opens, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh was highlighting the amount of money he’s been putting into school construction, made possible by lengthening the time the county has to repay bonds for school construction from 20 years to 30 years.

This is much like extending a car loan from three to five years, allowing someone to buy a bigger and better automobile. The bonding move expands the county’s debt capacity, but also raises interest costs over the life of the bond. Interest rates continue to be at historic lows, Schuh points out.

The county now has $431 million in school construction in the works. Some of its key components are the building of a $45 million replacement for Jessup Elementary School, a replacement elementary school in Arnold and a $125 million new Crofton High School.

The expansion of school construction was a key promise from Schuh’s 2014 election campaign, particularly the long-advocated construction of a Crofton high school.

Past, Future of Courthouse Figure in Current Events

The Howard County Planning Board moved plans for a new Circuit Courthouse a step closer to reality in August, unanimously approving zoning amendments for the proposed site at 9250 Bendix Road in the Oakland Ridge Industrial Park.

The amendments identify the courthouse and its related uses as permitted uses in Employment Center-Industrial zoning.
In a presentation before the board, Department of Planning and Zoning Plan Review spokesman Derrick Jones said the 69-acre lot in question currently contains the existing 190,500-square-foot Dorsey Building and a parking lot.

“The courthouse could be designed and built as two separate structures; we’re leaving that to the concessionaire to decide,” said the county’s Department of Public Works Chief of Bureau Facilities Daryl Paunil.

In seeking the amendment, the county, which is in the process of pursuing a public-private partnership to deliver the courthouse, wants to ensure that ancillary uses tied to the courthouse (such as states attorney and public defender offices) would also be permitted within the new zoning. About 60,000 to 80,000 square feet of space is being leased to house displaced government offices in order to make the Dorsey site available, Paunil said.

“Another option we’d like to have [for this property] is to come back at a later date and possibly build [another] office building for county use to move those groups out of leased space and save the county money,” he said.


Confederate Memorial

On Aug. 22, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced the removal of a Confederate memorial located outside the courthouse in Ellicott City following completion of the historic review process. The memorial will be donated to the Howard County Historical Society Museum.

“It has become increasingly clear in recent months that memorials such as this are hurtful to many residents in our community and elsewhere,” Kittleman said. “Given these feelings and the tragedy in Charlottesville, I felt compelled to remove this memorial from public property.”

The Historical Society Museum plans to include the memorial in its “Fractured County” Civil War exhibit.

County Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) said removing the memorial ensures that public spaces are open and comfortable to all citizens and visitors.

“We can’t forget that this symbol and symbols like this represent hate and cause many people pain,” Weinstein said. “The monument is not representative of who we are as a community today and does not belong on grounds of a building that represents justice.”

According to Maryland Historical Trust records, the memorial was dedicated on Sept. 23, 1948. A former Howard County Circuit Judge, William Henry Forsythe, Jr., appears to have been responsible for accepting and placing the memorial on the courthouse grounds.

Howard’s Candidates

As of Aug. 30, a total of 14 candidates have declared their intentions to run for Howard County Council, where four of the five council seats will be vacant next year due to term limitations.

In District 1, incumbent Jon Weinstein is running for reelection, joined by Republican Raj Kathuria, of Ellicott City.

Republican John Liao, of Ellicott City, and Democrat Opel Jones, of Columbia, are vying for the District 2 seat currently held by Democrat Calvin Ball.

Contenders for Democrat Jen Terrasa’s District 3 seat include Republicans Christiana Rigby, of Columbia; Steve Hunt and Hiroy Hadgu, of Savage; along with Democrat Gregory Jennings, of North Laurel.

In District 4, Republican Lisa Kim, of North Laurel, and Democrats Byron MacFarlane and Deb Jung, both of Columbia, are seeking to replace outgoing Democrat Mary Kay Sigaty.

And in District 5, announced contenders for Republican Greg Fox’s seat include Democrat China Christine Williams, of Ellicott City, along with Republicans Jim Walsh of Columbia and David Yungmann of Woodbine. Keith Ohlinger of Woodbine withdrew from the District 5 Republican primary race.

In the county executive’s race, incumbent Republican Allan Kittleman has announced his reelection bid, and Republican Darren Vilus, of Columbia, has also filed as a candidate.

Former School Board and County Council Member Courtney Watson (D), meanwhile, announced her intention to enter the race for State Delegate in District 9B.

Back to School

On Aug. 31, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano announced the expansion of the Let’s Rethink Lunch Healthy Meals Program to all elementary schools.

Piloted in April 2016 in three elementary schools — Bollman Bridge, Laurel Woods and Talbott Springs — the program is part of a partnership with the Horizon Foundation to promote the link between nutrition, education, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. The program gives students access to a wider range of high quality, healthy options for school meals and expands to all elementary schools at the start of the 2017–18 school year.
Martirano, meanwhile, confirmed his interest in being considered a candidate in the Howard County Board of Education’s search for a full-time superintendent.

“I’ve been hired as the interim and acting superintendent, and I have a job to do for this Board of Education,” Martirano said. “I’m trying to stay out of all those conversations, so it’s not uncomfortable and without making it a distraction, but I have signaled that I’m interested. But first, I have a job to do for kids in Howard County.”

Nonprofit News & Charitable Giving

Howard County’s P&Z Academy Intended to Facilitate Resident Involvement
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) have created the first annual PlanHoward Academy, to be held this fall, providing county residents with an opportunity to learn about the planning and zoning process. The two-hour sessions will include hands-on learning exercises accompanied by concise take-home materials. Participants will learn how to access information through DPZ’s interactive map and web-based tools. Participation is free.
The first Academy will offer classes at Howard Community College on four consecutive Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. (Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 11 and 18). Participants who attend all four classes will receive a certification of completion. This first Academy can accommodate up to 25 residents.
The goals of the PlanHoward Academy are to provide effective tools to engage in future planning efforts; to educate the public as to how growth policy is shaped, the role of the general plan, the development review process, zoning codes and more; and teach participants how to access information through DPZ’s interactive map and web-based tools.
“The PlanHoward Academy is geared for the layperson interested in land use and development decisions in Howard County. This multi-step training course will provide a unique opportunity for participants to better understand the fundamentals of planning and zoning, as well the county’s land development process,” said DPZ Director Valdis Lazdins.
To apply, go to and click on the online application. Paper applications can be obtained at DPZ’s service counter at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. For more information, contact Kristin O’Connor, DPZ’s division chief of Comprehensive and Community Planning, at or 410-313-2350.

CARF International Awards Chrysalis House Highest Accreditation
Chrysalis House, a nonprofit provider of substance and mental health disorder treatment for women 18 and older in Crownsville, recently received a three-year accreditation from CARF International, an agency (originally founded as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) that is committed to excellence in rehabilitation facilities. Chrysalis House provides a warm, nurturing environment for mothers and their children, with a 24/7 residential program and an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for women seeking ongoing outpatient treatment support.
The organization also operates Chrysalis House Healthy Start (CHHS), a statewide diagnostic and transitional program for pregnant non-violent offenders, providing comprehensive diagnostic, treatment and transitional services to prevent recidivism to multiple high-cost service systems.
The accreditation represents Chrysalis House’s commitment to strict conformance to CARF standards and a rigorous peer review process. “The preparation process for the survey was both challenging and invigorating and involved a great deal of project management and an overall team effort,” said Chris McCabe, executive director of the facility.
PowderHorn Consulting was brought on board to assist Chrysalis House in the approval process to assure provision of programs and services that are measurable, accountable and of high quality. The three-year accreditation is the highest a rehabilitation facility can earn, and is on the cutting edge of the state of Maryland’s requirement that, by July 2018, all rehabilitation facilities in the state must be CARF accredited.

Applications Being Accepted for Youth Services Commission Grants
In the City of Laurel, applications are now being accepted for Fall Youth Services Commission Grants until Oct. 31. Grants will be awarded Dec. 15. Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and the Laurel City Council created the commission to identify, monitor and evaluate youth services, programs and activities offered in Laurel and the surrounding area.
The commission will provide limited financial support to those qualifying youth organizations that are not-for-profit and serve the Laurel area communities, with at least 10% of the participants living in the city. Applications for April 2018 grants will be accepted in January and February 2018.
To apply for a grant, visit For more information, call Joanne Barr at 301-725-5300, ext. 2307.

Arundel’s Schuh Announces Transportation Reform
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has consolidated the county’s transportation services and planning functions into one operating unit under the Transportation Officer. Effective with the fiscal 2018 budget, the transportation operating unit will be responsible for multi-modal transportation networks while guiding the expansion of the transportation system for planning, coordination and development of mobility management strategies for the county.
“Consistent with my vision to make government more efficient, this unified effort by officials from the Department of Aging and Disabilities, and the Office of Planning and Zoning will bring greater focus and accountability as we work to improve our transportation infrastructure and transit systems,” said Schuh. “This is another demonstration of our administration making county government work better for the people.”
The consolidation will focus on the demand-response and para-transit services for older adults and individuals with disabilities, as well as transit planning and support, including grant management; contract management; and related service delivery, pedestrian and bike access, travel forecasting and the Transportation Master Plan. These functions previously were managed separately by the Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Office of Planning and Zoning, respectively.
The consolidation effort will be led by Ramond Robinson, who was appointed transportation officer in October 2016. Robinson has extensive national experience in transportation planning and services. For more information, call 410-222-7440.

HCCA to Present Local Art Collection
“Selections from The Rouse Co./The Howard Hughes Corp. Art Collection,” a special exhibit celebrating the pivotal role the arts have had in advancing the ideals of Columbia and inspiring the community, will be presented this month by the Howard County Center for the Arts (HCCA), 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City.
A reception will be held on Sept. 6, from 6:30–9 p.m., featuring discussions and presentations reflecting on art’s role throughout Columbia’s past, present and future. Former Rouse employees will serve as guest docents and share “insider” insights about the collection. Featured artists Vicki Scuri, Mary Ann Mear and Rodney Carroll will take part in informal Q&A sessions about the public art installations in Downtown Columbia, and William Cochran of Cochran Studio will talk about the transformational role of public art in cities across the country. A second reception will be held on Sept. 15, from 6–8 p.m., as part of the HCCA’s annual grant awards presentation with County Executive Allan Kittleman (who has been invited). RSVP to

New Date: Oceania CultureFest Set for Oct. 22 at HCLS’s Miller Branch
The community is invited to participate at the Oceania CultureFest, which will celebrate the cultures of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. This free family event will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at Howard County Library System’s Miller Branch, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City.
The event is hosted by Columbia Association (CA) and Howard County Library System (HCLS). For more information, contact Laura Smit, program manager for CA’s International Exchange and Multicultural Programs, at 410-715-3162 or

Apple Ford Lincoln Partners With Neighbor Ride
Neighbor Ride has announced the renewal of its partnership with Apple Ford Lincoln, of Columbia. Through this partnership, Apple Ford Lincoln has sponsored the nonprofit’s signature car magnets. The magnets bearing Apple Ford Lincoln’s logo can be seen throughout the county and beyond, with 25-40 Neighbor Ride volunteers on the road each day.
Neighbor Ride is a volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the health and quality of life for Howard County’s older residents by providing transportation for various personal needs. Since services were launched in November 2004, Neighbor Ride’s volunteers have provided nearly 140,000 trips for local seniors.

McCeney March Set for Sept. 23
Saturday Sept. 23, the Laurel Historical Society (LHS) will hold its second annual McCeney March through Historic Laurel. Held in memory of former LHS Board Chair and President Jim McCeney, the event will raise funds for a scholarship for students interested in history and the LHS.
The walk will start at the Society, 817 Main Street, Laurel. Pre-registration is $10 for children under 18, $20 for adults, $50 for a family registration (four persons of any age). Details and sign-up forms for the walk and for sponsorships can be found at

HCC Sets Meeting Schedule for
Fiscal 2018
The board of trustees has set the following dates for its work sessions, regular meetings and committee meetings during fiscal 2018. Meetings start at 6 p.m. in the Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall (RCF), Room 400, unless otherwise noted.
• Tuesday, Sept. 19: Work session, regular meeting
• Wednesday, Oct. 25: Work session, regular meeting
• Wednesday, Nov. 29: Work session, regular meeting
• Thursday, Dec. 14: Abbreviated meeting, followed by closed session (start time 5 p.m., and location: RCF 401)
All changes or additions to the meetings will be announced on the news page of the HCC website:

Leadership Essentials Holds Informational Events
Leadership Essentials Howard County and Leadership Essentials Baltimore County, which are six-month leadership development programs for young professionals, will hold an informational event prior to the 2018 program launch this fall. The event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., at The Ale House, 6480 Dobbin Center Way, Columbia.
Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management offers Leadership Essentials in collaboration with Leadership Howard County and the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce. The application deadline is Oct. 6 and the programs begin in December. RSVP to; to learn more, visit

LHC Seeks Community Impact Project Proposals for LE
Does your nonprofit organization have a project or issue that it doesn’t have the time, expertise or staff to address? If so, getting involved in a Leadership Howard County’s (LHC) Community Impact Projects (CIP) may be the answer.
An information session will be held at Loyola University Maryland’s Columbia Campus from 8:30-9:30 a.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, for CIPs for Leadership Essentials (LE), a program of LHC. Applications are due on Oct. 9. For more information, contact Laurie Remer at

‘The Heidi Chronicles’ Opens 25th Season at Rep Stage
Rep Stage, the professional regional theater in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), opens its 25th season with Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles,” directed by Jenna Duncan. The Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy traces the coming of age of Heidi Holland, a successful art historian, as she tries to find her bearings in a rapidly-changing world.
“The Heidi Chronicles” is being presented in a limited run through Sept. 24 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) at HCC, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. There will be post-show discussions on Sept. 10 and 22. Rep Stage also will hold a pre-show lecture prior to the 2 p.m. performance on Sept. 23. For tickets and additional information, visit or call 443-518-1500.

Columbia BikeAbout Spotlights Columbia’s History on Sept. 23
Columbia Association’s (CA) annual BikeAbout will be held Saturday, Sept. 23, with riders setting off from the dock at Lake Elkhorn. The free and informative tour presents Columbia’s history and showcases the connectivity of its pathway system.
Preregistration is not required but is encouraged via Columbia BikeAbout will begin at 9:30 a.m., with riders able to start up until 10 a.m. They are expected to complete the ride by 1 p.m. Following the ride, participants will have the opportunity to refuel and have fun at the Owen Brown Festival, which begins at noon.
This year’s route is 10 miles long and winds through the villages of Owen Brown, Oakland Mills and Long Reach. For more information, email or call 410-715-6781.

Coaches Corner for Age 45-Plus Comes to Columbia
Coaches Corner, a presentation of Higher Ed–UMBC Training Center, Columbia, is set for 5–9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Employers continue to scramble for seasoned, well-qualified talent for hard to fill cybersecurity, information technology and engineering positions. Job seekers, unemployed and searching while employed, age 45-plus, typically take close to a year to find suitable employment. But Turning Point Solutions is bridging the gap by hosting its fifth event.
Coaches Corner is free for professionals seeking their next career move. They are invited to register at

Apply for 2018 Rising Star Performing Arts Competition, Win $5K
The Rising Star Performing Arts competition is open to performers, including individuals and ensembles (with a maximum of four members), ages 18–35, who live, train, work or perform regularly in Howard County or have done so in the past.
Review criteria include artistic expression, technical ability and stage presence. Up to 10 selected finalists will perform at the Howard County Arts Council’s (HCAC) annual benefit gala, Celebration of the Arts in Howard County, on March 24, 2018, at Howard Community College’s Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center, Columbia.
Applications for the 2018 Rising Star Performing Arts Award are available in the Explore | Opportunities for Artists & Arts Groups section at Applications may also be requested from the HCAC at 410-313-2787 or via email at The early no-fee application deadline is Oct. 1. Applications submitted between Oct. 2 and the final deadline of Nov. 1 must be accompanied by a $10 application fee.
For more information and eligibility requirements, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit

24 Baltimore, Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults Celebrate 10 Years
The 24 Foundation, formerly known as 24 Hours of Booty, is back for its 10th year in Maryland. During that span, 24 Baltimore has partnered with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, donating 85 cents of every dollar raised to the organization, as well as the LIVESTRONG Foundation. 24 Baltimore’s efforts have largely impacted UCF’s programming, budget and ability to serve young adults and their loved ones that have been impacted by cancer.
Since the partnership, UCF has more than tripled its budget and the organization will reach the $20 million mark this year. Additionally, 24 Baltimore supports UCF’s scholarship program. The program awarded 21 scholarships in 2007 and now presents more than 36 annually.
This year’s 24 Baltimore event is on Saturday, Sept. 23–Sunday, Sept. 24 from 2 p.m.–2 p.m., at The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. For more information, visit

Meeting House Gallery Presenting Laurel Art Guild Plus One
The Meeting House Gallery is presenting Laurel Art Guild Plus One, which features work by John Cholod, Veselin Culibrk, Sally Davies, Tom Kirby, Carol Leo, Barbara Mertens, Ofelia Moore, Alice Murray, Catherine Nickle, Eve Secunda, Diane Shipley, Mary Ellen Simon, Linda Williams and Paula Darby.
These works include watercolor, oil on canvas, acrylic, pastels, color pencil and painted wood. The exhibit will run until Oct. 28. The gallery is located in The Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

ManneqART Announces 2017 Competition Winners
Howard County-based ManneqART, an international arts and education nonprofit, announced the winners of its 2017 national Sculptural Artworks Competition, including Best Overall and Best in each of four theme categories.
Fifty-four artworks were submitted this year by 48 artists from around the U.S. Until mid-November, ManneqART sculptures will be on display in multiple locations throughout the region. Awards and a live floor show of the artworks on models will be featured at the Nov. 5 ManneqART Masquerade and Annual Awards Gala at Ten Oaks Ballroom, in Clarksville.
The 2017 overall ManneqART Master Award winner is Stacy Levy, of Owings Mills, who won a $3,000 prize for her artwork entitled “Vortex Rider.”
The Theme Award winners (of $1,000 each) are as follows.
• Eco Award: “Fleur D’Art,” by Karen Brand, Halethorpe, and Gerri Hanus, Laurel
• Aviation Award: “Blue Bird of Happiness,” by Sharon Garry, Catonsville
• Ocean Award: “The Agony & the Ecxta-Sea,” by Doreen Reynolds, Highland
• Energy Award: “Spectator,” by Liz Ayerle, Philadelphia
More information about ManneqART and upcoming events is available at

Laurel Mayor, Police Department Host Iraqi Delegation
The City of Laurel and the Laurel Police Department recently served as hosts to a delegation from Iraq touring the United States to learn about community policing. The event was part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
The delegation’s objective during its three-week visit to the United States was to explore community policing and examine the critical role of transparency and accountability in law enforcement.
“Police departments function better when officers interact with people every day,” Mayor Craig Moe told the group. “That trust has to be there.”
Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin told the visitors that community policing is paramount to successful resolutions of many community issues. “We work very had to be transparent,” he said. “It’s very important that those relationships are maintained.
The delegation members, many from Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior, were interested in learning about resources; cooperation between federal, state and local agencies; and how to get officers to buy into community policing. In the words of Cpl. Joseph Johnson, the unofficial ambassador of Laurel’s community policing effort, “Officers have to be approachable. That’s why I like patrolling on a bike or Segway, rather than encased in a steel patrol car. My message, especially to the youngsters who flag me down to talk, is there’s more to being a police officer than just arresting people.”
City Councilman Fred Smalls helped facilitate the visit, the fifth such event Laurel has hosted in the past four years. Delegations from Estonia, Egypt, Colombia and Palestine have also visited Laurel as part of the program.

Experts to Discuss Enhancing Columbia’s Older Neighborhoods
on Oct. 25
Columbia’s 50th Birthday hasn’t just been about celebrating the past, but about imagining the future as well. Columbia Association’s (CA) next Community Building Speakers Series event seeks to answer question concerning this topic.
“Enhancing Columbia’s Neighborhoods: Learning From Best Practice,” will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m., at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia.
The event will feature Paul Brophy and Mark Sissman, noted experts with deep roots in Maryland, to help frame both the challenges and the opportunities for renewing older neighborhoods. These neighborhoods still offer a good quality of life and are more affordable — but due to the community’s aging housing stock may be in danger of decline, unless steps are taken to improve investment conditions.
Brophy is a principal with Brophy & Reilly, an Ellicott City consulting firm specializing in economic development and neighborhood revitalization, Sissman is the president of Healthy Neighborhoods, a Baltimore community development nonprofit organized by financial and philanthropic institutions. Advance registration is not required but is appreciated. Register online at

CAC Announces Howard’s 2017 Humanitarian Service Award Recipients
The Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) has selected Sen. Guy Guzzone and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman to receive the organization’s 2017 Humanitarian Service Award for their commitment to securing a permanent location for the Howard County Food Bank.
Guzzone and Kittleman will be recognized at the 22nd Annual Holland Award Dinner, which will be held on Thursday, Oct. 19, at Turf Valley Resort, in Ellicott City. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Food Bank moved into its new facility at 9385 Gerwig Lane, Suite J, Columbia, last November. The new facility is approximately 8,000 square feet — three times larger than the previous location — and gave it space to store more food, extend its operating hours and serve more families. The result has been a 22% increase in new family visits.
In CAC’s 2017 Fiscal Year, the Howard County Food Bank provided more than 650,000 pounds of food to more than 27,000 individuals.

Glaser Brings ‘Landscapes and More’ to Artists’ Gallery
In September, Artists’ Gallery will feature original watercolor paintings by local artist Bonita Glaser. The show will run until Sept. 24, with an opening reception set for Saturday, Sept. 9, from 6-8 p.m., at the Artists’ Gallery, 8197 Main Street, Ellicott City.
Glaser also will conduct a watercolor demonstration on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Gallery from 5 to 8 p.m., in participation with the Howard County Road to the Arts. The public is invited to come and see her paintings, along with the work of 24 other members of the Gallery.

“Landscape watercolor painting is both challenging and enjoyable,” said Glaser. As a plein air painter, I have no trouble finding subjects to paint in Maryland. Every vista has potential as a beautiful subject for a painting. Whether by the ocean or the mountains or in-between, I see places where I want to stop, setup my easel and begin painting. Most recently, I have found scenes just outside the door of the Artists’ Gallery.”
For more information, call 443-325-5936 and visit

Take an Action Step, Reduce Regulatory Business Burdens

Through Oct. 16, every citizen so inclined has the opportunity to make an individual comment on the record to let the federal government, specifically the Small Business Administration (SBA or agency), know what would help reduce existing regulatory burdens to small business.

On Aug. 15, a Request for Information (RFI) was published in the Federal Register, titled “Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Burden,” requesting public comments.

In this RFI, the SBA is seeking input from the public on identifying which of the agency’s regulations should be repealed, replaced or modified because they are obsolete, unnecessary, ineffective or burdensome. This process of evaluating and identifying such regulations comports with the mandate in various executive orders to reduce the number and costs of the regulations that federal agencies impose on the public.

This official “comments” process is not window dressing. Every comment is actually read and recorded and then taken into account by the agency and legislators as they draft rules, regulations and laws that affect every business. While many people do not think that taking the time to respond is effective, it is absolutely effective and necessary if one desires change in the regulatory burdens to business.

National advocate Ann Sullivan, president of Madison Services Group, said, “Without advocacy, the government keeps adding rules that cost businesses time and money. Advocacy starts with business owners. It is not reserved for organizations or professional advocates, like me.”

In this case, the SBA has formulated nine specific questions, but also encourages the public to add additional information not included in the questions. In layman’s terms, it is important to comment if one agrees or disagrees with proposed rules and regulations.

It is a mistake to assume that, if one agrees, it is not necessary to comment. This is because the agency or legislators will only see the comments, and if only those who disagree take the time to write in, it appears that no one agrees and the rules may then change without taking into account those that agree.

The SBA requests that commenters identify the specific regulation at issue and explain, in as much detail as possible, why the regulation should be streamlined, expanded or repealed, including estimated cost savings and benefits to small businesses and other stakeholders.
The following nine questions asked are intended to help the public understand what is being asked, but are not intended to limit responses.

1. Are there SBA regulations that have become unnecessary or ineffective and, if so, what are they?

2. Are there SBA regulations that can be repealed without impairing SBA’s regulatory programs and, if so, what are they?

3. Are there SBA regulations that have become outdated and, if so, how can they be modernized to better accomplish their regulatory objectives?

4. Are there SBA regulations that are still necessary, but which have not operated as well as expected, such that a modified approach is justified, and what is that approach?

5. Are there SBA regulations or regulatory processes that are unnecessarily complicated or could be streamlined to achieve regulatory objectives more efficiently?

6. Are there any technological developments that can be leveraged to modify, streamline or repeal any existing SBA regulatory requirements?

7. Are there any SBA regulations that are not tailored to impose the least burden on the public?

8. How can SBA best obtain and consider accurate, objective data about the costs, burdens and benefits of existing SBA regulations?
9. Are there any specific suggestions of ways SBA can better achieve its regulatory objectives?

The process to submit comments is identified by its Docket Number (SBA–2017–0005) using any of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal at Identify comments by ‘‘Docket Number SBA–2017–0005, Reducing Regulatory Burden RFI,’’ and follow the instructions for submitting comments. Another option is to mail responses to Holly Turner, Regulatory Reform Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20416.

The SBA will post all comments on
It is required to leave one’s complete name, address and contact information as part of the comments process. The comments are then posted in full at

There is an option to submit confidential business information (CBI) as defined in the User Notice at To do so, highlight the information that you consider to be CBI, and explain why you believe this information should be held confidential and submit the information to Holly Turner at the above address. SBA will review the information and make the final determination as to whether to publish the information.

This RFI was prompted by President Trump’s Executive Orders 13771 and 13563. The Executive Order 13771 requires the agency to (i) identify at least two existing regulations that the agency can cancel; and (ii) use the cost savings from the cancelled regulations to offset the cost of the new regulation. Executive Order 13563 requires that agencies conduct a retrospective review of their regulations to seek more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve policy goals, and to give careful consideration to the benefits and costs of their regulations.

Additional orders also require agencies to review existing rules to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make the U.S. economy less competitive. For full RFI content, visit the official link at

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov, in Linthicum. Email, visit or call 866-579-1346 for more information.