Archived Articles: December 2017

Possible Construction Consequences

 

Vigorous residential and commercial construction activity can currently be seen up and down the Route 1 Corridor, at Odenton Town Center, in downtown Columbia, in Savage and in Maple Lawn. Other major projects are set to begin shortly, among them the renovation of Long Reach Village Center, and the initiation of activity at Laurel Park Station and Konterra Town Center East.

It’s a good time to be a developer or a subcontractor, particularly after the long, dry period of The Great Recession. But ask around, and they’ll all confess to sharing the same problem: a skilled labor shortage that’s making it difficult to plan jobs, maintain pricing and finish projects on time.
It’s not a localized problem, and it’s also not something that happened overnight.

The Associated General Contractors of America’s (AGC) 2017 Workforce Survey, released in August, indicates that 70% of respondents nationwide are having problems filling some hourly craft positions. In fact, 50% or more of these respondents reported difficulty finding plumbers, concrete workers, electricians, bricklayers and carpenters.

Only 14% rated the adequacy of the pipeline for supplying well-trained craft personnel as “good,” while the largest contingents — 36% and 38%, respectively — rated it “fair” or “poor.”

AGC’s analysis of the survey results suggests “significant short-term and long-term implications for the broader U.S. economy,” including higher construction costs, slower schedules and a slowdown in broader economic growth.
Later that month in Columbia, a panel discussion at the Maryland Construction Network’s Construction Industry Summit, hosted by Baltimore-based insurance advisory firm RCM&D, focused on development, the current state of the industry and upcoming work in Howard County.

Sign of the Times

At the Maryland Construction Network’s Construction Industry Summit, held in Columbia and hosted by the Baltimore-based RCM&D insurance advisory firm, Harkins Builders Director of Project Development Stephen Rubin said his Columbia-based company is feeling the pain of the labor market.

“Hiring people today is extremely challenging. We’ve been told we’re too serious, and people don’t want to work that hard,” he said.

It’s certainly a testament to the company’s reputation as a hard-charging firm that upholds an intimidating standard, but in the view of Justin LaChat, business development manager for Columbia-based Morgan-Keller Concrete Construction, it’s also a sign of the times.

“Old-school carpenters and construction workers are retiring, and nobody’s replacing them,” he said. “They have a lot of expertise using the old, simple tools of their trade, but the younger generation coming in doesn’t want to use a mason’s string line; they want to use electronic gadgets with lasers that cost a lot of money, because that’s all they know.”

As a result, Morgan-Keller’s current search for a layout technician is proceeding slowly, LaChat said, “because it’s a skill that not a lot of people have, and it’s usually the older generation that has acquired it.”

Steamfitters and pipefitters are particularly hard to recruit at the moment, said Harkins Builders Project Executive Rick Kottke.

“It’s frustrating, because we have a lot of college graduates who can’t find jobs, but they don’t want to consider construction jobs, even though they’re available and pay very well,” he said. “One of the alternatives builders might have to consider is prefabricated, modular components.”

Tight Market

According to Scott Armiger, president of Ellicott City-based Orchard Development, the skilled labor market is so tight, it’s starting to affect some of his company’s pricing.

“General contractors, the Harkins Builders and Whiting-Turners, are having to expand their subcontractor base and look at areas outside of Baltimore and the District of Columbia to find workers,” he said. “They’re looking as far away as the Carolinas to find electricians, HVAC workers, masons and framers.”

That’s making some general contractors nervous, because they have no track records with some of the critical workers they’re hiring, and their reputations are ultimately on the line.
Moreover, Armiger said, “these workers are not likely to be that familiar with the codes here in Maryland, which get updated on a regular basis.”

It’s a situation that’s starting to change the way some construction firms and subcontractors are thinking about recruitment. “We’ve tried to start reaching out to junior colleges and even students at the high school level, trying to get more of them to see [construction] as a possible career choice,” LaChat said.

Get Used to It

Muscles atrophy when they’re not used, and that’s part of the explanation why construction is feeling a crunch at a time that’s brimming with opportunity.

After the recession hit, housing starts slowed to a trickle.
“We went from building 2 million homes a year to 500,000 homes a year nationwide, and a lot of the labor force left,” Armiger said. “In some cases, it went back home to Mexico or Central America, or it found other lines of work.”

Currently, housing start levels have risen to about 1 million homes a year, “but we’re still 400,000 to 500,000 off where we should be to sustain growth,” he said.

Even so, developers are having a hard time delivering projects on time.

“In the 1990s, when we were building a lot of apartments, we would see 100 or more framers on a job site,” Armiger said. “Now, 20 is considered a lot for the same type of project. The result is probably going to be higher home costs, and construction costs in general will probably rise slightly.”
The skilled labor pinch is probably shaping up to be the new normal, he said, and not a temporary obstacle that’s easily surmounted.

“Hopefully the skilled labor shortage will be remain manageable for the foreseeable future,” Armiger said. “But my sense is it’s going to be a struggle for a long time.”

Thinking Globally Boosts Local Business Prospects

 

Last month, Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) officials completed what they called a “successful” trade mission to Europe, and part of that success was securing a new agreement with Fraunhofer, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization.

Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Fraunhofer will work with the HCEDA to open an office in Howard County. Fraunhofer develops technology for a variety of industries, including communications, health and environment, production and supply of services, mobility and transportation, energy and security.

The overseas connection was all part of the local effort to remain competitive. “We must think globally to successfully attract these new technologies,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

From Fraunhofer’s perspective, “working with Howard County’s rich and diverse technology ecosystem is an ideal way for us to meet our goals,” said Adam Porter, executive director of the Fraunhofer USA Center for Experimental Software Engineering.

‘Best and Brightest’

It’s not only European companies that are looking in from the world beyond, but Asian- and Indian-founded firms that tend to locate in the Baltimore-Washington region, too, said Daraius Irani, vice president of the Division of Innovation and Applied Research at Towson University.

“There are already strong communities of Asian-Americans and Indian-Americans here in the region, and there is a strong education system, both K–12, [and] through college and graduate school,” said Irani.

As this trend grows, it bodes well for continued growth and job creation, he said, since “startups are the engine of economic growth.”

Just how quickly are immigrant-founded businesses starting in the U.S.? In 1996, 13.3% of all startup owners were immigrants; by 2014, that number had increased to 28.5%, according to the 2015 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity National Trends report. And according to a May 17, 2016, article in The Wall Street Journal, immigrants founded 51% of all startups valued a $1 billion or more. About 16.1% of these startups were founded by Indians.

“There are two probable reasons why this is the case,” said Irani. “First, self-selection: Those who emigrate from a country to a new country are probably very well motivated and intelligent. We are getting the best and brightest who immigrate to the United States. Second, in many instances, the foreign community helps their startups with funding.”

New Export Markets

In Anne Arundel County, immigrants who come to start businesses are from all over the globe, said Julie Mussog, CEO of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. “We have a diverse base from many different countries.”

Mussog also shared her thoughts on the major opportunities opening up outside the U.S. in export markets: “Over 80% of global economic growth is projected to occur outside the United States from 2015–20, and fully two-thirds of the world’s middle class population is projected to reside in Asia by 2030,” she said.
“This represents major opportunities for U.S. regions (and their firms) to grow and diversify by opening up new export markets and attracting new investment from rising foreign multinational firms,” said Mussog.
“U.S.-based affiliates of foreign-owned enterprises (FOEs) pay higher wages, provide greater employee benefits and invest more in worker training,” she said, “and while FOEs represent 5% of total U.S. employment, they are responsible for an outsized share of U.S. research and development (19%) and U.S. exports (20%).”

Such information wasn’t lost in March 2014 on the top executives at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments when it opened its new Shimadzu Solution Center in Columbia. The company develops and manufactures analytical and monitoring equipment for scientific and medical laboratories. It also showcases more than 30 scientific instruments and serves well-established companies and startups in various industries, ranging from pharmaceuticals to food safety and toxicology.
“Shimadzu chose Howard County for multiple reasons,” said company spokesperson Kevin McLaughlin. “One key factor is its unique location in the United States, being in close proximity to government agencies, renowned universities and industry leaders.”

McLaughlin listed The Johns Hopkins medical institutions, National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as being among the area-based institutions that influenced the corporation’s decisionmakers.

“This type of proximity fosters collaborations and partnerships, and provides us with opportunities to develop relationships that help us engineer new solutions to evolving market demands,” he said.

‘Great Places’ to Live

Shimadzu’s Howard County location has been a very important factor in its growth, McLaughlin said. “In addition, the county and surrounding areas are great places in which to live,” he said. “This is important from a recruitment aspect as we strive to hire and retain the best employees.”

In addition he said, “The proximity to the Port of Baltimore and its success in recent years is also vital to sustained growth.”
Some Shimadzu employees are lifelong residents of Maryland, whereas others have come from other states. “The ability to live in a wonderful region of the country while working with exceptional colleagues doing important work,” he said, “is certainly a winning formula for growth and success.”

Millennials Want Collaborative Space

 

There are various places for entrepreneurs to found a startup.
In their basements or in their garages quickly (and almost famously) come to mind; perhaps in their living rooms, or if the founder is somewhat imprisoned at home, Starbucks can work.
But when startups get traction and it’s time to make a move, it still may not be time to sign a long-term lease.

What’s the answer? Leasing a collaborative, or co-working, space and riding a new-ish wave that offers access to huddle spaces, kitchens, high-end tech options and even a spot for Sparky to snooze while his human aims for world domination.
However, while collaborative spaces — which can also fall into the category of incubators and accelerators — are trending, there are questions about their viability.

After all, while the branding of a corporation like WeWork or Regus carries a certain panache, what’s their future when landlords like Columbia’s Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) and The Cordish Companies can offer similar options?

The Wave

While that point is bandied about, the commercial real estate community is taking advantage of the shift in the market.
“It’s a huge trend and part of the shrinking square-foot-per-person concept,” said Darrell Nevin, managing director of the LeaseWright Commercial Team with the Columbia office of Keller Williams Commercial. “Technology has allowed this to happen, as well as the changing economic climate. [Those factors] makes it more difficult for many companies to commit to a lease for three-to-five years, because of [sudden] changes in their industries or with the economy.”

This “hoteling” concept exploded right after The Great Recession, Nevin said. “In Columbia alone, 60,000 square feet of new executive suite space was added to the office market from 2010 through 2013. In fact, it was the only growth area of the office market for several years.”

The concept has now taken on more unique experiential characteristics “typical in [COPT’s] CIRQL or WeWork [which recently purchased MeetUp, a service that facilitates scheduling meetings in real life centered around specific interests] spaces,” he said. “It’s a trend that has firmly taken hold with younger, smaller entrepreneurial companies and is a key magnet for attracting millennials in the workforce.”

But is the trend strong enough to keep spaces 100% occupied? That’s one of the first issues that can arise, said Owen Rouse, senior vice president, director, capital markets, with Manekin LLC, in Columbia.

“How do you throttle the demand?” Rouse queried. “Exiting companies might take another floor in the same building, but the landlord has to hope that they have someone coming in right behind the exiting firm or they lose money,” he said. “We’re still learning how to read the demand.”

That type of issue led Rouse to his next point, which concerns the valuation of WeWork’s stock. “There has been an absurd valuation for WeWork of about $20 billion on Wall Street, which is one of the biggest for a startup in history,” he said, after Uber and Airbnb, pointing to a recent article in Forbes.
“My concern, as cool as this concept is, is about [if WeWork] is really a sustainable $20 billion company,” Rouse said. “This is a trend. It might be a trend for a long time, but it’s a trend.”

Smiling Tenants

Kelly Ennis, founding principal of The Verve Partnership, in Baltimore, is hoping that the prediction by Nevin and others of an expanding market comes to pass. Her company created interiors for collaborative places like Spark and Betamore, both of Baltimore (as well as Harkins Builders, in Downtown Columbia), and continues to target the sector.

“Image is important,” said Ennis. “We are finally seeing that spaces we’re designing are really about placemaking [and feature] collaborative areas, as opposed to generic board rooms. Long gone are those days.”

Those collaborative areas may include a couch that creates a casual, welcoming environment, for instance. “People were not meant to sit at a desk all day. We’re agile human beings, and workspaces are now about how people move,” she said. “So, we’re creating areas with coffee bars and huddle spaces that offer people options.”

This movement is about how people interact, then the design — like the Harkins project, which is not technically a collaborative space, but contains collaborative pods.

“This is about curating an office environment that [facilitates] employee retention, and know that Harkins’ recruiting efforts have skyrocketed at a company-record pace,” said Ennis, noting how generations age out. “Trends are directly related to demographics, and millennials wanted this.”

Deep Thoughts

The success of co-working ventures, said Mike Binko, CEO of Startup Maryland, depends on a long-term view, including “motives,​ who’s calling the shots and how they’re engaged in the ecosystem model for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“If the ​co-working facilitator is simply looking for dollars per square foot, that’s a losing proposition,” Binko said.

“Co-working, incubation and acceleration require a keen understanding of venture lifecycles and resources required to inflect these ventures to next levels of growth. Players also need to understand the not-so-subtle differences between startups and small businesses.”

He considers the Cordish Companies’ Spark, in Downtown Baltimore’s Power Plant, a profile of co-working done well.
“Spark was not one of the first entrants into this market, and you can see that Cordish took some time to understand how co-working should fit into their model. One way they did was by ​taking a ‘concierge approach​,’ ​and I think that pays dividends for new companies,” Binko said. “So, these millennial-run companies have not only the work space they want, but a social life before them [at Power Plant Live!]. Many of their tenants don’t need to own a car, as they and their teams live in town and commute by bike or transit​.”

And, by the way, the commercial real estate market needs an ecosystem, just as startups do.

“​Cordish has a diverse portfolio ​of options ​that Spark’s tenants can grow into,” Binko said. “Leveraging the concierge model with a hands-on team of ‘doers’ builds brand affinity with early stage tenants. Serving high growth potential ventures early in their lifecycle represents a compelling sales and pipeline strategy that’s ​tailored to the smaller​ Spark companies​.”
Having been on the national leadership team for the reformation of Startup America as the Startup Champions Network, he and various colleagues had an opportunity to see entrepreneur ecosystems across the country first-hand, and understands the advantages that companies in the Baltimore-Washington area have.

“Anywhere in the state, startups have ​fairly​ access​able avenues​ to resources and support​, particularly via co-working and incubation​.​ Not every state or municipality ​has that,” Binko said.

They also need cash. “You also need successful entrepreneurs and active capital. Maryland is a well-to-do state, and we have the density of support and density of entrepreneurs — activation sideline money is our next opportunity,” he said.​

In Your Town

But Binko said that even the smaller jurisdictions can rewrite their approach to ​economic development based on co-working. “The [Kansas City-based] Kaufmann Foundation publishes report​s​ every year about how ​economic growth at any level ​is most sustainable when entrepreneurs start​ jobs-driving​ small businesses, and ​the ecosystem is in tune with the timetables and needs of​ high growth-potential startups.

But he also noted the difference in ​appetites for investing in economic development, depending on the stakeholder. “If you’re a state, county or municipality, you approach it one way; if you’re in academia, it means something else. If you’re a for-profit entity, the bottom line drives most decisions and timeframes.

“All of the ecosystem’s ventures are small at first, but the needs of small businesses with a legitimate opportunity to achieve high growth should be front and center for the ​entire ecosystem. And any community that wants a strong business ecosystem must celebrate entrepreneurship in all of its forms.”
There is that downside to understand, however, that Rouse warned about.

“It might not be clear to startup founders ​what the motivating factor​s are for different co-working options​. Is it a commercial real estate play ​or ​venture development​?,” Binko​ queried. “Startup founders need to be aware of this. If their business needs to go elsewhere, landlord​s of any type​ may not find it in their best interests to push the startup along if there isn’t another ​tenant-candidate in line to move into the vacated ​space. That’s a definite gray area​.”

However, after having toured Maryland in depth for the past five years, ​Binko ​sees stellar results emerging from collaborative spaces.

“If one isn’t already within a half-hour of your door already,” he said, “one likely ​will be online soon. ​The newest entrants are coming to Annapolis, the Fort Meade area and the BWI Business District, and Regus and CIRQL are ​already expanding in Columbia Gateway.

Sparky’s Welcome

Speaking of CIRQL and Columbia Gateway, COPT Senior Vice President Cathy Ward said CIRQL 1 is 100% leased to seven tenants at 7134 Columbia Gateway Drive, and CIRQL 2 is in for permitting and is 80% committed prior to starti

ng construction at 7142 Columbia Gateway Drive.
In addition, “We’re working on CIRQL 3 at an undisclosed location in Columbia, and are incorporating the concept in other locations throughout the company’s portfolio where we can continue to grow the brand,” Ward said.

She added that CIRQL is “very unique” in the market and has developed into a strong brand for COPT. “It doesn’t compete with Regus (which has a location right across the street from COPT’s Columbia Gateway headquarters); rather, they feed on each other, because companies have different objectives when they lease at one place or another.”

Each space is approximately 3,000 square feet and, as the market dictates, clients can bring their dogs to work, can hop on a COPT-provided bike and use cool tech accents in the shared conference rooms, like a Spark Board. As for concerns about replacing exiting clients, Ward said the demand “for CIRQL-type space is extremely high.”

George Davis, CEO at TEDCO, said that while there are questions about co-working, he feels it’s a good thing. “You want to have the spaces close to capacity, and most of them are pretty full. You always hope there is a need for one more, because that means they’re growing.

“The trend is interesting, because we’re trying to comprehend and understand the various ecosystems and what separates them,” Davis said. “They need space, and other innovations around them and to share resources and thoughts. It’s nice connected tissue.
“But, is this a long term thing?” he asked, hypothetically. “We’ll find out.”

Transportation Officials, Developers Highlight Howard Projects

 

Downtown Columbia redevelopment is steadily advancing, matched by a proliferation of transportation improvement projects across the region, making it easy to mistake the construction safety vest for a new fall fashion trend.

It’s difficult to provide a comprehensive overview of every project that’s in the works, but state government administrators and private construction company professionals emphasized a few of the highlights during a series of information sessions last month.

Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete Rahn met with Howard County officials and residents in early November to discuss the state’s 2018–23 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP).

Later that month in Columbia, a panel discussion at the Maryland Construction Network’s Construction Industry Summit, hosted by Baltimore-based insurance advisory firm RCM&D, focused on development, the current state of the industry and upcoming work in Howard County.

Project Rundown

Statewide, there are 846 airport, highway, transit, port, bicycle and motor vehicle construction projects underway with a combined value of $9 billion.

Funding for local priorities includes $10.7 million in Highway User Revenues for Howard County during the next six years, including an additional $742,000 in grants recently awarded by Gov. Larry Hogan. Highway safety grants administered by the state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) provide $70,000 to the Howard County Police Department and $23,795 to the Maryland Judiciary’s Howard County DUI Court.

According to Rahn, the governor’s $9 billion plan to add four new lanes to I-270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway uses a public-private partnership approach with no impact on any of the counties in the state.
“Smart signals are replacing existing outdated, unresponsive traffic controls,” Rahn said. One of the first adaptive signal control systems in the region is planned for the U.S. 1 intersection with Montgomery Road, which should bring congestion relief to some 36,600 drivers daily.

Although the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has now completed the $36 million widening of northbound U.S. 29 between Seneca Drive and Route 175, “we’re having some problems in the evenings getting onto Route 70 [because] people are getting up there even quicker,” noted Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

Work to widen Route 32 between Route 108 and Linden Church Road will be completed by fall 2018, to be followed by a second phase of widening extending from Route 108 to I-70, with expected completion coming in fall 2021.

A $2.9 million project to resurface Route 32 between Middle Patuxent River and Route 108 is currently underway and should be completed by spring, with construction of the Route 97 and Burntwoods Road intersection scheduled to end by summer.

Other improvements in the pipeline include a new $1.9 million exit ramp from northbound Route 29 to westbound Route 175; $2.3 million in improvements at Route 1 and Kit Kat Road; and Route 103 widening work between Route 29 and Long Gate Parkway.

District 9B Del. Bob Flanagan said he is optimistic that the county and state can make progress on alleviating congestion at the Route 103/Route 29 interchange.

“We’ve got the armory there, and we’re dealing with the federal government, national defense and all the security they’ve had to build in,” he said.

Improvements, Priorities

Rahn announced that the MVA reduced the average wait time in its Columbia service center by three minutes in fiscal 2017 and now offers stand-alone vision screening stations and expedited procedures for citizens who need to renew driver’s licenses or identification cards.

“MTA investment in transit provides $2.2 million in operating grants to support the local transit system in Howard County, and the MTA is providing $65 million in funding to support transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities,” Rahn said.

Howard County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Phil Nichols confirmed the county’s intention to pursue a Highway Safety Plan after the county’s Route. 1 Safety Evaluation is complete.

One of the county’s top priorities, Kittleman said, is the section of I-70 between routes. 29 and 40. “Having it go down to two lanes makes it difficult,” he said, resulting in a heavier traffic volume diverting past schools on Route 99 or Route 144, when I-70 backs up.

“We have talked about an extension of [Route] 108 across [Route] 175 and into Columbia Gateway,” Kittleman said. “If we could figure out a way to make that happen, we could jumpstart even more economic growth [there].”

Construction Summit

At the Maryland Construction Network’s Construction Industry Summit, Howard Hughes Corp. Senior Vice President of Development Greg Fitchitt identified Area 3 in the Merriweather District as the next project in line for Columbia’s redevelopment.

“We’re partnering with Whiting-Turner on the office tower and parking garage, and CBG [Building Company] is the contractor on the residential piece,” he said. “There’s about 22 acres down there that’s really going to bring that vision to life. We should be starting construction early next year.”

As a greenfield site, Area 3 should allow a faster development pace than some of the other development that has already occurred downtown, said Howard Hughes Design & Construction Management Senior Vice President Bill Rowe.
Redevelopment projects and roadwork will also be in the cards next year, he said.

“We just knocked down a building on the Lakefront [and] we started working on the roadwork, Merriweather Drive, in Phase 1 to get [Merriweather One and Two] open,” Rowe said. “We need to get Phase 2 open prior to Phase 1 of Area 3 opening sometime in 2019. We’re working on the section of road that will ultimately tie back in to Little Patuxent Parkway to complete the loop, which will really help [traffic] circulation.”
In Long Reach Village Center, redevelopment plans call for complete demolition and new construction based on a city grid system, incorporating townhouses, market rate apartments, office space above retail, a parking structure and a vertical garden.

“We’re going to do a food incubator with a commercial kitchen, where startup companies are going to share kitchen facilities and be able to use our co-packaging facility,” said Orchard Development CEO Earl Armiger.

Trends, Growth

As for the current status of the construction industry in Howard County, “We certainly feel the pain of the labor market,” said Stephen Rubin, director of project development for Columbia-based Harkins Builders. “The good news is the labor market’s tight, but the bad news is the labor market’s tight.”
One of the major challenges, Rubin said, is figuring out how to price projects and hold on to that price when the construction start date is 12 to 18 months away.

While there’s plenty of work to go around, subcontractors remain cautious about the jobs they bid on.

“We’re not going to look at it if there are a lot of bidders,” said Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. Vice President Irene Knott. “The bottom line is: Can we make a profit on the project, and does that project have repeat business down the road? We have our hands full with maintaining the business that our clients are giving us.”

In Howard County, a lot of that business continues to come from Maple Lawn and several major developments along Route 1 — and will, of course, continue to come from downtown Columbia well into the future.

But even so, county officials are already eyeing what comes next after Columbia’s redevelopment.

“We are positioning [Columbia] Gateway to be the next area of growth for the county,” said Howard County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Larry Twele. “Longer-term plans include looking at the transportation systems and land uses inside Gateway. Maybe someday there might be some residential included there to really activate it like a community, like you see happening in downtown Columbia.”

Tech Upgrades Boost Banks at Street Level, Backroom, Too

 

Customers making their initial foray into Hamilton Bank’s new Ellicott City branch will have some questions upon entering.
They’ll also learn something new before they walk back out the door.
A more than 100-year-old institution, Hamilton Bank is considered old school in some circles, but it’s tightening its embrace on technology as a way to enhance its customer experience.
Its new concierge service model features multiple avenues for customer interaction, including six flexible spaces, like a smart bar to check balances, pay bills and learn about new products; and The Pod, which facilitates cross-functional employee (as opposed to teller) interaction with customers in a more expedient manner because the employees aren’t counting money.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs also can enjoy the new work spaces the branch provides, or they can meet with an employee in a private office. There are other accoutrements, such as free, secure Wi-Fi, a TV that features the news and educational tutorials, and promotes bank products; and even a wet bar, all in a mod atmosphere with natural light.
Ellen Fish, an executive vice president for the bank, likened visiting the Ellicott City branch to stopping by an Apple store. “It’s about human interaction,” she said, “but also about computers and devices that expedite the customer experience.”

Serving Markets
The new accommodations, said Fish, are intended “to accommodate all customers: baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials. We don’t want anyone stuck behind the teller line anymore.”
The Ellicott City branch is Hamilton’s guinea pig, as it’s the first of seven branches that will feature this futuristic approach. They may be slightly different in each market, she said, “depending on the needs of each community after we analyze customer and census data.”
Fish said Hamilton is also focusing on technology for its backend operations.
“We’re looking to process payments more efficiently, and we’re also looking at Zelle and Venmo (which are similar to PayPal) as alternate methods of allowing customers to exchange money, as well as speeding up the approval process for loan applications.”
Howard Bank is also making inroads with this newer way of assisting customers, with a new branch in Remington, in Baltimore City, that also will feature the concierge approach and three cross-functional employees.
“I think the norm in recent years has been to employ five or six staffers in a bank, but we think that’s an inefficient use of employees,” said Wade Barnes, Howard senior vice president, director of marketing and product innovation, who added that the bank is also rolling out nCino, a small business lending platform that expedites response time for loan applications.
Kevin Stehl, vice president of marketing, product and digital for Linthicum-based SECU, knows the drill. SECU operates 22 branches.
“Most of our branches are part of the newer model, in some way, shape or form,” said Stehl. And like Hamilton, SECU’s Ellicott City branch is more of a “personal interaction model, while others may offer certain technologies that are tailored to that particular market.”
What’s happening from SECU’s perspective “is the implementation of a two-part strategy,” he said. “There is a shift in technology for members who do not want to go in to the branches, so we’re moving to new platforms.”
And much of the shift is spurred, of course, by smartphones and tablets; so SECU loan applications are available on mobile devices and its web site became mobile-friendly earlier this year. More updates are planned for 2018.
And, as discussed, the branches are just part of the tech updates. “There is a general shift toward cloud computing for backend needs, so [SECU has] fewer mainframe servers on site,” said Stehl, a former employee of ING Direct, adding that, “Large-scale banks are going completely to the cloud.”
He acknowledged that long-time customers who once kept records with a few strokes of their pens to a passbook might be a befuddled, or even intimidated, by the higher tech approach. “That’s why we need people to work in the branch,” said Stehl, “to teach customers about digital and show them how it can improve their lives.”

Working the Shift
Banks at all levels are at least feeling the pressure to become more tech savvy.
“Banks, whether they’re large national or regional entities or community banks, are experiencing a shift in the way customers and businesses interact with them,” said Joe Thomas, president and CEO for Columbia-based Bay Bank. “They want more channels, not only in the bank, but at the ATM or via their computers and mobile” devices.
That’s led to “a drop-off in customers visiting the branches,” said Thomas. “As a result, banks are wondering what to invest in, and they’re concluding the answer is technology.”
How can they make that happen? “Close branches,” he said. “In our case, we’ve closed or merged branches that we’ve acquired via our (multiple) mergers, then we have upgraded our remaining branches to feature not tellers, but salespeople.”
So instead of printing paper, “our mortgage bankers can use an iPad to show various solutions,” Thomas said. “The reality is [the industry has been] disrupted by a variety of online financial services that are pushing traditional banks to stay ahead of the game.”
And Thomas thinks that’s a good thing. “Competition makes us better, and it’s coming from the front end, meaning the branches,” he said, “as well as the streamlining of processes on the back end.”

Easier Banking
Paris Roselli agreed. The senior vice president for M&T Bank said that online financial technology (or FinTech) companies, like Kabbage, which provides funding directly to small businesses and consumers through an automated lending platform; or Venmo, a mobile payment service owned by PayPal, have been using the “bank plumbing” to get between the traditional banks and customers.
“Two things have happened,” said Roselli. “Many people in the industry got nervous about technology separating banks from customers; and banks have a more stable regulatory environment, which became very demanding after the crash of 2008. So enhanced technology was needed to make life easier with the regulations so tight.”
What’s happened during the past 18 months is a switch to “provide services in a more symbiotic way,” Roselli said, noting that M&T will also begin to feature Zelle in 2018. “What’s interesting is the banks are moving back toward focusing on customer need.”
Rob Morgan, vice president for emerging technologies for the Washington, D.C.-based American Banker’s Association, is “amazed” at what’s happened in the industry since the debut a decade ago of the iPhone, “and how it’s changed everything we do. It’s no surprise that people expect the same at the banks, even in the branches.”
Morgan seconded Thomas’s observations that the banks are investing in technology, “like taking a picture of your check and depositing it via an app that can also monitor your spending and help you reach financial goals — with basically the same conversation one might have had with a banker in a branch.”

Smooth Transactions
As for the bank employee angle, “People think technology is putting people out of jobs, but we see it as more as an enabler,” Morgan said. “It allows you to take mundane duties out of a teller’s hands and make time for discussion of important subjects concerning the customer’s financial future.”
If there are ever employee-less branches, he said they “could coexist in the same market with mostly staffed branches, but the traditional branch experiences aren’t going away. We’re just trying to make it easier to take care of the day-to-day tasks.”
“Our parents went to the bank branch twice a month, then by the ’90s, it was the ATM,” Roselli said. “Then came the Internet, followed by phone banking that has led to interaction on the spot, to the point that your smartphone can tell you when you’re spending too much in a restaurant.”
And so it goes. “Then it’s a Fitbit, and now even appliances in your home. So, not only is the bank woven into one’s daily affairs, it’s part of the Internet of Things. We’re making banking more frictionless. People interact multiple times a day,” he said, “but they don’t really think about it.
“And that,” said Roselli, “is the secret sauce.”

Franchot Proposes Major Reform of Maryland’s Beer LawsBy George Berkheimer, Senior Writer As the man in charge of Maryland’s finances, Comptroller Peter Franchot should know a gold mine when he sees one. And he sees a motherlode in Maryland’s craft beer industry. “We’re talking about an industry that has a total economic impact of $632 million annually, supports more than 6,500 jobs, generates $228 million in wages and $5 million in state and local revenues,” he said, speaking in November at a meeting of the Reform on Tap Task Force he commissioned in April. All that, he said, is “despite statutory and regulatory impediments that have made it harder for this industry to do business in this state.” In fact, he noted, Virginia’s governor and secretary of commerce have exploited that fact in making a not-so-subtle pitch to woo some of the best performing breweries away from Maryland. Now, Franchot is championing new legislation to roll back some of the most detrimental regulations that hamstring craft beer production in the state — and make it impossible for the industry to realize its full potential here. Intentional Grounding Dubbed the Reform on Tap Act of 2018, Franchot’s legislative package picks up where brewery advocates left off in challenging the provisions of House Bill 1283 this spring. “Suffice to say, the language in HB 1283 is cumbersome, and it left a crippling effect on the ability of the startup brewer to get into the business through contract brewing,” said Maryland Assistant Comptroller Len Foxwell. “The Reform on Tap Act conversely will eliminate those arbitrary and hostile restrictions.” Before considering the merits of the Reform on Tap Act or the failings of HB 1283, it’s important to have an understanding of just how Maryland’s regulatory landscape came to be so unfriendly to brewers. Current state beer laws are more or less encumbered by a collection of tweaks and remedial responses enacted during the decades following the repeal of Prohibition. In those days, with small breweries on the wane, many regulations were essentially written to protect the interests of beer wholesalers and distributors in their relationships with brewing behemoths, like Anheuser-Busch and Miller. But is the landscape really that unfriendly? Look no further than Flying Dog Brewery, in Frederick, for that answer. As part of the immediate aftermath of HB 1283, “Flying Dog recently announced that it was putting on permanent hold its plans to construct a $54 million production facility,” Foxwell said. A new, 150,000-square-foot main brewery and an 8,000-square-foot farm brewery would have increased Flying Dog’s production capabilities by a range of 500% to 700%. In a release, Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso said, “We need a playing field that’s fair to brewers, wholesalers and retailers. I look at it for what it is. For us, it is not viable to invest $60 million in a brewery.” Leveling the Field Based on input from eight public task force meetings held across the state, the Reform on Tap Act aims to further develop the state’s craft beer industry as a source of jobs, economic investment, destination tourism and tax revenue. According to Jeff Kelly, director of the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division, Maryland brewers enjoy few of the advantages taken for granted by brewers in surrounding states and the District of Columbia. Maryland law limits annual production to 2,000 barrels for Class 6 pub breweries, 22,500 barrels for Class 7 microbreweries and 15,000 barrels for Class 8 farm breweries. No such restrictions exist in Delaware, Pennsylvania or the District of Columbia, although Virginia also limits farm breweries to 15,000 barrels. In Maryland, tap room sales are limited to 4,000 barrels annually in Class 7 microbreweries, while Class 5 production breweries may sell only 2,000 barrels, with the option of purchasing an additional 1,000 barrels back from their wholesalers at marked-up prices. Again, no such limits exist in surrounding jurisdictions. While franchise laws in other states require only a 30-day notice to terminate an agreement with a distributor, Maryland brewers must wait 180 days. The Reform on Tap Act proposes removing all limits on Maryland beer production, tap room sales and take-home sales. It also guarantees the issuance of Class B or D beer licenses to microbreweries upon request, lets local jurisdictions set guidelines for tap room opening hours, allows smaller brewers to self-distribute, eliminates franchise law requirements and removes restrictions on contract brewing. “With the rise of the small and independent craft brewers in the marketplace, we are now experiencing the reverse, unintended consequence of franchise laws,” Foxwell said. “That is, to handcuff the craft brewer to the distributor no matter how poorly, hypothetically, the distributor performs.” Sharing the Wealth Randy Marriner, owner and founder of Manor Hill Brewing Co., in Ellicott City, served on the comptroller’s task force and is among those who are convinced that the state would be doing itself a huge favor by abandoning its tight regulation of the craft brewing industry. A recent Board of Revenue Estimates report found that for every $20,000 of revenue generated in a Maryland brewery operation, $47,000 in wages, 1.36 jobs and $132,405 in economic output was created in return, he said. “Right now, our state has the reputation of ‘the state with limits,’” Marriner said. “It is the state where Ballast Point [Brewing] did not locate, Flying Dog did not expand [and] where state limits had to be raised for Guinness to even show up.” As for any argument that the Reform on Tap Act poses a threat to distributors and retailers, “literally every brewer on our task force who currently relies on distributors indicated that they would continue to use distributors … because they value the services and the caliber of the service their distributors provide,” Foxwell said. Retailer Joe Pietro, owner of Hair of the Dog Wine & Spirits, in Easton (in Talbot County), said the surge in demand for Maryland products has resulted in a doubling of the space his store dedicates to locally produced spirits, wine and beer. “I have customers routinely coming in to purchase Maryland craft beers, solely because they’ve tasted them at a local brewery or somewhere in the state,” he said. “They stay around and want to talk about other Maryland products that we sell. It’s in our interest that breweries continue to grow, expand and let their entrepreneurial spirit develop. As they grow and profit, we’ll all profit by it.”

 

As the man in charge of Maryland’s finances, Comptroller Peter Franchot should know a gold mine when he sees one.
And he sees a motherlode in Maryland’s craft beer industry.
“We’re talking about an industry that has a total economic impact of $632 million annually, supports more than 6,500 jobs, generates $228 million in wages and $5 million in state and local revenues,” he said, speaking in November at a meeting of the Reform on Tap Task Force he commissioned in April.

All that, he said, is “despite statutory and regulatory impediments that have made it harder for this industry to do business in this state.”

In fact, he noted, Virginia’s governor and secretary of commerce have exploited that fact in making a not-so-subtle pitch to woo some of the best performing breweries away from Maryland.

Now, Franchot is championing new legislation to roll back some of the most detrimental regulations that hamstring craft beer production in the state — and make it impossible for the industry to realize its full potential here.

 

Intentional Grounding

Dubbed the Reform on Tap Act of 2018, Franchot’s legislative package picks up where brewery advocates left off in challenging the provisions of House Bill 1283 this spring.
“Suffice to say, the language in HB 1283 is cumbersome, and it left a crippling effect on the ability of the startup brewer to get into the business through contract brewing,” said Maryland Assistant Comptroller Len Foxwell. “The Reform on Tap Act conversely will eliminate those arbitrary and hostile restrictions.”

Before considering the merits of the Reform on Tap Act or the failings of HB 1283, it’s important to have an understanding of just how Maryland’s regulatory landscape came to be so unfriendly to brewers.

Current state beer laws are more or less encumbered by a collection of tweaks and remedial responses enacted during the decades following the repeal of Prohibition. In those days, with small breweries on the wane, many regulations were essentially written to protect the interests of beer wholesalers and distributors in their relationships with brewing behemoths, like Anheuser-Busch and Miller.

But is the landscape really that unfriendly?

Look no further than Flying Dog Brewery, in Frederick, for that answer. As part of the immediate aftermath of HB 1283, “Flying Dog recently announced that it was putting on permanent hold its plans to construct a $54 million production facility,” Foxwell said.

A new, 150,000-square-foot main brewery and an 8,000-square-foot farm brewery would have increased Flying Dog’s production capabilities by a range of 500% to 700%.
In a release, Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso said, “We need a playing field that’s fair to brewers, wholesalers and retailers. I look at it for what it is. For us, it is not viable to invest $60 million in a brewery.”

Leveling the Field

Based on input from eight public task force meetings held across the state, the Reform on Tap Act aims to further develop the state’s craft beer industry as a source of jobs, economic investment, destination tourism and tax revenue.
According to Jeff Kelly, director of the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division, Maryland brewers enjoy few of the advantages taken for granted by brewers in surrounding states and the District of Columbia.

Maryland law limits annual production to 2,000 barrels for Class 6 pub breweries, 22,500 barrels for Class 7 microbreweries and 15,000 barrels for Class 8 farm breweries. No such restrictions exist in Delaware, Pennsylvania or the District of Columbia, although Virginia also limits farm breweries to 15,000 barrels.

In Maryland, tap room sales are limited to 4,000 barrels annually in Class 7 microbreweries, while Class 5 production breweries may sell only 2,000 barrels, with the option of purchasing an additional 1,000 barrels back from their wholesalers at marked-up prices. Again, no such limits exist in surrounding jurisdictions.

While franchise laws in other states require only a 30-day notice to terminate an agreement with a distributor, Maryland brewers must wait 180 days.

The Reform on Tap Act proposes removing all limits on Maryland beer production, tap room sales and take-home sales. It also guarantees the issuance of Class B or D beer licenses to microbreweries upon request, lets local jurisdictions set guidelines for tap room opening hours, allows smaller brewers to self-distribute, eliminates franchise law requirements and removes restrictions on contract brewing.

“With the rise of the small and independent craft brewers in the marketplace, we are now experiencing the reverse, unintended consequence of franchise laws,” Foxwell said. “That is, to handcuff the craft brewer to the distributor no matter how poorly, hypothetically, the distributor performs.”

Sharing the Wealth

Randy Marriner, owner and founder of Manor Hill Brewing Co., in Ellicott City, served on the comptroller’s task force and is among those who are convinced that the state would be doing itself a huge favor by abandoning its tight regulation of the craft brewing industry.

A recent Board of Revenue Estimates report found that for every $20,000 of revenue generated in a Maryland brewery operation, $47,000 in wages, 1.36 jobs and $132,405 in economic output was created in return, he said.

“Right now, our state has the reputation of ‘the state with limits,’” Marriner said. “It is the state where Ballast Point [Brewing] did not locate, Flying Dog did not expand [and] where state limits had to be raised for Guinness to even show up.”

As for any argument that the Reform on Tap Act poses a threat to distributors and retailers, “literally every brewer on our task force who currently relies on distributors indicated that they would continue to use distributors … because they value the services and the caliber of the service their distributors provide,” Foxwell said.

Retailer Joe Pietro, owner of Hair of the Dog Wine & Spirits, in Easton (in Talbot County), said the surge in demand for Maryland products has resulted in a doubling of the space his store dedicates to locally produced spirits, wine and beer.
“I have customers routinely coming in to purchase Maryland craft beers, solely because they’ve tasted them at a local brewery or somewhere in the state,” he said. “They stay around and want to talk about other Maryland products that we sell. It’s in our interest that breweries continue to grow, expand and let their entrepreneurial spirit develop. As they grow and profit, we’ll all profit by it.”

Q&A with DLLR Commissioner of Financial Regulation Tony Salazar

 

This summer, banking industry veteran Antonio (Tony) Salazar was appointed by the Hogan administration to the position of commissioner of financial regulation at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Salazar, who most recently spent several years practicing law locally, brings more than 30 years’ experience to his new-ish position. During his career, he has focused not only on banking law, but also commercial financing, transactions, loan restructurings and workouts, real estate, and general business law.

From 2009 until this summer, Salazar led the banking and financial institutions practice at the Columbia law firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny (DARS). Prior to joining the firm, he served for 17 years as deputy general counsel of Provident Bank, a Baltimore-based regional mid-Atlantic bank.
He started his banking career as an enforcement attorney with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, D.C., the city where he also earned degrees from The George Washington University Law School and Georgetown University. Salazar is admitted to the Maryland, Connecticut and District of Columbia bars; he is also a member of the Hispanic Bar Association.

Before joining the Department of Labor, Salazar served as the president of the Soccer Association of Columbia; was a member of the board of directors of MakingChange of Howard County, which offers financial wellness programs to low-income families and individuals; and had been appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to the University of Maryland Medical System board of directors.

He is a graduate of Leadership Howard County’s Class of 1999; has served as president of the Jim Rouse Entrepreneurial Fund; and president of Centro de la Comunidad, an organization that provides information and referral services regarding legal issues including citizenship, crises and eviction cases, domestic violence, assault and battery cases.

He lives in Ellicott City with his wife, Patty. They have three grown children.

What in your background do you feel was most beneficial in leading you to your present position?

It was a combination of having worked for the Comptroller of the Currency and the many years I spent at Provident Bank. Provident was a state-chartered, community bank, and those types of institutions make up the bulk of the banks that my office oversees.

What is the function of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation? What sort of institutions do you regulate?

We regulate depository institutions like banks, mortgage companies and credit unions, as well as non-depository institutions like mortgage lenders, brokers, money transmitters and check cashing institutions.
Our office has dual goals. We strive for a balanced regulatory system that protects Maryland’s consumers and supports its economy. To that end, our office works to make sure that the system includes safe, sound financial institutions that provide products consumers need that are compliant with Maryland law. That’s the other side of the dual mandate.

What’s happening in those areas these days?

Gov. Hogan has made economic development and job growth priorities in the state. Under the Hogan administration, Maryland has experienced low unemployment and high job growth; since January 2015, Maryland has gained more than 125,500 jobs, and its unemployment rate is at a nine-year low. DLLR Secretary Schulz and I work hard to fulfill the governor’s mission, and ensure Maryland’s economy remains competitive.

What, specifically, is your function as the commissioner?
My primary duties are to: oversee the day-to-day operations of the office; set strategic direction for the office; work with Secretary Schulz and the governor’s office on budgeting, administrative issues and policy issues; interface with other state and federal regulators for educational purposes and to coordinate examinations, investigations and other supervisory activities; coordinate outreach efforts with consumers, consumer groups, regulated entities and their representatives, municipalities and the legislature; and direct any enforcement action that our office may undertake.

What are some of the bigger issues facing your office?
We’re looking to the future, notably [to contemplate] the role of financial technology companies and money transmitters, and how these online services fit into the overall regulatory scheme.
Another focus is cooperating with other state regulators as we transition to an exciting new operating system, which will bring increased transparency and information to Maryland’s consumers, and will make doing business with the office of financial regulation easier for Maryland businesses.

One of your office’s functions is licensing new state financial institutions. Are there many new institutions in the pipeline these days?

We are now overseeing 53 chartered banks in Maryland. There is hope that the Federal Reserve will relax some of its requirements applicable to community banks consistent with remarks of Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell, which could result in the founding of some new banks.

 

What do you think will result from the Equifax breach? What have we learned from it?

It’s hard to say all that’s been learned, due to the ongoing investigations. What we know is that Equifax failed to protect consumers’ records because its systems for monitoring and implementing patches to its computer system were flawed. So, the easy takeaway is that institutions need to be vigilant and ensure that they closely monitor [information technology] activities like data security, patches, etc.

 

As a state-based commission, how much do you interact with similar commissions in other states? How much do you work with the federal government?

We work closely with all of the federal regulatory agencies, notably the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and coordinate examinations with them. On the non-depository side, we coordinate with the Consumer Financial Protection Board, a federal consumer protection agency, in order to identify entities that may be violating Maryland laws or otherwise causing harm to consumers and to identify opportunities to promote consumer financial education in areas such as homeownership and foreclosure avoidance.
Also, Maryland is part of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, which includes all states and the District of Columbia. That type of communication is a key part of what we do.

Mike Davis, managing partner at DARS, describes you as a “banker’s banker.” After working on the private side of banking earlier in your career, do you envision an eventual return to the private sector?

My No. 1 priority is this office and making sure that we have a well-regulated financial system that helps Gov. Hogan continue to build a strong Maryland economy and one that serves Maryland taxpayers efficiently and with outstanding customer service.

What makes you most optimistic about the future of banking in Maryland?

In Maryland, we have a strong, diversified state economy and a chief executive who is committed to growing the private sector and helping Marylanders secure well-paying jobs. Banks make money by making loans and, if businesses are healthy, lending should follow.

Since you speak fluent Spanish, how has the influx of Spanish-speaking customers affected the state’s banking industry?
According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, revenue for Hispanic-owned firms is expected to reach $661 billion nationally, a 28% increase since 2012. In fact, the number of Hispanic-owned firms has outpaced all U.S. firms for the last decade.

In Maryland alone, there are approximately 54,000 Hispanic businesses. This growth represents a huge opportunity for banks and financial institutions to provide services and products to Hispanic business owners. Our agency is reaching out to all sectors of Maryland’s economy to educate and inform business owners and consumers about the benefits of doing business with a Maryland bank or financial institution.

EFMA’s Tech Mania Gets STEM-Centric Students Hands-On Experiences

More than 130 freshman students gathered at Anne Arundel Community College’s (AACC) Regional Higher Education Center at Arundel Mills for the Fort Meade Alliance’s (FMA) Tech Mania on Oct. 27.

The morning was spent with students rotating in and out of classrooms, each of which had an interactive STEM-related lesson from participating FMA member companies: AACC, Freedom Consulting Group, Leidos, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC).

The students in attendance were from Carroll County’s Century High School, Howard County’s Marriott’s Ridge High School and Anne Arundel County’s Glen Burnie, North County and South River high schools.

“Participation in these types of events opens students to opportunities that they don’t know exist in terms of their future careers,” said Lance Bowen, dean for the School of Science and Technology at AACC. “It is also an important time for them to start thinking and planning for their education beyond high school.”

The offerings of each organization were as follows.

• AACC provided students with a hands-on experience about eyes. Students dissected a sheep eyeball in search of the cornea. In addition, students learned about vision and had their own vision challenged through various illusions.

• In the Lockheed Martin classroom, students learned about RTL-SDR (software defined radio) and were challenged to detect and identify hidden black box emitters. Students put their new knowledge to test with Spectrum Whack-a-Mole, which required them to match pulses on different channels sent out by an emitter.

• NGC gave students the ability to see into the future, with a little help from virtual reality goggles. Students experienced through the goggles how data will be analyzed in the future, and had the opportunity to control a drone.

• Leidos challenged students to a competitive game of Capture the Flag, using CyberNEXS, a real-world platform designed to assess an organization’s cybersecurity readiness.

• Freedom Consulting Group gave students an introduction to programming using Minecraft. Students received recipe cards that showed code snippets (using the Python language) of actions that can be coded in Minecraft.

“This year, Tech Mania was more interactive than ever,” said Lockheed Martin’s Marie Weber, who serves as the FMA Student Program chair. “This translated to one of our most energetic and enthusiastic groups of Tech Mania students. It comes down to individuals working together to make connections, volunteer and excite the next generation by creating experiences that help them envision themselves being part of fascinating STEM careers in our area.”

Tech Mania is held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

New HCC Program Trains Bilingual Students for Finance Careers

In his native country of Iran, Ali Fazeli served as the general manager of a major shipping and freight forwarding company, but he wanted a better future for his family.

A visit to his sister’s home in Maryland convinced him that America would offer more opportunities — even if it meant that he and his wife, Soraya, an architect, would have to leave their professional careers.

The Fazeli family moved to Ellicott City and found jobs: Soraya at Target, Ali as a pharmacy technician. With his daughter in pre-school, Fazeli felt it was also time to further his education. He took a major step to reigniting his former career by enrolling this fall in Howard Community College’s (HCC) inaugural Banking and Finance Training for Bilingual Speakers program.

“I already held an MBA, so I have experience in accounting and financial management,” said Fazeli, who also speaks Arabic, Farsi and English. “This class is an opportunity for me to start again in fields I know and learn American banking culture. It’s important that we learn how to communicate with American clients, as well as international clients.”

The noncredit program has major benefits for students, as well as the financial institutions that approached HCC about starting a program to train bilingual employees.

In the banking sector, it is important for employers to hire bilingual and multi-lingual employees who can communicate and relate to their diverse customer base. Census data shows that 23% of Howard County residents speak a language other than English at home.

Banking employees should also possess the financial knowledge and the soft skills necessary for high-level customer service. A recent PwC report, Retail Banking 2020, indicated one of the top three priorities for banks in the coming years was “enhancing customer service” and developing models centered around customers, rather than products.

Taking these trends into consideration, five banks that serve the Baltimore-Washington region — M&T Bank, PNC Bank, Sandy Spring Bank, BB&T and Revere Bank — agreed that HCC was the ideal partner to help train their future workforce. A collaboration emerged through the college’s English Language Center, which enrolls more than 2,000 students from 80 countries.

An advisory board, made up of representatives from the banks and HCC developed the curriculum that teaches career and banking skills. The banks also actively participate in the course, sending representatives as guest speakers, engaging in mock interviews with students and providing networking opportunities.

A tuition-free class proved an excellent incentive. In the inaugural class, students represented such countries of origin as India, Georgia, Russia, South Korea, Iran, China, Lebanon and Peru. All of the applicants were required to have “high intermediate” English proficiency, which is the grammar needed to hold conversations in English; most have taken (and are continuing to take) courses at the English Language Center.
The 10-week Banking and Finance Training for Bilingual Speakers program, which began on Sept. 16, has met every Saturday for five hours. In class, students focus on cultural studies, grammar, vocabulary, business idioms, professional writing and interview skills. Later sessions include guest presenters, mock interviews and networking with banking professionals.

The in-class sessions concluded Nov. 18. In early December, students were slated to experience a behind-the-scenes tour of a bank, followed by a recognition ceremony and networking event in January.

Anne Arundel Breaks Ground on Crofton High School

Anne Arundel County Public Schools recently broke ground on the new Crofton Area High School. The project is a $124.5 million, 275,768-square-foot high school that will serve approximately 1,700 students when completed. Enrollment in its first year is projected to be 10% lower than the average high school enrollment in the county.

The last incrementally new high school constructed in the county was Broadneck High School, which was completed in 1982. Crofton High School is slated to open in fall 2020.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh first proposed funding for a master plan, design and construction for the school in his fiscal 2016 budget; the County Council eventually approved it in his fiscal 2017 budget. Other projects in the six-year capital plan and funded in fiscal 2018 include the following.
New School/Replacement
• Arnold Elementary (construction), $41 million
• Jessup Elementary (construction), $45.2 million
Modernization/Revitalization
• Manor View Elementary (construction), $34.4 million
• High Point Elementary (construction), $40.5 million
• George Cromwell Elementary (construction), $32.7 million
• Edgewater Elementary (design), $40.2 million
• Tyler Heights Elementary (design), $38.1 million
• Richard Henry Lee (design), $34.6 million
These capital projects were made possible through the JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project financing program. Enacted in 2015, the capital 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.

Dems Hope This Year’s Ripples Become 2018 Wave

From the distant ripples of Virginia and New Jersey, and the ripples from Annapolis and Frederick, Democrats in Maryland are conjuring a political wave next year that will sweep Republican Gov. Larry Hogan from the State House and even Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman from office.
There aren’t many elections nationally in odd-numbered years, but Virginia and New Jersey do choose their governors and legislatures. In Maryland, some municipalities elect their mayors in partisan elections, as do the old cities of Annapolis and Frederick.

Democrats were particularly cheered by the victory in Virginia of Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam over Ed Gillespie, a former chair of the national GOP. The party also picked up at least 15 seats in the House of Delegates, and thus moved closer to overcoming the Republican control of the House.
These victories at the grassroots level were especially encouraging for Democrats, because they showed the depth of the anti-Trump effect.

In Annapolis, Democrat Gavin Buckley, a restaurateur with a thick Australian accent, trounced the young Republican Mayor Mike Pantelides (but more on that race in the Anne Arundel column that follows); in Frederick, three-term Republican incumbent Mayor Randy McClement lost to Democrat Michael O’Connor.

All the Democratic victories were by larger margins than were expected, except the New Jersey race, where Democrat Phil Murphy beat Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. She was trying to succeed who pollsters have found to be the most unpopular governor in America, Chris Christie.

Tying Hogan to Trump

The Maryland Democratic Party has consistently tried to tie Hogan to Trump without a lot of success to show for it, as the governor continues to be popular in polling. But Democratic partisans do not need to have a lot of success to reclaim the State House.

Hogan won by only 65,500 votes, just 51%, amidst the lowest Democratic voter turnout in years. Kittleman won by 2,600 votes, also 51%.

Will opposition to Trump and the Republican Congress generate the kind of enthusiasm that will drive Democrats to the polls? Trump is on the minds of voters, local candidates report. It would not take a major surge of Democrats to unseat Hogan or Kittleman, neither of whom has shown any fondness or support for Trump, which may be leading some Republicans to withhold their support.

Ball Challenges Kittleman

Democrat Calvin Ball, an 11-year veteran of the Howard County Council, hopes to cash in on some of that anti-Trump effect. Last month, he announced his long-expected bid for county executive.

Joined by most of the elected Democrats in the county and a crowd of more than 200 supporters in Columbia’s Kahler Hall, Ball promised an election that focused on “unity, hope, civility and our very best selves.”

“I’ve been surprised and dismayed by the silence of some of our leaders here in Howard County as President Trump and his administration have sought to demean and divide us,” Ball said, taking a veiled swipe at Kittleman — who did not support Trump’s election, but has been mostly silent about the Republican president.

But Ball also said, “Like most citizens of Howard County, I believe our current county executive is a good and decent man.”
“There will not be a barrage of personal attacks in this campaign. We’ve all had enough of that negativity,” he said.
Ball has reached his limit of three terms on the council. He has tangled with Kittleman on numerous issues, such as Ball’s attempts to promote Howard County as a sanctuary for immigrants and to deny tax breaks for Columbia’s downtown redevelopment.

Howard Can Be Better

“Things are good here in Howard County but I believe they can be even better,” Ball said. He said the county needed to “reach higher,” like the outstretched arms of the figures in Columbia’s People Tree sculpture.

He noted that Howard County “ranks as one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the nation, with one of the finest school systems and some of the highest property values,” but needed to spend more on schools and curb overdevelopment.

Swearing off negativity may be making a virtue of necessity. Kittleman has generally been seen as a successful executive, particularly his handling of the terrible July 2016 flooding on Main Street in historic Ellicott City that shut down the old town down for weeks. Kittleman’s three budgets have also passed the Democrat-controlled County Council unanimously, including Ball’s vote. These budgets have funded teacher pay hikes, but not everything the school board has asked for.

Former Howard County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McPherson noted that defeating an incumbent county executive is hard work, since the incumbent can do a lot of things a challenger can’t.

Kittleman was endorsed last month by the Howard County Fire Fighters Association, the first time the union has endorsed a Republican for county executive; green-shirted leaders of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, were a visible presence at Ball’s announcement.

Kittleman also has the fundraising advantage that most executives have with the business community. This year’s fundraising totals for state and local campaigns will not be available until mid-January. Last January, Kittleman had $725,000 in his campaign account, eight times more than Ball’s $89,000.

Hester Challenging Bates

With a similar buzz about the Virginia election in the room, Democrat Katie Fry Hester, America’s director of The Partnering Initiative, announced Nov. 14 that she is running for the state Senate in District 9, currently represented by Republican Gail Bates.

“I am running as a centrist and citizen legislator,” Hester said on her website. “I have worked with civil society organizations, governments, companies and international agencies around the world to implement strategies that are good for business, good for the environment and good for communities.

“I know that differences of opinion can get in the way of collaboration,” she said, “yet underneath these differences are shared common values.”

Hester promises to fight for quality health care for all who need it, especially where there are gaps in federal assistance. She stresses bringing education funding for all children, and ensuring colleges and universities are affordable. She also wants incentives to grow jobs and development that is “socially and environmentally responsible.”

Hester also wants ”to eliminate the drawing of district lines that result in an unfair advantage for any political party.” This is precisely what Democratic leaders at the State House did in 2011 to make it difficult for any Democrat to defeat Bates, who was seeking her second term in the Senate after three terms in the House. District 9 is mostly packed with Republicans and Democrats who vote Republican in General Elections, making it a fairly safe seat for any Republican. This allows the county’s other two legislative districts, 12 and 13, to be safely Democratic.

District 9 now includes western Howard County, Ellicott City and a small part of Carroll County. It has been represented by Republican senators for 30 years, most recently by Bates, Allan Kittleman and his father Bob, and Chris McCabe.

Sen. Guy Guzzone, who has become the most visible Democratic leader in Howard County, said the race will be difficult, but doable, requiring at least $100,000.

Follow Voting Patterns

For Democrats running, they will tout party registration to make the race look winnable, since Republicans have only a slight edge. But party registration is deceptive; how people actually vote in general elections for governor and president is what counts.

Election results show District 9 is solidly Republican. In 2014, Republicans had a 2,100 voter edge in registration there, but Larry Hogan beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown by more than 16,000 votes in District 9.

“Ah!” you say, but Brown was a weak candidate with a bad campaign.

So how about 2016, Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump? Republicans had only 265 more registered voters, but Trump beat Clinton in District 9 by almost 3,500 votes. “Ah!” but Clinton was a weak candidate too, you say. Yet, she carried Howard County by 55,000 votes.

Hester seems a smart, articulate candidate, but it will take a miracle for her to defeat any Republican, no less a Republican incumbent, who has run and won in the district in four elections.

District 9B, the single-member delegate district in the Ellicott City area that is one-third of District 9, is a different story. Democrats have a slight edge in registration, but in 2014, Hogan beat Brown 58%-42%, and in 2016, Clinton beat Trump 60-40%.

 

Republican Del. Flanagan now represents 9B. Communications executive Dan Medinger and former county councilmember Courtney Watson are competing in the Democratic primary to challenge Flanagan, known for his prodigious door-knocking.

The Rule of Law

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was the long-time U.S. attorney for Maryland before he got the hot seat in the Justice Department, spoke to the BWI Business Partnership at breakfast last month. While there were news stories about the event, Rosenstein broke no news, as might be expected from someone trying to keep the Department of Justice on track as President Trump criticizes the department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the special prosecutor Rosenstein oversees.

The most striking thing about Rosenstein’s forceful but bland speech was his emphasis on maintaining the rule of law and the impartial administration of justice. In the current atmosphere, it was reassuring that someone as level-headed, experienced and fair is the chief operating officer of the federal Justice Department.

Schuh Gets a Democratic Challenger

Steuart Pittman, Jr., believes “our current county executive is a little bit too focused on growing our county population at an accelerated rate” and not paying enough attention to what he describes as Anne Arundel County’s $1 billion in infrastructure needs.

That’s why Pittman, a Democrat who runs his family’s generations-old Dodon Farm, in Davidsonville, has decided to challenge Republican Steve Schuh’s re-election.

Schuh has amassed more than $1 million for the campaign and will likely spend $1.5 million to get reelected, Pittman said. “I think that’s why more people are not getting into this race.”
Pittman says he’s running because, “It needs to get done.” A news story on the Maryland Matters website reported he was running several weeks before he planned to announce, so he is scrambling to assemble a campaign team and fundraising apparatus. He filed his campaign committee in August, with former delegate Virginia Clagett as his treasurer.

“I believe it’s very winnable,” Pittman said, and thinks it can be done with $500,000. “It’s really a viable campaign,” adding, “I’ve been overwhelmed with the support” his announcement has generated so far.

Parallel With Owens

Pittman sees a strong parallel with the race 20 years ago when Democrat Janet Owens, who grew up in a South County farm family, took on incumbent Republican John Gary, who Pittman said was too cozy with developers and had upset a number of people. “So has Steve Schuh,” Pittman said.

The Schuh administration is “insulated and not really in touch,” Pittman believes. “I think I can run [the county] better and shift the focus” from growth to taking care of the needs of existing communities.

Pittman, 56, is not just an old farm boy. He attended the University of Chicago and spent nine years as a community organizer, where he worked in one of the same projects in Chicago as a community organizer named Barack Obama. The two have never met, but “he knows of me,” Pittman said, since he was mentioned in a book about Obama.

Pittman also worked in Des Moines, Iowa, and was an organizer for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now that worked on issues for low- and moderate-income families like neighborhood safety, health care, affordable housing and other social issues.

“You don’t think of ACORN organizers as farmers,” Pittman said.

Overdevelopment

Steve Schuh “has learned to say ‘Keep South County rural,’” but “I question the real commitment,” Pittman said.

In a brief interview, Schuh said, “I don’t think the facts are square with that perspective,” saying he has supported “a prudent and balanced approach to development” and strongly favors keeping half the county rural, as it is now.

Schuh was a bit puzzled by Pittman’s complaints, noting that he and Pittman “had worked on things together” to preserve South County’s rural character.

Pittman is concerned that the next executive will be formulating the new General Development Plan for the county. Schuh “wants to increase the density of a lot of these communities, and they don’t want it.”

What many communities want is some relief from traffic and improvements to roads and other infrastructure. “The money is there without raising taxes,” Pittman said.

Late last month, Pittman hired Scott Travers as his campaign manager. Travers managed the successful campaign of Gavin Buckley for mayor of Annapolis.

Jubilation Over Buckley

Progressive Democratic forces were jubilant the night of Nov. 7, when restaurateur Gavin Buckley didn’t just beat Republican Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides; he thumped him, getting 61% of the vote. Buckley, an Australian native with a thick Aussie accent, is an unusual combination of innovative entrepreneur and progressive politician who is credited with helping revive West Street with four restaurants there, along with community festivals.

“He was the right candidate with the right message at the right time,” said Sarah Elfreth, who managed the coordinated campaign for the Democrats. “We almost had a sweep,” gaining all but one of the eight alderman seats on the Annapolis City Council on which the mayor also serves.

“The biggest thing was we knocked on 14,000 doors” with 45 to 50 volunteers every weekend, Elfreth said. They were also able to boost Democratic turnout from four years ago when Republican Mike Pantelides “really squeaked by,” defeating incumbent Democrat Josh Cohen by 59 votes. Elfreth said more than 700 regular Democratic voters didn’t show up for that election.

But she said the most important factor was the exuberant Buckley himself, a “non-traditional candidate. … He was a name brand, and he wasn’t afraid to run as a progressive.” Elfreth is herself a candidate, running for state Senate in Annapolis-based District 30, where Democrat John Astle has held the seat for 23 years. Astle ran for Annapolis mayor, but Buckley easily beat him in the Democratic primary, an early sign of the progressive strength over one of the last moderate to conservative Democrats in the Senate.

Astle has not officially announced his plans, but the mayor’s race was seen as a last hurrah for the retired Marine helicopter pilot. Elfreth was president of the District 30 Democratic club and had worked in campaigns to elect Astle; she said “he was the first person to suggest that I run” last year.

The district includes Annapolis, Edgewater, Broadneck and its environs, and Elfreth has spent her time campaigning in areas outside of the city, personally knocking on 2,000 doors of Democratic and independent voters in what she describes as “a listening tour. This is still the early stages of the campaign.”
A lot of voters are concerned about having the best quality schools and protecting the Chesapeake Bay, but they also ask her, “What can you do to stop Trump?

“I say there is a lot we can do to mitigate Trump” on the state level, Elfreth said. Former Republican Delegate Ron George, who owns a Main Street jewelry business in Annapolis, has been running for the seat for over a year.

Casino Tax Break

The Live! Casino tax break we wrote about last month — as much as $36 million over 12 years to help build an expanded auditorium that county schools could use for free — passed the Anne Arundel County Council last month on a 5-2 vote. Sponsored by the Schuh administration and Democratic Councilmember Pete Smith, it had bipartisan support and opposition, with opposing votes from Democrat Chris Trumbauer and Republican Jerry Walker.

Haire for Council

Jessica Haire, wife of Maryland Republican Party Chair Dirk Haire, late last month announced her run for County Council District 7, the large South County area currently represented by Walker. She was endorsed by Schuh, who said “we’d like to have a woman’s perspective on our County Council.”
With the updating of the General Development Plan, followed by comprehensive rezoning, “we need somebody special on the council,” Schuh said, citing Jessica Haire’s background as a lawyer with a civil engineering degree.

“We have a delicate balance on our county council,” said Schuh, who hopes to maintain the Republican majority there. “A person can do immense harm or immense damage.”
“I truly believe in limited government,” said Haire. She said she had three main goals: reducing property taxes by 3%, a goal Schuh shares; more accountability for education funding by the newly-elected school board; and better police protection in District 7, with quicker response times in the county’s largest and most rural land area.

“We’re going to raise more money, and we’re going to send a better message,” Haire said.
Republican Jonathan Boniface and Democrat James Kitchin have already filed for the Council District 7 seat.

Redistricting Approved For Howard Elementary, Middle Schools

The Howard County Board of Education voted in November to revise Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) elementary and middle school attendance areas for the 2018–19 school year. Board members said the adjustments were necessary to populate the new Elementary School No. 42, scheduled to open in Hanover next fall, and to realign middle school feeder patterns.
High school redistricting will not take place for the 2018–19 school year, but will be delayed until prior to the expected 2022 opening of new High School No. 13.
A few days before the board’s decision, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced an agreement to buy a 12-acre site in Turf Valley that will enable HCPSS to plan for a future elementary school that will help relieve severe overcrowding at the elementary school level.
“The redistricting process underscored the urgency to accelerate this purchase, and I am glad that we have been able to take this step now,” Kittleman said.
Pending County Council approval, the county will acquire the site for $5.75 million. Mangione Family Enterprises of Turf Valley has agreed to sell the property below its appraised value to help address the need for a school in that area.
“Overcrowding didn’t happen overnight, and it will take time to truly find a balance while maintaining our communities and planning for future growth,” HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano said. “Combined with the acceleration of a new high school in the east, the replacement and expansion of Talbott Spring Elementary, in Columbia, and the use of innovative programmatic offerings, the Turf Valley school site will ensure that we have the necessary capacity across the county to support long-term student enrollment and growth.”
A new school locator and final attendance area maps for the 2018–19 school year are available on the school system’s website.

College JumpStart
HCPSS also announced a new program that enables high school students to earn up to 60 college credits before graduation. Offered in partnership with Howard Community College (HCC), JumpStart is designed to give students a head start toward earning a college degree or preparing for a career at a greatly reduced cost.
Through JumpStart, eligible students will be able to earn enough college credits to complete up to one or two years of college before graduating high school.
The program also seeks to mitigate some school overcrowding and underutilization issues.
Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, JumpStart programs will be introduced at the underutilized Oakland Mills and River Hill high schools. Up to 500 students currently attending the overcrowded Centennial, Howard and Long Reach schools will also be able to take advantage of the programs, provided they change enrollment to Oakland Mills or River Hill.
In addition to the JumpStart initiative, all HCPSS high school students can earn college credits by taking dual-credit courses at their high school or enrolling in college courses on the HCC campus.
JumpStart information sessions will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Long Reach and Oakland Mills high schools, and on Thursday, Dec. 7, at Bonnie Branch and Elkridge Landing middle schools. Students may also obtain information from their high school counselor.

APFO Vote Invalid
An oversight by the Howard County Council resulted in the expiration of three complicated bills before the council voted on them on Nov. 6. Included in this legislation were Council Bill 60, which regulates mulching as an agricultural practice; Council Bill 61, which updates the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO); and Council Bill 62, which reduces allocations in the Growth and Revitalization categories for the county’s General Plan and increases allocations in the Established Communities category starting in 2020.
On Nov. 22, Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) and Councilmembers Calvin Ball (D-Dist. 2) and Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3) announced they would re-introduce legislation in January to update the APFO. Council Bills 1- and 2-2018 were drafted from the amended versions of Council Bills 61- and 62-2017.
Council bills 1- and 2-2018 will address the recommendations from the APFO Task Force to manage the pace of growth in the county, including tests for schools, housing allocations and roads.
“We heard from the community, made the bill much stronger than what was previously filed by the Administration, and are now taking action to complete this process in a timely manner,” said Ball.
The proposed legislation will be introduced at the council’s legislative session on Jan. 2, and testimony will be accepted at the legislative public hearing on Jan. 16.

Executive Race
County Councilman Calvin Ball announced his candidacy for the office of county executive in the 2018 elections.
“I’m excited over the next coming months to put forward a robust agenda that will reflect our shared values and ideals,” Ball told supporters at his announcement rally at Columbia’s Kahler Hall on Nov. 9. He has served as District 2 councilman since April 2006.
Later in the month, real estate professional Harry Dunbar of Columbia also joined the race for county executive, and will face Ball as a Democrat in the June 26, 2018, primary election.
Dunbar ran unsuccessfully for the same office in the 2006 primary, where he faced Ken Ulman.
Other newcomers to the primary ballot include Sunmy Brown, who filed as a Republican in the District 1 County Council Race, Democrat Steven Hunt who is running in District 3, and Ian Bradley Moller-Knudson, who is running as a Democrat in District 4.

Fiscal 2018 NDAA Includes Key Provision for Government Contractors

On Nov.16, 2017, Congress passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a provision directing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to study small business participation on Multiple Award Contracts. The SBA study is in response to a Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) study revealing that women small business owners are being shut out of large government contracts.

The NDAA legislation now will be sent to the president to sign into law.

The NDAA provision directs the SBA to address concerns that women-owned small businesses are underrepresented in Multiple Award Contracts (MACs). These are the type of contracts many federal agencies favor, because they create a pre-approved list of businesses that can supply unlimited goods or services during a specified period, usually between five to 10 years.

Big Win

The SBA study also will examine the participation of all other socio-economic categories of small businesses, including service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, those participating in the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program and participants in the 8(a) program.
“This is a big win for women small business owners. It will help them get into the game and win some of the government’s largest and most lucrative contracts by helping us fully understand the issue, which is the first step in finding a solution,” said WIPP President Jane Campbell. “We urge the president to sign this into law immediately.”

A report WIPP released in October 2016, “Do Not Enter: Women Being Shut Out of U.S. Government’s Biggest Contracts,” analyzed 19 of the government’s largest and most lucrative contracts — and found that 12 have requirements that ensure certain socio-economic groups have access to the contracts; but only a quarter have such requirements for women-owned firms.

Furthermore, a 2015 Department of Commerce report shows that the odds of a woman-owned small business winning a federal contract are 21% lower than those of their counterparts.
WIPP has made solving this problem a top priority and worked with Sens. Joni Ernst and Kirsten Gillibrand, who originally introduced the legislation, to more fully understand the issue. “We already know the country has a lot to gain by unleashing the economic potential of women entrepreneurs,” said Lisa Firestone, WIPP board chairwoman and owner of Managed Care Advisors, a government contractor based in Bethesda. “Women own 10 million U.S. businesses, generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues, and employ 8.4 million people. Imagine what they could do when competing on a level playing field.”

Counter Trend

Since its inception in 2001, WIPP has led the charge to ensure the women-owned contracting program had the same tools that support other small business contracting programs. WIPP has spent the past 15 years educating and advocating on behalf of the nation’s women entrepreneurs, with a focus on federal procurement policy.

WIPP has successfully advocated for expanding the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes in the WOSB (Woman-Owned Small Business) program, removing the caps on the dollar amounts of contracts awarded under the WOSB program as originally written and, most recently, inclusion of sole source contract authority in the program.
In recent years, as government spending has shrunk, these large, multiple-award contracts (MACs) have grown to 21% of the federal spend, with a growth rate of more than $100 million between fiscal 2013 and 2014. In fiscal 2017, 17 of the 20 largest federal contract opportunities are MACs.

This trend counters a renewed interest of Congress in the use of a diverse group of small businesses from across the socio-economic spectrum. SBA established the WOSB procurement program and other set-aside programs, including 8(a) Business Development Program, Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), to allow agencies to work directly with small, underrepresented businesses. The incorporation of that priority with MACs has left each agency to determine how to best ensure all groups have an opportunity to compete.
Importantly, both the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress have been clear in directing that no individual group have preference over another. Although agencies are not required to include socio-economic groups in these large contracts, exclusion of any of these groups, including women-owned companies, would represent significant federal spending that is now inaccessible.

Two Phases

The nomenclature for MACs is diverse. Certain industries have unique acronyms (e.g. GWACs serve only information technology industries), while individual agencies use disparate, but ultimately synonymic, terms. The alphabet soup of IDIQs, BPAs, IDVs, IDCs, MATOCs, etc., all point toward the key idea of two-phase contracting: initially awarding one contract to multiple companies; and second, allowing the pre-selected firms to compete for certain requirements called task orders.
Their size for the life of the contracts vary from a hundred million into the billions of dollars. For additional information regarding the NDAA and the WIPP “Do Not Enter” report, visit www.WIPP.org.

 

Gloria Larkin is president and CEO of TargetGov and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkin@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 for more information.

Polio Eradication Documentary Premieres at HCC

On a Saturday evening, Oct. 28, a sellout crowd gave a rousing standing ovation at the premiere of the new movie, “Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.” The film tells the story of how Rotary International (RI) became a primary force in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership that now includes the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The premiere was hosted by Howard Community College (HCC) in the Monteaboro Recital Hall of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, and was emceed by Ken Solow, former district governor for Rotary District 7620 and the executive producer and writer of the film.

The evening began with a special presentation to HCC President Kate Heatherington (accepted by Development Director Missy Mattey) from Rotary District Governor Greg Wims in recognition of HCC’s ongoing service to Rotary District 7620. After the presentation, the audience sat back and viewed the 56-minute, full-length production.

A ‘Dream’ in the Making

Two years in the making, “Dare to Dream” is owned by Rotary District 7620’s Project Trust Fund, a nonprofit entity used by Rotary clubs to support their local community. The film was funded by more than 70 contributors, including Rotary districts, Rotary clubs, local businesses and individual Rotarians and non-Rotarians.

The purpose of the production is to entertain, inspire and educate viewers about how a few leaders with a strong vision and great determination can change the world. The film’s story takes place during the period from 1978 to 1988. It is a prequel to the WHO declaring polio eradication to be a global health goal in 1988.

Solow said that one of the biggest challenges the production had to meet was to try to tell a complicated story that included Rotary history, Rotary politics and public health controversy in a one-hour documentary. Rotary leaders overcame a 50-year tradition of not being engaged with global service projects. In addition, the decision to eradicate polio came at a time when public health officials were strongly opposed to focusing on a single health problem, like eradicating a specific disease, and wanted to focus on improving primary health care for all.

Special Honor

Ken Solow and Ilana Bittner, the film’s director and editor, called special guest Dr. John Sever to the stage at the end of the evening to honor him for his continuing service to the cause of polio eradication. Sever was presented with a reproduction of his letter to Sir Clem Renouf, RI president from 1978–79, dated April 1979, recommending that if Rotary was to undertake a campaign to eradicate a disease, he would recommend polio.
Sever is widely recognized for his initial work in suggesting that Rotary get involved with polio eradication, as well as for being a central figure in Rotary’s advocacy efforts to get governments engaged with funding polio eradication. He continues to be an active participant in the eradication effort, taking meetings around the world on behalf of Rotary.

Future Plans

The distribution plans for the documentary are ongoing. Solow was scheduled to meet with Rotary International’s public relations staff in Evanston, Ill., at the end of November (too late to cover in this article) to discuss how to distribute the film throughout the Rotary world. Currently the plan is to provide every Rotary club in the world a free download of a 20-minute excerpt of the movie and use it to encourage clubs and other interested viewers to pay a nominal fee to download the full feature. The net proceeds would then be used to fund the Polio Plus campaign.

Polio is now endemic in only three countries in the world: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There are fewer than 20 cases of wild poliovirus so far in 2017, a reduction of 99.9% in cases since Rotary declared polio eradication to be a goal in 1985.

Three years after the last case is reported, the WHO will officially declare the disease to be eradicated. Until that time, countries will have to continue vaccinating children to protect them from polio, a childhood disease that cripples children.
To learn more about Rotary International and the polio eradication effort, or to make a contribution to polio eradication, visit Rotary.org.

Letter From Rotary International District 7620 Governor: Making A Difference

I am pleased to contribute this letter to the 2017 “Salute to Rotary International.” The “Salute,” published in the fall of each year, has become a tradition in Howard County, and I am greatly indebted to The Business Monthly for its support to Rotary International over these many years.

What Is Rotary?

Rotary International (RI) is the oldest and one of the largest service organizations in the world. The first Rotary club was formed in Chicago on Feb. 23, 1905, by Paul Harris. Harris was an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he experienced in the small towns of his youth. The name “Rotary” is derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

Since that time, Rotary has grown to become a worldwide association of more than 1.25 million members, with more than 34,558 clubs based in more than 200 countries and geographical entities around the world.

For administrative purposes, the clubs are divided into districts. The 61 Rotary clubs of Central Maryland and Washington, D.C., make up District 7620, one of 538 districts around the world.

Each of these clubs exists to provide service, promote high ethical standards and work toward world peace and understanding. The clubs meet weekly to plan and engage in service projects that seek to improve and enrich the lives of individuals, both locally and internationally.

Rotary’s signature project since 1985 has been the eradication of polio. Working in tandem with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other global partners, Rotarians have contributed more than $6 billion towards the polio eradication program.

In most parts of the world, polio was eradicated many years ago, but sadly, it still exists in isolated areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year, fewer than 40 cases have been reported worldwide, so we are very close to eradicating this scourge forever. When that happens, it will be only the second disease (after smallpox) in the world that has been eradicated.
I must specifically mention the incredible partnership that Rotary has developed with the Gates Foundation. The foundation has so far contributed $500 million and growing to Rotary’s own fundraising efforts.

The 2,200 Rotarians in District 7620 continue to be very active in their respective communities, from Oktoberfest in Frederick and Carroll counties, Crab Feasts in Anne Arundel County, Turkey Chase in Montgomery County, Duck Race in Washington, D.C., and Oyster Fests in St. Mary’s County.
Once again, many clubs in our Rotary District will provide dictionaries to third-grade students throughout Central Maryland and Washington, D.C. We will continue to support the establishment of an Endowment Fund for the students at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Rotary has always been extremely active within Howard County. Full details of the many projects supported by the seven Rotary clubs in Howard County appear elsewhere in this “Salute,” but let me quickly mention the project to help Head Start students go to summer camp. All of the Howard County Rotary clubs participate.

At the District 7620 level we have planted 1,100 trees towards our goal of 2,000 planted by June 30, 2018. We have also launched the opioid education program with educational forums around our District. Tom Allen from the Columbia-Patuxent Rotary is the chair for this project.

We have two new programs that started in September: the CART program (“Coins for Alzheimer’s Research”), and two satellite clubs: one in Emory Grove, north of Gaithersburg, and the other in Brunswick outside of Frederick. We have also increased our giving to Disaster Aid USA, which was started here in District 7620. Last year our membership donated $100,000, and this year we have donated $225,000 and growing. The increase is due partly to the number of hurricanes this year.

“Making A Difference” is the Rotary theme for this year. RI President Ian Riseley selected the theme and has asked Rotarians worldwide to Make A Difference. I encourage all of you who are reading this article to join a Rotary club in Howard County. Howard County has a long and proud history of service.

By joining with Rotary, you, too, can “Make A Difference.” Please contact District Executive Secretary Sherry Whitworth at rotary@district7620.org or at 240-205-9861 for more information.

Rotary Foundation: A Century of Doing Good

Starting with an initial contribution of $26.50 during the 1917 Rotary International (RI) convention, outgoing Rotary president Arch Klumph proposed setting up an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” Over the next 100 years, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) would spend more than $3 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects. The service projects of RI and its more than 33,000 Rotary clubs and more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide have made an impact in saving and improving lives through providing clean water, supporting education, fighting disease and promoting world peace.
Known globally for its pioneering project to eradicate polio from the face of the earth, Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation have reduced the incidence of polio from an estimated 350,000 cases 30 years ago to only 12 reported so far in 2017.
In 2016, noted for its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, The Rotary Foundation received the highest possible score — 100 points out of 100 — from Charity Navigator, an American, independent charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. It was the ninth straight year TRF earned a four-star rating from the watchdog, a distinction only 1% of charities have attained.
Also in 2016, The Association of Fundraising Professionals named the Foundation the World’s Outstanding Foundation for 2016. Both of the organizations followed the money donated and agreed that donating to The Rotary Foundation is a wise investment.

How It Works
“To ensure that the funds for the projects are there when needed,” said past Rotary International President Ron D. Burton, chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee, “all contributions to the Foundation’s Annual Fund are invested for three years.”
After three years, the investment earnings on the donated funds go toward the operating expenses of the Foundation while the principal amount goes toward grants, programs and projects. The principal is split 50/50, with half going to the individual districts from whence the funds were donated and half going into the World Fund, a pool that the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation use to match grants where they are most needed.
Six elements of sustainability must be addressed in the design of a global grant project: start with the community, encourage local ownership, provide training, buy local, find local funding and measure success. These elements ensure that the project provides long-term solutions that the community itself can support after the grant ends. Before Rotarians design projects, they must talk to people in the community to understand what the community needs.

Recognizing Noteworthy Grants
To celebrate its 100th year, The Rotary Foundation recognized 20 global grants that exemplify what it believes a project should include: a sustainable endeavor; a project that aligns with one of Rotary’s areas of focus (promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; growing local economies; and ending polio forever); and is designed with the community to address a real need. Some of those 20 projects are outlined below.

Equipping a neonatal intensive care unit in Brazil
Area of focus: Saving mothers and children
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Registro, Brazil
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Nakatsugawa, Japan
Total budget: $172,500
Neonatal mortality rates were significantly higher in the Ribeira Valley area of southern São Paulo state. The Rotarians worked with the Hospital Regional Dr. Leopoldo Bevilacqua in Pariquera-Açu to determine the best approach. The grant provided equipment for the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and provided prenatal care and breast-feeding workshops for pregnant adolescents.
As a result, infant mortality in the region was halved, to seven per 1,000 live births.

Teaching peaceful problem-solving in Israel
Area of focus: Promoting peace
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Haifa, Israel
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Coral Springs-Parkland, Fla., USA
Total budget: $161,750
Israel faces challenges with water scarcity and ongoing conflict. This water project has a “hidden” peace component: Water challenges form the basis of a science curriculum that helps schoolchildren from different backgrounds in Haifa find solutions peacefully and creatively.
Students from 10 schools worked together to present 38 science projects focused on water and sanitation. One project involving students from three schools won first prize in a national competition. Schools also participated in 15 cross-cultural activities.

Bringing clean water to public schools in Lebanon
Area of focus: Providing clean water
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Baabda, Lebanon
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Kernersville, N.C., USA
Total budget: $43,550
Municipal water supplies in Lebanon are often tainted because of deteriorating infrastructure. Many public schools collect rainwater in rusty tanks, leading to contamination and illness. The influx of refugees from Syria has made schools even more crowded. This grant supplied new water tanks, pipes, filters and faucets to 19 schools; it also provided hygiene training.
Now, 6,743 children have access to clean water, and the project is being replicated throughout the country. Rotarians in Lebanon aim to bring clean water to every public school — more than 1,000.

Providing safe water for rural communities in Peru
Area of focus: Providing clean water
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón, Peru
International sponsor: District 2201 (Spain)
Total budget: $258,195
Before the project, residents drank untreated spring water, and the rate of intestinal and respiratory diseases, especially among infants and the elderly, was high. The project repaired 32 reservoirs and installed gravity-fed drip chlorination systems for drinking water, and trained residents to administer and maintain the system.
More than 10,000 people now have clean drinking water. The Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón has only 11 members.

Improving literacy in Guatemala
Area of focus: Supporting education
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Guatemala Vista Hermosa, Guatemala
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Summit County (Frisco), Colo., USA
Total budget: $339,191
The Guatemala Literacy Project is a 20-year partnership between Rotary clubs and districts and the nonprofit Cooperative for Education. This global grant provided textbooks, computer labs, teacher training and scholarships to impoverished schools. The sustainable model requires families to pay a fee to rent the donated textbooks; schools use the money to buy new books when the old ones wear out.
This grant served 5,880 students and trained 337 teachers. First-graders in the program scored 71% higher than the national average in letter naming.

Providing equipment for indigenous farmers in Paraguay
Area of focus: Growing local economies
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Asunción, Paraguay
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Flensburg, Germany
Total budget: $52,500
Indigenous residents of the village of El Paraiso, 300 miles north of the capital, Asunción, relied on subsistence farming. The Rotarians provided agricultural equipment — a tractor, plow and harrow — and worked with an organization that provides vocational training to the village chiefs and makes regular visits to the village to monitor progress.
Two weeks after the launch of the project, the villagers planted 500 acres of sesame.

Fighting cervical cancer in rural Bangladesh
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Padma Rajshahi, Bangladesh
International sponsor: Rotary Club of North Columbus, Ga., USA
Total budget: $59,500
Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in deaths from cervical cancer. Project sponsors worked with the Rajshahi Cancer Hospital and Research Center to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer through vaccinations, and worked to raise awareness about symptoms and funded training for female paramedics in 10 villages around Rajshahi.
Nearly 1,000 girls and women ages 9 to 45 participated in the program.

Bridging the health care gap in Mongolia with smartphones
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Khuree, Mongolia
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Cheonan-Dosol, Korea
Total budget: $50,000
More than 300 villages in Mongolia are so remote that access to advanced health services is limited. Doctors in 55 villages received smartphones and training in a tele-dermatology system through a user-friendly app. The app was developed in Mongolia.

Fighting dengue fever in Indonesia
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Solo Kartini, Indonesia
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Westport, Conn., USA
Total budget: $70,725
Dengue fever is the fastest-spreading tropical disease and a pandemic threat, according to the World Health Organization. The project aimed to interrupt the life cycle of the mosquito that carries dengue in parts of Surakarta by eliminating a common breeding site. The sponsors tiled the cement bathtubs that are common in Indonesian homes with white ceramic tiles, which make mosquito larvae more visible, and trained residents to check for the larvae and to empty, scrub, and cover their tubs to prevent infestation. Community social workers followed up weekly.
The Rotarians tiled 3,500 tubs. The government is now interested in taking up the project. The host club’s members are all women.

To make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, contact one of the local Rotary clubs listed on page 22 or go to www.rotary.org.

Working Together for 50 Years Practicing Service Above Self

Once the development of Columbia began, it wasn’t long before businesses and organizations followed to create a more complete community. One of those organizations was the Rotary Club of Columbia. Founded in November 1967, five months after the town was “born,” it was officially chartered on March 22, 1968, by Rotary International.

The Rotary Club of Columbia (Columbia Rotary) was founded by William “Bill” Jefferson and James “Jim” McDiarmid. Jefferson was a former Lewes, Del., banker and came to Columbia as president of the Columbia Bank. McDiarmid was a former Niagara Falls nuclear manager and moved to Columbia as director of administration for a firm making nuclear buoys for use off Maryland’s coast. Both were Rotarians and, “We agreed that Columbia would benefit from the service ideals of a Rotary Club,” said McDiarmid, still a member of the club, having served as District Governor in 2003–2004. “And we believed Rotary would benefit from a club in Columbia.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary during the 2017–2018 year, the Columbia Rotary club is in full birthday mode. “We just had our 50th golf tournament in September, which was another great success,” said club president (and The Business Monthly Publisher) Becky Mangus. “This is one of our annual fundraisers that allows us to provide funds and support to the local community.”

“Our individual members also will participate in 50 projects during our 50th year,” said Mangus. “That sounds like a lot, but we do almost that every year. We already participate in Rebuilding Together each April. Tom Briscoe, one of our members who passed away a couple of years ago, was one of the founding members of the Howard County chapter of Christmas in April (now Rebuilding Together), and we have participated every year since then. We also help the Howard County Loan Closet, which we helped start in 2005 as a Rotary Centennial project. Our members provide pickup and delivery services for the durable medical supplies when clients can’t get to the Loan Closet on their own.

“Another project we do is purchase and deliver dictionaries to third-graders in Howard County. We are asked, ‘Why books?’ But we have found [that] books still are treasured by the young people. They still love having a book that is their own, that they can put their name in and use whenever they want. Our feedback from teachers, students and parents is that the dictionaries are still worth providing — so we will continue to do so until we find they are no longer of value. We also look forward to working at the Howard County Food Bank and reading to the children in the Head Start Summer Enrichment program as some of our ‘50 in 50’ over the rest of the year.”

Giving Locally and Worldwide

The Rotary Club of Columbia also raises and contributes funds to local charities. More than $1.5 million has been distributed over the past 50 years to nonprofits including Camp Attaway, First Tee of Howard County, Head Start Summer Enrichment Program, Making Change, Bright Minds Foundation, Columbia Festival of the Arts, FIDOS for Freedom, FIRN, Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, HC DrugFree, Howard County General Hospital, Howard County Police Unity Tour, Howard County Special Olympics, Linwood Children’s Center, Success In Style and Voices for Children, just to name a few.

“We try to give funds to organizations that don’t have a large budget, or for specific projects,” said Herb Moltzan, club treasurer. “That way, the amount we contribute can have a greater impact. But we also have a few ongoing programs that we support year-to-year. For 10 years, we have contributed toward a Howard Community College Rouse Scholarship; for 26 years, we provided $6,000 each year for high school scholar/athletes; for the past 12 years we have given to the Howard County Loan Closet; for 26 years, we have contributed to Rebuilding Together; and for the past three years, we have joined with other Howard County Rotaries to support Head Start’s Summer Enrichment Program.”

“What is great about this club,” said Mangus, “is when a member has a passion for something, everyone gets on board to support it. Rotary in general is about giving, but this club is a golden example. Early in our club history, the Linwood Children’s Center was having financial difficulties. Our club was able to contribute enough to keep it going short-term, and it is now a nationally-recognized center for children with autism. One of our members goes to Uganda each year and works with a program to educate women and help them with self-sufficiency. When he first asked for support, we did not have the funds in our budget, but every member raised his or her hand and pledged personal support. The next year, and every year after, we have put funds into our budget to contribute toward the project. This last year, he gave dictionaries to students, and the reception from the students in Uganda was incredible.”

The club also has been instrumental in creating new projects such as Soup’r Sundae that benefits Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. “Several years ago, a few club members invited Jean Moon to breakfast to discuss projects we could do to benefit Grassroots,” said Mangus, “and we came up with the idea of Soup’r Sundae. It still continues to be a very successful program each March. Although we no longer hold the event, we do contribute as a sponsor.”

Two other programs for which the Rotary Club of Columbia is proud of its involvement include working with the Freestate Challenge Academy in Aberdeen, a program that offers at-risk adolescents 16 to 18 years old an opportunity to change their future. “One of our members, a military veteran, was active with this program and suggested we participate when we could,” said club member John Startt. “As a result, we have worked with Freestate, that has participated in Rebuilding Together; we have sponsored Freestate students to participate in the Rotary District 4-Way Test Contest, and we have sent four students each year to the District’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards weekend program.”

Outstanding Speakers

“As important as our projects and giving to the community are, for our members, fellowship and programming are key elements, as well, to a healthy club,” said Mangus. “In my opinion, we have the most interesting speakers, certainly very diverse programming, and our club is never short of asking questions or having opinions. Our meetings always provide an interesting and thought provoking evening.”

Just in the past three months, some of the speakers have included Dr. Hank Boyd, assistant dean of the University of Maryland School of Business; Del. Vanessa Atterbeary; Howard County Interim School Superintendent Dr. Mike Martirano; Howard Community College President Dr. Kate Hetherington; and Rabbi Susan Grossman, among others. Each year, a representative from NASA speaks, with Dr. Herb Frey having presented “Pluto to the Eco-System” in March.

The club also has quarterly potluck meals at members’ homes and invites family members to join in. “As with any group that you take the time to know, people you may not have thought would be friends are. What a great way to go outside of your normal box, plus do a lot of good things in the community and worldwide,” said Mangus.

Most Proud

“I am proud of the club participating in the Rotary Foundation,” said McDiarmid, “much of which goes to help the needy worldwide. The Foundation is rated No. 1 among all charitable foundations worldwide. Along with the Foundation, [the club participates] in the polio eradication program. There used to be hundreds of thousands of people with polio, many in iron lungs or crippling agony. Today, there are less than 12 — that’s 12 people — worldwide. I also am proud that our membership has fun, lots of laughs, along with very sharp meeting participation, and we have full participation in our many Howard County service projects.”

“For a number of years, we have contributed money to a girl’s school in Sierra Leone for school supplies,” said Mangus. “This was a project founded by one of our young members. This last year, with the Ebola outbreak, nine of the girls could not go home ­— they live at school — as they were from the region that was hardest hit. We gave money to help keep the girls at school during the summer. Four of the girls were left orphaned, and our club has since ‘adopted’ one young girl to help keep her in high school instead of the alternative of getting married at the age of 14. Given that, how can you not feel that you have made a difference?”

“Our club is composed of people that are highly respected in Columbia for their achievements and accomplishments, “ said President-Elect Dave Parris. “But I am most proud of their universal commitment in giving back to the community and beyond through our Rotary Club’s local and international service projects —as well as being some of the nicest people that I have had the privilege to know.”

Member and long-time Howard County participant and activist Vernon Gray said, “I enjoy Rotary because of community and the networking it affords. Furthermore, at meetings, it provides special opportunities to listen to engaging and interesting speakers and discuss issues of high relevance.”

The Rotary Club of Columbia is planning a picnic anniversary celebration in the spring, inviting past members and those who have been involved in Rotary and the club. “It will be a kick-off for the next 50 years,” said Mangus.

Rotary International: The Basics

“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.”
—Paul P. Harris, founder of Rotary

Rotary International (RI) was first founded on Feb. 23, 1905, when four businessmen in Chicago met and formed a group where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
Paul P. Harris is credited as the founder of Rotary, and that first club, The Rotary Club of Chicago’s mission quickly shifted to include a more altruistic focus. As the novel idea of a service club spread, within 16 years, other Rotary clubs sprang up, first on the west coast and then throughout the United States and beyond. Today, there are more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide in more than 200 countries on all seven continents.
Rotary has survived even the hardest of times. During World War II, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Japan were forced to disband. However, many continued to meet informally, and following the war’s end, members rebuilt their clubs. And in 1992, just months after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, a Rotary club was chartered in Ukraine.
The impact Rotary has had on the world is impressive. Not only have Rotarians been responsible for improving the quality of life worldwide, but they also have had a hand in helping a wide range of international and service organizations get started, including the United Nations and Easter Seals.

Three Levels: How It Works
The local Rotary clubs are the heart of Rotary. They bring together individuals who are dedicated to serving both their local communities and worldwide, to exchange ideas, build relationships and take action.
Rotary International supports the world’s Rotary clubs by coordinating global programs, campaigns and initiatives. Its headquarters is in Evanston, Ill. Each year, a Rotary International president is selected; previous presidents have hailed from such places as Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan. The current president is from Victoria, Australia.
The Rotary Foundation, founded in 1917 by RI’s sixth president, Arch Klumph, is a nonprofit whose funding comes from voluntary contributions made by Rotarians and friends. It uses these donations to fund projects proposed, and often in collaboration with, Rotarians and other partners in communities around the world.
The foundation uses only the interest it earns on contributions it receives. Ninety percent of that interest is used toward projects and grants. The other 10% of the interest goes for administrative purposes.
Projects such as the eradication of polio, construction of drinking wells in underprivileged countries, safe blood projects, the provision of educational materials to children in third-world countries and supplying mosquito netting for the prevention of malaria are just a few of the projects helping the people worldwide.

‘Service Above Self’
Each year, the RI president selects a theme for the year; this year’s theme is “Making A Difference.” However, the phrase that best describes Rotary — and has since 1909 — is “Service Above Self,” adopted as the organization’s official motto in 1950.
Rotary’s mission is to provide service to others; promote integrity; and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through its fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.
RI also has two important philosophies that Rotarians follow. The first is the Object of Rotary, which is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
• First: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
• Second: High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
• Third: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business and community life;
• Fourth: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
The second philosophy is what is called the “4-Way Test.” The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions.
Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotary International recognizes the value of diversity within individual clubs. A club that reflects its community with regard to professional and business classification, gender, age, religion and ethnicity is a club that has a significant influence on its local community as well as contributes to helping to make a more caring and healthy world.
With more than 34,000 clubs around the world, many working together, a village can have many friends.

No News Isn’t Necessarily Good News

Never has it been more important than now to be on the lookout for weak links in the promotion, delivery or performance of your product or service. Skip a beat in any of them and you could be on the receiving end of a viral public relations nightmare.

Remember #unitedbreaksguitars, the story of a musician who helplessly watched as his band’s guitars were hurled across a tarmac by airline employees? After landing, his fears were confirmed and his guitar had been broken. To add insult to injury, the company gave him the run-around about his claim.
Wrong a musician and you could end up in a song and the spotlight, as did United Airlines, for all the wrong reasons. Of course, it’s much more likely that if you displease a customer by failing to deliver on advertised products or promised service that you’ll end up with a negative customer review on Yelp, HomeAdvisor, BBB, Facebook and so on.
Are you rolling your eyes yet?

Actually, those are the customers you should be thanking. Why? According to the 2017 BBB Trust Sentiment Index by Nielsen, one out of three customers surveyed decided not to complain, because they didn’t feel it was worth their time. In reality, a significant number of customer voices go unheard.
Be proactive. Make it easy for your customers to give feedback and complain. Be responsive and take care of the issue when they do. Only 25% of the customers who had reached out about an issue felt it was easy to contact the business. Furthermore, almost half of the customers who contacted the business said the company failed to resolve the issue to their satisfaction.
What’s the lifetime value of your average customer? Customer acquisition is expensive. Can you really afford not to pay attention? A whopping 61% of customers surveyed said they would do business again with a company that addressed their concerns. Even 14% indicated they’d be willing to give the business another go if it admitted wrongdoing.

Use these findings as an incentive to take a closer look at how you connect with customers, before and after the sale, but don’t stop there; if your dispute resolution process isn’t working, seek advice. Dave Carroll, the musician United Airlines tried to ignore, gets paid now to speak on the importance of customer service, social media, branding and the power of one voice to make a difference.

If Dave’s booked, contact BBB. You can reach us at 410-400-4BBB.We’re happy to help.

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

Happily Forgotten

In the beginning of November, the executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter were hauled before Congress and asked embarrassing questions about fake accounts and spreading rumors on social media — and in general raked over the coals — for dispensing misinformation and distrust during the 2016 elections.

The fact that some of the ads were paid for in rubles sort of undercut the “Golly gosh, we didn’t know” stance they tried to project.

So what happened?

Much was made of bringing social media, especially the biggest players, under the same type of disclosure requirements that newspapers and TV stations have: the source of lines such as, “Paid for by Friends of Senator Bullbleep, Vladimir Notme, treasurer” or “I’m Ralph Rotten, and I approved this ad.”
One bill introduced, the “Honest Ads Act,” would require platforms with more than 50 million monthly views to create a public database of political ads purchased by a group or person that spent more than $500, including a description of the ad and the target audience, the number of views, when it ran and contact information of the purchaser.

Of course, much of the transparency wished for could be hidden by creating (always patriotic-sounding) “committees,” like “True Americans for Senator Bullbleep.” But, it’s a start.
Anyway, have you heard anything lately?

It has been referred to the United States Senate Committee of Rules and Administration, where it probably will be gutted, if not killed outright.

If that seems cynical, compare how much attention that issue has gotten since the public show in November. Nada. It has been lost in the latest saga of Grope-a-Rama and the finger-pointing there. The tech giants are happy to watch it fade, no doubt.

Let Insanity Reign

Did you do your Black Friday shopping early this year? Most of the big-box stores started their hyperfrenzy even earlier this year, with promotions starting in early November.

No doubt spurred on by fear that people would visit their competitors’ early sales, retailers moved the insanity back from Black Friday to Thanksgiving to “how about right now?” After all, how many flat screens do you need? If you get yours early somewhere else, the other retailers are out of luck. It’s sort of like the “save the date” cards arriving for a June wedding in February; stake it out before anyone else.

Nonetheless, this year’s Black Friday was projected to be the busiest online shopping day in history. So the early “deals days” held another purpose for retailers: testing out their websites to see if they could handle the traffic. They can lose millions of dollars if the site goes down for even a short time, so stress testing is useful.

I’ll be interested in seeing how Toys-R-Us does this season. It has already filed for bankruptcy but, at least as of September, company representatives said that this does not mean that it’s closing all its stores.

Some closures are certain to come, just as they did for Eddie Bauer after its bankruptcy; still, the company survived. The most affected companies will probably be toy manufacturers. Shortly after Toys-R-Us’s announcement, stock values for Mattel and Hasbro fell more than $800 million. Only Wal-Mart sells more of their products, so this was certainly a kick.
Will sales at Amazon make it up? If I were a supplier, I’d certainly be looking at cash up front.

It Never Ends

The FCC will vote, probably by the year’s end, on loosening the rules on net neutrality that keep suppliers from blocking or giving preferential treatment to some websites over others. Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have lobbied hard to gut the protections approved in 2015 and are about to get their wishes.
As a result, about 30 states have proposed their own laws, using consumer protection statutes, to countermand the FCC proposal. This should set up an interesting confrontation between federal and local authorities. The FCC has no power to preempt state consumer protection laws, even if it can regulate things involving communications at the federal level, which generally take precedence. This case will probably boil down to what is classified as consumer protection.

So, the song goes on forever. My money (if not my heart) is on the big guys, whose lobbyists will work forever diligently on this. As long as they’re paid.

Creaking Along

In an effort to catch up with much of the 20th century (let alone the 21st), the Supreme Court has just allowed access to briefs and other case documents on its website. As chief Justice John Roberts has said, “The courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity.” Do tell.

Actual filings still will be required to be 40 copies on “opaque paper of not less than 60 pounds in weight.” Lawyers are also required to file electronically as well, although prisoners are exempt. It’s still hard to get decent Internet access behind bars, I suppose.

 

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and offers PC troubleshooting, data retrieval and network setup services — when not casting a wary eye on anything Congressional. He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at cliff@feldwick.com. Older columns are available online at http://feldwick.com.

Going Worldwide: The Gift of Travel to Heirs

 

The holiday season is upon us, and across the country, Amazon shopping carts once again will start filling up with gifts for loved ones.

However, while America’s love for consumerism is not likely to fizzle anytime soon, there does appear to be a shift — particularly within the millennial generation, towards favoring travel and leisure over material goods. Observant parents and grandparents are taking note and looking for ways to foster more meaningful giving experiences.

Now Boarding:

Legacy Class

A growing trend in the estate planning community is the use of trusts to fund travel for heirs. Travel-related trusts can cover travel broadly or be intended for very specific purposes. Some examples are as follows.

• Funding a loved one’s dream trip

• Facilitating family visits/reunions that otherwise might not occur because of geographical distances

• Providing funds to support studying abroad

• Supporting philanthropic work in a third-world country

• Encouraging children/grandchildren to become acquainted with their roots by visiting the homeland of ancestors
An experienced estate planning attorney will work with the creator of the trust to ensure that the terms are in accordance with their wishes.

Travel ‘Insurance’

In addition to really having a say in how your estate is used, another upside to allocating trust funds for a specific purpose, such as travel, is that it offers protection against the misuse of funds (e.x. blowing the money on an expensive new sports car) and protects against creditors, divorce, etc. There also can be tax advantages to using trusts vs. giving inheritances outright.

The Bottom Line?

The beauty of estate planning is the knowledge that your intentions and wishes will be honored. Gifting travel to heirs can be very gratifying, knowing that you are not simply leaving behind money or belongings, but experiences that will lead to a lifetime of memories. Through the use of travel trusts, you really have the world at your fingertips.

Gary Altman is the principal and founder of Altman & Associates. He can be reached at 301-468-3220 and gary@altmanassoicates.net.

Howard County Chamber

Basu: ‘New Bubbles Are Forming’

“Momentum should see us through 2018, but by this time in 2019 or 2020, the economy could be in a far different place and likely will be.” That was just one of the conclusions reached by economist Anirban Basu, shared at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce’s (HCCC) annual Economic Forecast Breakfast.

Basu began his talk with a summary on economic conditions globally, touching on the factors that have led to an all-time high for global debt. “Nationally, we are in the 101st month of the current economic recovery,” he said, adding that no recovery can last forever. In general, Basu said growth in personal consumption has been driving America’s growth, rather than investment.

Since the 2016 election, Basu said that businesses have reported an increase in confidence because of policy proposals for tax reform, a decrease in the corporate tax rate and infrastructure investment. But, that confidence hasn’t led to actual investment yet.

Basu then turned the conversation to Maryland and Howard County, saying that Maryland is currently ranked third in the country for job creation, which he said he has never seen before in his 26 years as an economist. Howard County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but he said the statistics don’t tell the whole story.

He humorously referred to Howard County as “schizophrenic” when it comes to development. Basu predicted that there will be a rising demand during the next decade for single-family homes, as millennials enter their mid-30s; but also said demand may not lead to enough new single-family homes being built. That’s because of the mentality of some residents that Howard County has experienced enough development.

 

HCCC Celebrates Vets

The audience in a packed room listened as Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Thomas Rickard talked about his life in the service and his role at Fort Meade at the HCCC’s Salute to Veterans Luncheon. He also went into detail about the relationship the base has with the Howard County community.
Rickard also talked about how Fort Meade (and its surrounds) has become a cybercorridor with the base at its nexus, including NSA and the U.S. CyberCommand. Because of this location, his highest priority is to make sure workers can get to work safely and quickly.

The state is conducting extensive work on the roadways in, and surrounding, the base to ease the flow of traffic. Rickard added there are currently several new buildings rising as part of the NSA campus to accommodate the thousands of employees expected to arrive.

 

HCCC Welcomes Yearwood

The HCCC has welcomed Brianne Yearwood as it new director of membership. Most recently employed by AAA Mid-Atlantic, Yearwood has a background in public relations, marketing and sales. She can be reached at byearwood@howardchamber.com.

Jingle Mingle Invites Going Out

The HCCC hasn’t revealed details about its annual Jingle Mingle Holiday Party, but it will be held at The Residences at Annapolis Junction. Tickets are on sale for the party on Dec. 14, and there are sponsorship opportunities remaining. Visit www.howardchamber.com for tickets, and email ksimon@howardchamber.com for information about sponsorships.

Central Maryland Chamber

Benefitting From Chamber Membership

The new year is just around the corner. As you enjoy the holidays, you may also think about ways to boost your business in 2018. An independent study conducted by the Atlanta-based Shapiro Group showed that chamber membership is a smart part of any business marketing plan. Specifically, the study showed that consumers are 80% more likely to buy from a chamber member. Here are five ways to take advantage of being a chamber member.

• Get involved. Jump right in. As a new member there are many opportunities to take advantage of, but you can’t do them all at once. Work with your membership director to develop a strategic plan, tailored to your business goals, for getting the most out of your membership. Then jump in and get started.
• Step outside your comfort zone, but not alone. We only grow when we are being challenged. The chamber offers many ways to meet new people in comfortable settings, as well as providing referrals and introductions. The chamber also offers training programs that can help you and/or your team acquire new skills and gain new ideas that can take your business to the next level.

• Map your journey. Your membership director can help you create a map that will help you achieve your goals through the new year. Set up a meeting to map out your journey.
• Ask for help. Anyone who truly succeeds in life gets help along the way. Use your connections to meet people who can help you solve challenges, provide introductions and grow your business.
• Givers gain the most. As the new year unfolds, be on the lookout for ways you can give to others, and in turn, you will find that you gain much of what you need.

For more information on how chamber membership can help you grow your business in the new year, contact Nancy LaJoice, Central Maryland Chamber membership director, at 410-672-3422, ext. 4 or Nancy@CentralMarylandChamber.org.

From the Desk of CA President Milton Matthews

Whenever we discuss Downtown Columbia, much attention (and rightfully so) goes to the redevelopment that will help the community realize Jim Rouse’s vision of a vibrant urban hub. But a fixture of downtown — The Mall in Columbia — also will continue to have an integral role in that plan, even as millions upon millions of square feet of retail, residential and office space, as well as other amenities and attractions, are built up in nearby lots and neighborhoods.

The Mall in Columbia has been an anchor and a centerpiece destination since opening in 1971. It remains a significant draw. It is home to approximately 215 shops and restaurants, and encompasses 1.43 million square feet. The mall quickly became a fixture of the community and the region, back when the building only reached from Hochschild Kohn (now Macy’s) to Woodward & Lothrop (now JCPenney).

Demand has led to the mall expanding — another wing and another anchor (Sears) added in 1981, the addition of Lord & Taylor and parking garages in 1998, a third wing and Nordstrom opening in 1999, and restaurants and a movie theater opening up outside of the mall between 2001 and 2005.
These days, the mall continues to evolve.

It is adjusting to changing times and a changing vision for Columbia’s downtown. Sears now has a smaller footprint, so several new destinations will be opening in its former upstairs space to create a different kind of anchor. An outdoor plaza is a community gathering place as well as a shopping avenue that, ultimately, will help guide those strolling to walk from Downtown Columbia into the mall, then perhaps down to the Columbia Lakefront.

That is the vision — that individuals will go beyond merely visiting the mall or Merriweather Post Pavilion, and will see downtown itself as a destination, experiencing multiple areas and amenities during each visit. Unlike other malls, which are typically set up in places with little around them, the location of The Mall in Columbia will encourage individuals to see both the mall and, well, Columbia.

And they will continue to visit. The mall draws an audience from well beyond Howard County. Between 70%–80% of its customers come from a trade area that reaches into the surrounding counties and includes a population of more than 860,000 people. It has been a place for one-stop shopping, thriving thanks to its mix of shops and restaurants and fun activities, including not only the movie theater, but also the carousel, a play area for kids and an entertainment venue that is soon to open in part of the former upstairs Sears space.

Howard County residents and neighbors in the area have been fortunate to have The Mall in Columbia as an economic driver and as a destination for more than 45 years. I look forward to the day when the new development complements and augments the experience of being downtown, when people come for one-stop shopping and realize how much more there will be to see and enjoy.

E-mail milton.matthews@columbiaassociation.org with questions/comments.

2017: What a Year It Has Been

What a year 2017 has been. Anyone who watched TV, listened to the radio, logged on to the Internet or read a newspaper could not escape the events — man-made and natural — of the past year. The bad news was so pervasive that, at one point, I almost expected to hear an announcement that the sun had turned as black as sackcloth and the moon had turned blood red.

There is no need for me to go into detail because the loss of life, property and faith have been well reported, documented and discussed. So, it’s no surprise that the worldwide wine business was not immune to the bad news of 2017, particularly in Italy, France and Spain, which are the first, second and third largest wine producers in the world. And then there’s California.

Please know that I am not minimizing the level of suffering, devastation and destruction endured by so many people this year by making a comparison to the wine business. This is, after all, an article about wine, and there is some interesting news to share about the 2017 vintage that may impact the supply, quality and prices of some wines in the coming years.

In Italy

This past summer, Italy suffered through weeks of oppressive 100-degree-plus temperatures. This, plus the lack rain, has impacted the grape harvest. If that wasn’t enough, late spring frost and hailstorms in many parts of the country compounded the problem.

The spring frost and hail damaged many vines, cutting down the quantity of the harvest, while the summer heat accelerated growth and resulted in grapes with low acidity. In many areas, the harvest started two or three weeks early; then rain in early September slowed the ripening of some of the later-ripening varieties.

The regions of Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria and Puglia were among the hardest hit, with Sicily escaping the spring frost, but not the summer heat. Production overall is estimated to be about 23% below that of 2016.

In France

Spring came early in France; thus the growing season started a couple of weeks sooner than usual. Then, in late April, severe frost over several nights caused damage, to varying degrees, to vines in most of the major wine areas. Some vineyards even lost their entire crop.

Many areas in Bordeaux really took a beating. The Medoc was mostly spared; however, Saint-Emilion, Sauternes and Graves weren’t so lucky, and overall, 2017’s crop is about half of 2016’s harvest. Most of Burgundy was spared, though Chablis, Châtillonnais and the Mâconnais saw considerable damage.

Champagne, Loire and Alsace also saw lower yields, due to the frost. The hot and dry summer put additional pressure on the harvests in the Rhone and in the south of France. Producers still are optimistic that the quality of the 2017 wines from some areas will be very good, but production is expected to be down by about 18% compared to that of 2016.

Northern Spain

Wine regions in Italy and France weren’t the only ones to be damaged by late April frost. The northern Spanish regions of Galicia, Castilla y Léon and Rioja experienced overnight temperatures in the low 20s.

In Galicia, 70% of the vineyards in Ribeiro and Valdeorras were affected. In Castilla y Léon, Bierzo was hit the hardest, with about 80% of the vineyards damaged; 75% of the vineyards in the Rioja Alta and Alavesa areas of Rioja also were damaged.
Ongoing drought conditions made matters worse, further reducing yields and hampering efforts to rehydrate the vines. Overall, Spanish wine production is down about 15% compared to last year.

California Burning

Who can forget the images of the walls of wind-blown flames racing through residential neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, in California’s Sonoma County? Or the images of Northern California burning, as firefighters battled the flames in an effort to save lives and property?

As I write this article, 42 people have lost their lives, with dozens still missing. Almost 200,000 acres have burned in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, and about 5,500 houses have completely burned. An additional 4,000 residences were damaged.

As this story was unfolding, it seemed possible that Northern California’s wine industry might go up in smoke. Now that we have more information, reports are that the impact was not as devastating as first thought, but tell that to the two dozen wineries that were completely or partially destroyed.

About 90% of the harvest was already in when the fires started, but there was still some Cabernet Sauvignon and other late ripening varieties still on the vine. There is still a wait-and-see attitude about the 2017 vintage. It is possible that the grapes that were still on the vine were affected by the smoke. Power outages, evacuations and road closures during the fires interrupting the processing of the harvest all could have an effect on the quantity and quality of the wines from this vintage.

What It All Means

The world’s top four wine-producing countries suffered setbacks, reduced yields and lower production, with Italian, French and Spanish production down considerably, while it is hoped that effects from the California fires will result in only a minimal drop in U.S. production. The jury is still out, however, on what impact the challenges of the 2017 vintage will have on the quantity, quality and price of the wines.
As another year ends, I’m looking forward to celebrating the holidays with family and friends — and enjoying great food and great wine. All the best for a happy and healthy 2018. Cheers.

 

Sam Audia is a former advertising and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry. He is a wine specialist at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits, in Annapolis, holds a Certification Diploma from the Sommelier Society of America, and Intermediate and Advanced certificates from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. He can be reached at sippingwithsam@verizon.net.

Business Briefs

BWI Marshall Prepares for Holidays, Eases Roadway Congestion
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport announced several changes to prevent traffic congestion along the terminal roadway during the holiday season. Through Jan. 15, it will offer customers the first hour of parking in the Hourly Garage for free. It makes use of the BWI Smart Park system, an automated parking guidance system that directs customers to open parking spaces.
During holidays, hotel shuttles, off-airport parking shuttles and transportation network companies will be required to use the upper level/departures level roadway to drop off and pick up customers. BWI Marshall will add about 50 additional spaces to the Cell Phone Lot during this time, as it adds a free, convenient location for motorists to wait away from the terminal until contact is made with arriving passengers.
To help ensure the safety and security of travelers, local motorists are reminded that parking along the terminal curbside and I-195 is dangerous and strictly prohibited. Information on all parking options, including directions, is available at www.BWIairport.com.

ReFirm Announces $1.5M in Funding From DataTribe, Launches Platform
ReFirm Labs, of Maple Lawn, has received $1.5 million in initial funding and is launching its Centrifuge Platform, which automatically detects security vulnerabilities in the firmware that runs billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, consumer electronics and other connected enterprise machines.
ReFirm Labs is backed by DataTribe, which contributed the funding in seed stage capital. DataTribe is a startup studio, also in Maple Lawn, specializing in co-building cybersecurity, analytics and big data product companies coming out of intelligence agencies and government research labs.
“Manufacturers often have little visibility or control over the firmware of third-party components that are integrated into their devices,” said ReFirm Labs CEO and Co-Founder Terry Dunlap, an NSA veteran. “ReFirm Labs’ Centrifuge Platform makes it possible to rapidly assess the security posture of a device at any point in the lifecycle chain, identifying backdoor accounts, hard-coded passwords and potential zero-day threats.”

JPB Capital Partners, Salis Holdings Acquire Ted’s Bulletin
JPB Capital Partners, a Columbia-based middle-market private equity investor, announced what was termed “a significant investment” in Ted’s Bulletin, a modern American diner. JPB partnered with Salis Holdings to acquire the company from Matchbox Food Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Ted’s Bulletin, with five locations across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, has been offering guests a classic American dining experience since 2010. Known for its neighborhood atmosphere and featuring an array of comfort foods, the restaurant was a 2011 RAMMY award winner for the best Neighborhood Gathering Place in the Washington metropolitan area.
This investment, through JPB Capital’s third fund, continues to expand its investment strategy in the food and beverage industry and is its third platform investment in the Washington, D.C./Maryland region, including ZIPS Drycleaners and South Moon Under.

Hogan Administration Announces Industry Forum for Traffic Relief
The Hogan Administration announced plans for an international industry forum to be held by the Maryland Department of Transportation on Dec. 13 at the BWI Airport Marriott about Maryland’s Traffic Relief Plan (TRP), unveiled in mid-September. Registration is required for the forum, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and is open to industry professionals.
“The transformational project will deliver congestion relief for the Baltimore-Washington region, which has been choked in traffic for years,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn. “Maryland is thrilled to engage the most innovative thinkers in private industry to help us deliver traffic relief for hundreds of thousands of drivers every day.”
The forum presentations will include an overview of the $7.6 billion public-private partnership plan to add four express lanes (two in each direction) to I-495 (Capital Beltway) and I-270 in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, as well as specifics concerning Maryland’s P3 (public-private partnership) laws and process. Those interested in attending the forum should visit www.MDTrafficReliefP3.com.

Rothstein Running for Carroll Commissioner in District 5
Ed Rothstein, former garrison commander of Fort Meade from 2011–14 and most recently head of ERA Advisory, has decided to run for county commissioner in Carroll County’s fifth district.
“Since enlisting in the Army in 1983, [the Rothstein family has] gone through many different slogans to represent our service; however, the latest one, ‘Soldiers for Life,’ resonates the most. Being a soldier for life, to me, means continuing to serve regardless if the uniform is still being worn or not,” said Rothstein. “From a specific experience, serving in Afghanistan from 2010–11, I take it one step further by saying that the family and soldiers serving receive their strength from the community that surrounds them.
“Running the installation through dedication and teamwork resulted in the estimated 55,000 that lived and/or worked on Fort Meade did so in a healthy, safe and secure environment. Bringing that focus and commitment to Carroll County, and more specifically to our friends and neighbors in District 5 (which includes Carroll County’s largest unincorporated area), just makes sense.”

New Rental Car Shuttle Buses Debut at BWI Marshall
The first of 20 new buses that provide transportation between the passenger terminal and the airport’s consolidated rental car facility have been put into service at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The 60-foot, articulated, compressed natural gas buses will provide around-the-clock service.
The new buses, which are manufactured by New Flyer of America, offer many customer service amenities, including Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, infotainment screens, plush seats, three sets of wide doors and large windows. The articulated buses provide about a 50% increase in capacity over the older rental car shuttle fleet, as well as the distinctive colors of the Maryland state flag.
In December 2016, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved the contract to procure the 20 buses. The $15 million purchase is funded through the Customer Facility Charge (CFC) fee on airport rental car transactions. The new buses replace a fleet of 40-foot, transit-style rental car shuttle buses that were manufactured in 2004. All buses will be delivered to the airport and put into service before the end of the year.

Online Platform for E-Commerce Distribution, Zentail, Expands From the MCE
Zentail, an e-commerce insights platform, has graduated from the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) into its own office space in Columbia, on Alexander Bell Drive.
Zentail aspires to raise a Series A investment in the next year, and service $1 billon in e-commerce in 2018. It has grown its workforce from eight to 11 employees during its time at the MCE and plans to meet heightened demand in its new location, which has “a floor plan of 4,000 square feet,” said CEO Daniel Sugarman.
The MCE is a 26,000-square-foot business incubator run by the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), in Columbia. It is home to 23 resident companies and provides a menu of client services for small businesses in the community.

USRA Supporting Arecibo Observatory After Hurricane Maria
The Columbia-based Universities Space Research Association (USRA), one of the entities that manages Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, has taken action to support observatory staff as they recover from Hurricane Maria. USRA donated from its corporate resources twenty 2000-watt portable generators to USRA staff who were in the greatest need for electricity at their homes. These generators were shipped from Columbia to Puerto Rico.
USRA also set up a “gofundme” site for donations to help all staff at the observatory. USRA collected approximately $40,000, and a committee was set up to evaluate applications and distribute the funds. It received 75 applications, and all employees who were in need, irrespective of their employers, applied for these funds.

HCGH Receives ‘A’ for Patient Safety in Leapfrog Safety Grade
Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) received an “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care ratings organization, which released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades. The Safety Grade assigns letter grades of A, B, C, D and F to hospitals nationwide based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms.
HCGH was one of 832 facilities in the U.S. and the only hospital in Maryland to be awarded an A for its commitment to keeping patients safe and meeting the highest safety standards.
Developed under the guidance of a Blue Ribbon National Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 27 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.

WOW to Expand Schedule
From BWI Marshall
WOW air will expand its schedule from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport during summer 2018. During that peak season, WOW will offer twice-daily service on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, between May 18 and Sept. 16. As part of the announcement, the airline is offering special, limited fares for BWI Marshall travelers.
Once daily service will continue on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. WOW operates service between BWI Marshall and Reykjavik, Iceland, with connections available to several markets across Europe. The airline currently operates daily service from BWI Marshall.

MediaPost Names Merkle Search Agency of the Year
Columbia-based Merkle has been named the 2017 Search Agency of the Year by the editorial board of MediaPost. The accolade adds to recent citations for the search marketing and addressable media company. In October 2017, Merkle was named a Leader in The Forrester Wave: Search Marketing Agencies, Q4 2017, which evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the top 12 search marketing agency vendors across 25 criteria. Merkle received the highest possible scores in market research, media, collaboration and revenue. For paid search and overall strategy, Merkle scored in the highest range overall.
In addition to these honors, Merkle was named Best Large SEO agency by the U.S. Search Awards and won an additional two awards at that event: Best Use of Search, Finance, for MetLife; and Best SEO Campaign, for ShoppersChoice.com. Finally, Merkle received a 2017 Search Engine Land “Landy” Award in October for the Best Enterprise SEM Initiative-Financial Services category for its work with MetLife.

$1M in Improvements Slated for North Arundel Aquatic Center
Anne Arundel County will invest more than $1 million to improve the North Arundel Aquatic Center, on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie. The improvements will include replacing the air exchange pool packs, renovating the existing water slide and other overhauls.
The center offers an eight-lane, 25-yard competition pool and a leisure pool. The leisure pool is a zero-depth entry pool with three 20-yard lap lanes and indoor water features. The water features include a 134-foot water slide, splashdown area, water buckets, preschool water slide, vortex area and poolside spa for adults.
This project was made possible through the JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project financing program. Enacted in 2015, the capital 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.

SECU Launches Own Your Money
To help consumers build their financial knowledge and more effectively manage their money, Linthicum-based SECU is launching Own Your Money, a free, interactive, financial education program. Easily accessible through a computer, tablet or mobile device, Own Your Money uses short, on-demand learning modules — including videos, animations and other interactive tools — to guide users through more than 20 critical personal finance topics.
Own Your Money is the latest in a series of programs offered by SECU to help its members better understand and manage their finances. Other programs include Retirement Central, Accel Financial Counseling and Homebuying 360; for more information about Own Your Money and SECU’s other personal finance programs, visit www.secumd.org.

HCGH to Move ER Entrance During Construction
As the hospital and its emergency room undergo renovation, Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) has temporarily moved the emergency entrance to the hospital’s main entrance. ER patients and visitors should enter the campus using the Cedar Lane entrance and park in designated lots adjacent to the hospital’s main entrance. Ambulances and helicopters will still use their existing entrance.
The temporary change is part of HCGH’s campus construction project, building a two-story addition to the hospital and renovating existing space. The addition and renovation will meet growing community needs for emergency care, general medical and surgical care and behavioral health services. For more information and to view a video guide of the entrance relocation, visit hcghoftomorrow.org.

Joint Venture Buys Columbia North Portfolio
A joint venture partnership between Feldman Bergin Development and Fortified Property Group has acquired a three-building portfolio in the Columbia North submarket. Located at 8970, 8980 and 8990 Route 108, the assets compose approximately 85,000 square feet of single-story, flex/office space, of which 74% is currently leased to multiple tenants.
All three buildings are located in Oakland Ridge Center, located directly off Route 108 at Red Branch Road. 8970 Route 108 is best suited to support the commercial office requirements of end-users, while 8980 and 8990 Route 108 offer 16-foot ceiling heights, as well as loading dock amenities.

Alex. Brown to Open Annapolis Office
A year after becoming a division of Raymond James, Alex. Brown is re-establishing an office in Annapolis, 20 years after Deutsche Bank closed the original location.
The office, located on Somerville Road, will be a new addition to the Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, a mixed-use development. In 2016, Raymond James acquired Deutsche Bank’s U.S. Wealth Services division and relaunched the Alex. Brown brand.

Ribbon Cut on Howard County’s First TOD
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Residences at Annapolis Junction on Nov. 27 marked the delivery of Howard County’s first Transit Oriented Development project. Contained within the Annapolis Junction Town Center and developed by St. John Properties, The Residences is an ultra-luxury, five-story, 416-unit apartment community managed by Armada Hoffler Properties real estate investment trust.
Earlier this summer, residents initiated occupancy on The Residences, which is composed of 123 two-bedroom units, 248 one-bedroom units and 45 studio units ranging from 520 square feet to 1,629 square feet of living space.
Amenities include a saltwater swimming pool with sunning decks; cabanas; multiple grills and fountains; and a 700-vehicle garage. It also features a 3,200-square-foot, two-story community room, state-of-the-art fitness center with locker rooms, a media center, kitchen, bar, billiards room and business center, among other amenities.

Anne Arundel Honored for Drinking Water Utilities Management Excellence
The Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works’ (DPW) Bureau of Utility Operations (BUO) is one of only 14 public drinking water systems in the United States to be awarded a top utility management award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA).  The 2017 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence recognizes the county’s 10-year capital improvement program to end reliance on the City of Baltimore for 25% of the county’s drinking water supply.
Coordinated efforts of the Bureau of Utilities and Bureau of Engineering enabled the county to complete vital capital projects within the strategic plan providing the infrastructure needed to produce enough water to serve areas of the county previously served by the City of Baltimore. These capital projects were completed in September and enabled the county to become an independent and self-sufficient water system, and have saved the county $8.5 million during the last 10 years; resulting in an annual savings of $1.5 million.

ICC Emerges as Second Busiest Toll Facility in Maryland
The Inter-County Connector (ICC/Maryland Route 200) Corridor emerged as the second busiest toll facility in Maryland during 2016, with motorists racking up a combined total of 30 million trips on the all-electronic tollway.
Motorists are expected to take 32.5 million trips cumulatively at entry points and exits points along the ICC during 2017, its sixth year of operation. For perspective, the number of trips on the ICC is five times the population of Maryland. Historical traffic trends reveal vehicular traffic more than doubled on key ICC segments from 2012 to 2016. The ICC’s traffic spiked 24.3%, and its toll revenue increased 6% in 2016, as many drivers have reduced travel on the east-west route.
“The first leg of the [ICC] debuted to the motoring public in 2011. Now, it is outpacing the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Bay Bridge, the Nice Bridge [in Southern Maryland] and I-95 Express Toll Lanes near Baltimore in traffic volume. It is only eclipsed by the Fort McHenry Tunnel. It is a remarkable feat for a roadway first planned in 1955, then derided, and finally built amid opposition,” said John Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic manager of public and government affairs.
Motorists took 29.98 million trips on the ICC in 2016, compared to the 24.12 million trips they undertook on the tollway in 2015, according to a May 2017 report. The number of trips on the ICC is expected to grow to 32.49 million in 2017, a projected 8.4% growth in trips.

Non Profit News & Charitable Giving

Howard County Announces Agreement to Buy Land for Ellicott City Elementary School
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman reached an agreement to buy a 12-acre site on Resort Road in Turf Valley for $5.75 million, pending County Council approval, which would enable the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to plan for an elementary school that will help relieve overcrowding at that level.
Kittleman said the purchase was fast-tracked to address concerns expressed by the school system and the community about overcrowding at a number of elementary schools across the county. With this acquisition, HCPSS will have an opportunity to make changes to its Capital Improvements Program. Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano requested the county’s help to purchase the property in May 2017.
“After speaking with Dr. Martirano, we have been in discussions with the property owner to make this purchase to help address the anticipated long-term student population growth in our elementary schools,” said Kittleman. “The redistricting process underscored the urgency to accelerate this purchase, and I am glad that we have been able to take this step now.”
Kittleman also has committed to accelerating the building of a 13th high school to relieve overcrowding and provide a long-term solution for high school capacity needs. The county will acquire the site from Mangione Family Enterprises, of Turf Valley, which is selling the property below appraised value because it also recognizes the need for a school in that area. The county will enter into a purchase and sales agreement following an updated appraisal.

DeCesaris Family Foundation Pledges Major Support to
FMA Campaign
Supporters of initiatives benefiting women, children, health care, the faith community and the military, the Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Family Foundation has pledged $150,000 to the Fort Meade Alliance Foundation’s (FMA) Ready, Strong and Connected campaign.
The philanthropic work of the DeCesaris family inspires “a real appreciation for the impact that one person, one family, can have,” said Deon Viergutz, president of the FMA Foundation. “It will have the ability to positively impact over 160,000 military service men and women, Department of Defense employees and their families who live and work on and around Fort Meade.”
The foundation is well-known for funding the construction and expansion of Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute, and for supporting the region’s only combined pediatric emergency and pediatric inpatient unit. The family’s pledge to the Ready, Strong and Connected campaign will help the FMA Foundation convert Kuhn Hall on Fort Meade into a Resiliency and Education Center. It will host a full range of resiliency services, as well as a variety of college-level courses.
The FMA foundation has raised 45% of the needed $3.6 million and has supported numerous other initiatives, including programs for wounded warriors.

Kittleman’s First Fiscal ’19 Citizens’ Budget Hearing Set for Dec. 11
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will hold his first Citizens’ Budget Hearing for the fiscal 2019 budget cycle on Monday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.
Residents may sign up online to speak at the hearing by going to www.howardcountymd.gov/budgettestimony. From the same link, residents also have the option to provide online budget testimony; however, residents are reminded that Internet testimony is considered public information and, as such, is subject to the Maryland Public Information Act.
Residents who do not wish to sign up online still will be able to do so in person on the night of the public hearing beginning at 6 p.m. Speakers must sign up individually; one person may not sign up for several testifiers. For more accommodations to attend the hearing or for more information, call the Budget Office at 410-313-2077.

Baltimore Shuckers to Play
in Anne Arundel United Charity Basketball Game
The Baltimore Shuckers of the Central Basketball Association (CBA) announced they will play a charity game against Anne Arundel County employees on Dec. 16, at 2 p.m., at Annapolis Senior High School. The goals of the game are to raise awareness for the Anne Arundel United initiative and collect food and clothing donations for the Anne Arundel County Food Bank.
The event will be free to the public. Fans will be treated to Shuckers basketball, as well as contests and prizes from many local vendors, including the Shuckers presenting sponsor, Buffalo Wild Wings. The first 250 fans will receive a free autograph card, and Shuckers players will be available after the game, on-court, for autograph signing.
For admission, bring donations of new or gently used coat(s)/sweatshirt(s); cans of non-perishable food; or new hats, gloves or mittens. Anne Arundel United is a community outreach campaign, announced by County Executive Steve Schuh on Sept. 12, to engage every citizen and community in the fight against hatred through a community ambassador program and a social media campaign. For more information, visit www.aacounty.org/departments/county-executive/county-initiatives/aa-united.

Anne Arundel County Receives $738,000 to Combat Gangs and
Youth Violence
Anne Arundel County has been awarded a three-year Safe & Thriving Communities Grant of $738,000 by the U.S. Department of Justice to help combat gang and youth violence. The grant will help fund efforts to address growing youth gang violence in the City of Annapolis through public/private partnerships between Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis, programs like Anne Arundel United and local nonprofits.
Officials will begin the effort by creating a strategic plan for communication, outreach and programming in partnership with youth, residents and other community partners such as the Community Action Agency. The county will then implement a variety of research evidence-based programs aimed at reducing and eliminating youth and gang violence in the city of Annapolis.
For more information, visit www.aacounty.org/departments/county-executive/county-initiatives/aa-united.

HCC 5K Challenge Race Raises $85K for Student Scholarships
More than 400 participants ran, climbed and crawled an obstacle-filled course during Howard Community College’s (HCC) fourth annual 5K Challenge Race, held at HCC on Sunday, Oct. 29. Thanks to teams from 50 sponsoring organizations, in addition to college employees, students and alumni teams, the HCC Educational Foundation raised more than $85,000 to support student scholarships.
The overall Corporate Challenge Champion goes to Harkins Builders. Sponsoring organizations also competed for one of seven challenges, with winners as follows: Howard County Police (Challenge Award); Morgan-Keller Construction (Design & Construction Challenge); M&T Bank (Finance Challenge); In-Depth Engineering (Information Technology Challenge); Howard Hughes Corp. (Real Estate Challenge); Howard County General Hospital (Wellness Challenge); and LifeSpan Network — Beacon Institute (Silver Challenge). Rouse Scholars won the HCC alumni, Faculty/Staff category, and X-Ray claimed the HCC Student Team award.
Winners of the fastest course time were Stewart Reich (male, 14:59.9) and his wife, Stephanie Reich (17:47.3), both of Morgan-Keller Construction.

HCAC General Exhibit Grants
Due Jan. 1
Artists wishing to be considered for an exhibit in the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) galleries have been invited to submit a general exhibit application. The HCAC Exhibits Committee meets quarterly to review applications and select artists for the exhibit space. Artists working in all media and styles, including time-based and installation artists, are encouraged to apply either individually or as a group. The committee also welcomes proposals from curators and organizations.
HCAC presents 11-12 exhibits per year of national, regional — and local artists, including two-person, small and large group, juried, curated and community shows. Detailed entry guidelines are available at hocoarts.submittable.com/submit, for pick-up at the Howard County Center for the Arts, by mail by calling 410-313-2787 or at info@hocoarts.org. The next deadline for submissions is Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

HCAC Announces Emersons as Honorary Chairs of
Celebration of the Arts
The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) has announced that Sue and Buddy Emerson will serve as honorary chairs of the 21st Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County. The gala will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2018, from 6–10 p.m., at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College.
The Emersons will make opening remarks in the Smith Theatre during the 90-minute program, which will feature the Rising Star Performing Arts Competition. Buddy Emerson is senior vice president at M&T Bank and a former trustee of the Columbia Festival of the Arts; Sue Emerson is director of communications at Leadership Howard County and has volunteered for the HCAC and organized many community-based arts events. Tickets are $100 (Reception and Smith Theatre) and $50 (Reception and Studio Theatre). For more information, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit hocoarts.org.

CAC Announces New
Theater-in-Residence Program
The Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC) has announced a new Theater-in-Residence program, the AngelWing Project. The endeavor is a 501(c)3 nonprofit performing arts organization in Glen Burnie that promotes the development of the performing arts in the community, with the mission of positively impacting the community by providing uplifting, entertaining shows and events to inspire appreciation for, and participation in, the arts.
The project will hold several performances a year, as well as training workshops and community forums. The group also will participate in joint efforts and support other artists and events at the center. For more information about the program, contact Nicole Caracia at ncaracia@chesapeakearts.org.

Stewards of Children Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Available
HopeWorks is expanding to include the work and services of Shari’s Promise, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which has worked for five years in Howard County with a mission to end child sexual abuse. This work will now be continued as a program within HopeWorks.
One of the ways HopeWorks will keep the mission of Shari’s Promise alive is through its new child sexual abuse prevention training, Stewards of Children, produced by the national nonprofit Darkness to Light. This is an evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention, recognition and intervention training which has been shown to change child-protective behaviors. For more information, call Vanita Leatherwood at 410-997-0304.

Schaefer Helping People Award Recipient Announced
Colleen Konstanzer, Neighbor Ride’s first executive director, has been selected to receive the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award. Comptroller Peter Franchot will present the award to Konstanzer during a brief ceremony in Neighbor Ride’s office at 5570 Sterrett Place, Columbia, at 11 a.m., on Monday, Dec. 11. A reception will follow the presentation. Members of the public are invited to attend.
The award is presented by the comptroller to the individuals and organizations in each county and Baltimore City that best exemplify William Donald Schaefer’s lifelong commitment to helping people. Winners are selected based on their demonstration of improving the community, swiftly solving a citizen problem through effective government intervention, directly aiding the most vulnerable in society or creating a public/private partnership to improve the lives of Marylanders.

Howard’s Roving Radish Program Wins MACo Innovation Award
The Roving Radish, Howard County’s healthy meals program, has been selected for the County Innovation Award by the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance, a collaboration of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo). The award was slated to be presented at MACo’s annual winter conference in Cambridge on Dec. 7.
The Roving Radish was chosen for its innovative approach to bringing affordable, locally-produced foods to residents, including those with limited incomes who can purchase meal kits at a reduced price. This year, the Roving Radish distributed 6,250 kits — a 25% increase from last year — through 10 stops located throughout the county. Nearly a third of the kits went to residents who qualified for the subsidized rate.
The Roving Radish will be on break during winter months and resume service in May 2018. For more information, visit www.rovingradish.com.

Lifeline 100 Bicycle Event Awards $33K to Anne Arundel Nonprofits
The fourth annual Anne Arundel County Lifeline 100 Bicycle Event attracted a record 861 registrants supported by more than 100 volunteers and more than 25 sponsors. The event, hosted by Anne Arundel County Police, Recreation & Parks and Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, offers a great experience for cyclists of all ages and abilities with 100-, 65-, 30- and 15-mile route options, as well as a free Children’s Bike Rodeo and Family Fun Ride and Community Health Fair at Kinder Farm Park, in Millersville.
All net proceeds are donated to county nonprofit organizations. This year’s record proceeds of $33,000 is up from $21,000 in 2016, thanks to a 20% increase in participants and a big jump in sponsorships; they included $10,000 from Prophasys and $2,500 from Maryland Live. The following awards were made on Nov. 16, at the BikeAAA Annual Meeting at the Pirate’s Cove Restaurant (a four-year rest stop sponsor), in Galesville.
• Anne Arundel Crisis Response System: $11,000
• Recreation Deeds for Special Needs: $9,000
• Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails: $1,000
• Friends of Kinder Farm Park: $1,000
• Rise for Autism iCan! Shine Bike Camp: $2,500
• Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County: $8,500
The iCan! Shine Bike Camp, hosted each summer by Rise for Autism, teaches children with special needs to ride a two-wheel bike during five days. Learn more at www.riseforautism.org/ican–bike-camp-2017.

The check presentation was made by the Lifeline 100 Century Ride Team to the Anne Arundel County Crisis Response System team. They are, from left, Carolyn Ryan, Colleen Joseph, Cpl. Stanley Newborn, Cpl. Dominic Scali, Adrienne Mickler, Catherine Gray, Lt. Steve Thompson, Jon Korin and Alex Pline.

Howard County Commission for Women Seeks Nominations for
Hall of Fame
Howard County’s Commission for Women is seeking nominations for outstanding women to be inducted into the 2018 Women’s Hall of Fame (WHOF). This annual event honors Howard County women who have made significant contributions to the lives of others in Howard County, Maryland or the nation through their leadership, and professional and/or community service. The nomination deadline is Friday, Dec. 22, at 5 p.m.
To be eligible for the Howard County WHOF, nominees may be either living or deceased and must have lived in Howard County for at least 10 years. Up to five women will be selected for induction at the commission’s annual Women’s Hall of Fame Ceremony in March 2018, held during National Women’s History Month.
To obtain a copy of the WHOF nomination form, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/cfw, call 410-313-6400 or email women@howardcountymd.gov.

HCLS HiJinx Podcast Wins Gold MarCom Award
HiJinx, Howard County Library System’s (HCLS’s) monthly podcast, is the winner of a 2017 MarCom Gold Award. The podcast educates listeners about topics relative to upcoming HCLS events through their conversations with guests, while the hosts explore various facets of an overarching theme each month.
HiJinx is written, co-hosted and produced by HCLS staff members Victoria Goodman and Dennis Wood. Guests have included famed recording artist Judy Collins, author David Ebershoff, renowned chef Carla Hall and travel writer Pauline Frommer.

TFCU Sponsors Millionaire’s Club at Northeast High
Students at Northeast High School recently gathered for the first meeting of the Millionaires Club with faculty member and adviser Barbara Ashman and members of the Tower Federal Credit Union (TFCU) staff, to begin developing their finance skills, entering competitions with other schools, engaging in investment simulations and performing an annual entrepreneurial project.
Millionaire’s Club members learn skills relating to budgeting, selecting financial services, protecting assets and identities, responsible borrowing, career choice and putting savings to work through wise investment choices. The six-month program was developed by the Credit Union Foundation MD|DC and is available to schools and credit unions nationwide at no charge through the foundation’s MillionairesClub.org site.
Currently, more than 1,900 students benefit annually from participation at 44 sites. For more information, visit MillionairesClub.org.
The new Millionaire’s Club at Northeast High School, in Pasadena, recently held its kickoff meeting. The club is sponsored by Tower Federal Credit Union. Here, TFCU’s Gail Sanders, far left; and Mark Cruz, far right; provided the students and teacher/adviser Barbara Ashman with the tools they need to succeed.

JumpStart Expands Early College Credit Options for HCPSS Students
Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has announced a program that enables students to earn up to 60 college credits while in high school. Offered in partnership with Howard Community College (HCC), JumpStart is designed to give students a head start in earning a college degree or preparing for a career, at a greatly reduced cost.
The pilot expansion of dual enrollment options will also alleviate overcrowding at the county’s three most overcrowded high schools. Beginning in the 2018–19 school year, expanded JumpStart programs will be introduced at Oakland Mills and River Hill high schools, where enrollment is currently under school capacity; enrollment also will be opened to students at Centennial, Howard and Long Reach high schools, which currently exceed target capacity levels.
HCPSS can accommodate up to 500 Centennial, Howard and Long Reach students who choose to change schools in order to take advantage of JumpStart programs at Oakland Mills and River Hill next year. JumpStart provides several structured options.
• Early college 30-credit programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), cybersecurity, computer science, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, general studies, secondary teaching, public health and health sciences are offered at Oakland Mills and River Hill high schools and the Applications and Research Laboratory. Students who enroll by Grade 10 may earn up to 30 college credits (or the equivalent of a full year of college).
• Early college 60-credit programs: Eligible students enrolling as ninth graders at Oakland Mills and River Hill high schools may graduate with up to 60 college credits and an Associate of Arts degree in general studies from HCC.
Details about all JumpStart programs are available online at www.hcpss.org/jumpstart.

Columbia Birthday
Observances Continue
The Baltimore Chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) recognized Columbia’s 50th birthday with a special program, “Columbia at 50: Learning from the past and celebrating future development,” held in the newly opened Two Merriweather, overlooking redevelopment underway in Downtown.
Speakers included three pioneers of Columbia development: Gary Clark, Lehr Jackson and Robert Tennenbaum, who recounted colorful tales of the early years. In addition, Howard County Economic Development Director Larry Twele, Lynn Coleman of Howard Community College (HCC), Earl Armiger of Orchard Development and Greg Fitchitt of The Howard Hughes Corp., discussed the latest development activities including the recruitment of cybersecurity firms, the growth of HCC, the redevelopment of the village centers and the creation of a more urban center for Downtown Columbia.

Among the presenters at the Baltimore Chapter of the Urban Land Institute’s recognition of Columbia 50th birthday were, from left, Earl Armiger of Orchard Development and Greg Fitchitt of The Howard Hughes Corp.

The Meeting Gallery Presents
New Exhibit
The Meeting House Gallery presents “Friends,” work by Gale Bell, Donna Golden, Pam Gordimer, Debra Halprin and Julie Smith. These works include sculpture, oil, acrylic, giclee prints, watercolor and mixed media collage. The exhibit will run until Jan. 27, 2018.

The Meeting House 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 to the gallery is free.

‘Why Bob Dylan Matters’ Author Thomas to Headline 2018 RETRO ‘Evening in the Stacks’
Howard County Library System (HCLS) turns back the clock for a RETRO Evening in the Stacks on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 7 to 11 p.m., that will set the perfect stage for Harvard Classics Professor Richard Thomas, celebrated author of the newly released book, “Why Bob Dylan Matters.”
Cited by The New York Times as having “the coolest class on campus,” Thomas’s Dylan seminar is introducing a new generation of fans and scholars to the artist’s work.
Thomas was initially ridiculed by his colleagues for teaching a course on Dylan alongside his traditional seminars on Homer, Virgil and Ovid. Dylan’s Nobel Prize brought him vindication, and he immediately found himself thrust into the spotlight as a leading academic voice in all matters pertaining to Dylan.
Thomas will offer his argument for Dylan’s modern relevance, while interpreting and decoding Dylan’s lyrics for readers, and asking them to reflect on the question, “What makes a classic?” The 2018 Retro Evening in the Stacks will be held at the newly renovated HCLS East Columbia Branch, located at 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. Tickets go on sale in January at hclibrary.org/Stacks.

Full STEAM Ahead Embraces Diversity, Inclusion

 

Full STEAM Ahead is a movement that is gaining widespread attention. That’s happening not only for its catchy title, but for its broad appeal and popularization of various STEAM programs and initiatives that embrace diversity and inclusion across America and beyond.

As an acronym for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmatics)plus the arts, STEAM is an educational movement, begun a few years ago, that engages students from preschool through college and beyond as an integrated learning approach, officially recognized nationally as part of Common Core Standards along with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The standards, implemented on the national and state levels, are an essential component to any high-quality STEAM program.

Adding the ‘A’

It began as a movement, championed by the Rhode Island School of Design, to place Art + Design at the center of STEM, and was widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals. It is about inspiring students to “think creatively outside the box” to solve programs, using the tools provided to them.

Whereas STEM education was (and is) regarded as a huge innovation in integrated learning theory and practice in the 20th century, STEAM is the next generation Science Standards, Language Arts and Literacy, aligned with the Visual and Performing Arts Standards in preparing students to effectively face the challenges in the 21st century.

It seeks to add humanity to STEM, acknowledging that it is OK to not always be perfect — to learn by exploration and experimentation.

Students are encouraged to ask questions, to be collaborative and innovative through Core Standards. They are taught to apply concepts by designing “hands-on” projects to demonstrate their understanding of science, technology, engineering, math, language arts, literacy and art, with emphasis placed on the wonder of art and science in human endeavors. By their very nature, both STEM and STEAM programs provide and embrace diversity and inclusion.
Arts + Diversity

To look at the topic of Full STEAM Ahead in a broader context, STEAM Magazine, of Irvine, Calif., is one of six nationally recognized diversity-focused magazines published by DiversityComm.Inc. during its 25-year history. It contends that one of the best ways to create value in the 21st century is to combine science and technology with arts, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine brings STEM programs and educational, business and employment opportunities to all minorities and diverse cultures, starting with K–12. It is the company’s firm belief that, to have a successful company, diversity and inclusion must be implemented in all departments. It maintains that STEM and the arts are critical for our future and innovation.

On an annual basis, as in 2017, STEAM Magazine polled hundreds of schools in their efforts to promote diversity in all aspects of STEAM to ensure equal opportunity. It cited the following list of Top STEM-Friendly Programs, in alphabetical order, which include (amongst many others around the U.S.): Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth University, Drexel University, Duke University, Harvard University, The Johns Hopkins University and Yale University.

Full STEAM Ahead is a part of Code VA’s initiative to “integrate Computer Science in Virginian classrooms. Our mission is to empower and enrich young women in their pursuit of STEAM. … We envision a world where girls have the confidence, resources and support they need to blast Full STEAM Ahead.”

Learning to Learn

Studies have shown that students engaged in a meaningful arts education benefit with higher SAT scores in reading, language and math, as well as stronger abilities in analytical thinking, reasoning and social competencies, which dovetail into a higher motivation to learn. Through the inclusion of the arts, students build the toolboxes they need to be the innovators of tomorrow.
In Howard County, Thunder Hill Elementary School sponsors a STEAM Day each spring that not only showcases the school’s Related Arts programs, but also brings in speakers and presenters from various walks of life, including parents and representatives from organizations, businesses and institutions that recognize, share, advocate and promote STEAM programs.

 

Dr. Joan Spicknall is director of The Suzuki Music School of Maryland, in Columbia. She can be reached at 410-964-1983 and at director@suzukimusicschool.com.

Letter From the Publisher

’Tis the Season of Peace and Goodwill

Every year at this time, you get to read about how much I love this season. I felt this year should be no different. On the day after Thanksgiving, we begin putting up our decorations, and we hope that by the end of the weekend, we are beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The week after, I’m hard at work getting the December issue out — and as soon as it goes to the printer on Friday, I begin making cookies for the cookie exchange in which I have participated for the past 35 years. This year, the number of cookies we are to bring is 18 dozen.

After making 112 dozen Christmas cookies for my son’s wedding a few years ago, I’ll whip those out in no time, with help from my sister who is visiting from Colorado.

Then there is the cookie exchange party on Sunday; the following Saturday, we will have nine children over to make gingerbread houses at my house; the next day is one of my son’s office parties at our house; two days later is my Rotary club’s holiday party at our house; and three days after that is our office party at our general manager, Cathy Yost’s, house.
Of course, there also are other events: chamber parties, the Symphony of Lights, the lighting of the Bollman Bridge, getting together on Christmas Eve with family and friends, and having family over on Christmas Day.

I don’t have to participate in or host everything, but I choose to, because I enjoy it. I love being around my family and friends and the laughter that always accompanies those occasions. I especially enjoy having the many children involved because, for me, they truly do make the season bright.

I know that many people find this too crazy and prefer a quieter approach to the holidays.  And, thank goodness, they may well be the ones creating the peaceful environment for those like me. But either way, what I most like about Christmas and the holiday season is that, for the most part, there seems to be a gentler, kinder atmosphere — sometimes minus the shopping crowd, of course.

Yes, I have been called Pollyanna on occasion, and yes, I do believe in Santa Claus. I guess that explains it all.

Words From Andy Rooney

I recently came across this list about life’s lessons given by CBS-TV’s Andy Rooney, of “60 Minutes” fame. I thought these were appropriate for the season.

I’ve learned … That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned … That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned … That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve learned … That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned … That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned … That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned … That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.

I’ve learned … That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned … That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I’ve learned … That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned … That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned … That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I’ve learned … That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I’ve learned … That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned … That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned … That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned … That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I’ve learned … That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I’ve learned … That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

I’ve learned … That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I’ve learned … That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I’ve learned … That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I’ve learned … That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I’ve learned … That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned … That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned … That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

 

Happy Holidays

Cathy, I and all of us at The Business Monthly find it an honor and a pleasure to work and know so many of you in our community. We appreciate your support and are happy to be told you find the paper an important resource.
But most of all, we wish you, your family and friends the best for the holidays and a happy and prosperous 2018.