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CA Teams With Howard County on New Market Analysis

Columbia Association (CA), with the Howard County Economic Development Authority and the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, has published the Columbia Market Analysis and Economic Development Services Study. The project is officially complete after a year-long study and public process.

In keeping with CA’s sustainability practices, only a limited number of reports are being printed. The full 134-page report can be viewed at ColumbiaAssociation.org/marketstudy.

The study, conducted by expert consultants, identifies current market conditions and future potential opportunities for Columbia’s village centers and examines the relationship of the centers with other areas in Columbia. The report includes recommended overall strategies that can help to strengthen, revitalize or reposition Columbia’s village centers and includes specific recommendations for each village center except for Wilde Lake, which is already undergoing redevelopment.

It also addresses the former GE Appliance site and portions of the Dobbin Road and Snowden River Parkway areas, providing valuable information about development and redevelopment potential for these areas that can be used in future Howard County planning and policy-making. The report includes supplemental appendices that provide extensive data analysis and documentation of the market conditions.

The study is part of a continued focus on the village centers. In 2009, the Howard County Council approved amendments to the New Town zoning regulations related to the redevelopment of Columbia’s village centers. During the recent update of Howard County’s General Plan (PlanHoward 2030), CA worked with the county to include a recommendation in the plan for a village center market study.

Morgenthaler Private Equity Acquires Bowles Fluidics Corp.

Morgenthaler Private Equity (MPE) has acquired Bowles Fluidics Corp., a Columbia-based designer and manufacturer that provides custom, highly engineered fluidic nozzles and hose assemblies to the automotive, consumer and industrial markets.

MPE, which has offices in Boston, Mass., and Cleveland, Ohio, will partner in the transaction with the Bowles management team, led by CEO Eric Koehler and COO Sri Sridhara. Peter Taft, partner at MPE, said, “On behalf of Karen Tuleta, Matt Yohe and Michael Duffy from the MPE deal team, we are excited to be partnering with Eric, Sri and the rest of the very talented Bowles organization. Since its founding in 1961, Bowles has built an excellent reputation due to its engineering expertise, customer service and product innovation. We look forward to supporting the management team as they execute the company’s multi-faceted growth plan.”

Koehler said, “MPE’s experience with highly engineered component manufacturers, as well as their unique combination of strategic, financial and operating perspective, make them an ideal partner for Bowles. This partnership will allow Bowles to accelerate our growth initiatives and reinforce our deep commitment to provide our customers with the highest levels of product quality, innovation and service.” Madison Capital Funding LLC provided senior debt financing. Hancock Capital Management LLC and Hartford Investment Management Company provided subordinated debt financing. BakerHostetler advised MPE on the transaction. SC&H Capital and Venable LLP served as financial and legal advisers, respectively, to Bowles.

Maryland Live! Tops in November With Revenues Exceeding $53.7M

Maryland Live! Casino again led the Maryland gaming market in November 2014 with revenues exceeding its 2013 November results, showing year over year growth despite the recent opening of the Baltimore Horseshow Casino.

The casino’s revenues totaled $53,779,355 — outperforming its closest regional competitor by more than double — with table games generating $21,322,438 and slots generating $32,456,916.

One of the largest commercial casinos in the country, Maryland Live! has ranked as the top performing casino in the entire mid-Atlantic gaming market for more than a year, outperforming the leading properties in Atlantic City, West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

“We’re very pleased with the revenue results, which continue to exceed the state’s projections in spite of new competition in the market and outperform all competitors in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Joe Weinberg, president, The Cordish Companies. “We look forward to leveraging our success in Philadelphia as we move forward with development plans for the new Live! Hotel & Casino project.”

BWI Marshall Rated Healthiest U.S. Airport

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport was rated the best U.S. airport for healthful meal options by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The PCRM’s 2014 Airport Food Review found that 92% of BWI Marshall restaurants serve at least one nutritious option for travelers.

BWI Marshall also was highlighted as the most improved airport this year, tied with Newark Liberty International Airport. Last year, BWI Marshall was tied for fourth place.

The PCRM review specifically highlighted several restaurants at BWI Marshall. Nutritious menu items in the airport’s concessions program are part of an ongoing commitment to offer healthy lifestyle choices for passengers and employees.

This year, BWI Marshall introduced a pilot bike share program for passengers, airport employees and local residents. In 2013, it worked with the American Heart Association to introduce the BWI Cardio Trail, two marked walking paths inside the airport terminal. The paths provide travelers with a new option for exercise while waiting for flights. BWI Marshall also offers a 12.5-mile scenic outdoor trail that encircles the airport property and serves a recreational resource for travelers, visitors and local residents. BWI Marshall was the first major U.S. airport to offer a dedicated hiker/biker trail.

BGE to Assess Fees for Customers Who Have Not Upgraded Meters

BGE can consider customers who have not responded to multiple requests to install a smart meter as opting out of the meter upgrade, based on the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) order. After 15 attempts at contact, BGE automatically will enroll these customers into the smart meter opt-out program and assess the related fees.

The latest PSC order on smart meters follows an order from February 2014 that stated that Maryland customers who do not want a smart meter can have a standard meter at an initial cost of $75, billed in three installments of $25, and an additional monthly fee of $11. BGE will provide 30-day notice to customers who have not responded to installation attempts before assessing the opt-out fees.

Opt-out fees are to cover utilities’ costs of providing service to customers who do not want a smart meter, including the additional costs to maintain systems, including meter readers and equipment, special data processing and other services.

“Smart meters are already providing benefits to most of our customers, and we would like all our customers to have the opportunity to use the energy and money-saving tools that come with these meters,” said Andrew Dodge, vice president of technical services for BGE. “For customers who do not want a smart meter, we can now confirm this information so we can complete our system upgrade. We urge those customers who want a smart meter to call us as soon as possible to avoid the opt-out fees.”

Customers who do not yet have a smart meter should call BGE at 855-470-8800 to schedule an appointment. For more information on smart meters, including details on savings programs, opt-out fees and common customer questions, visit bge.com/smartenergy.

CA Partners With Two Companies on New Energy Project

Columbia Association (CA) has taken a significant stride in using clean energy and reducing its carbon footprint by partnering with BITHENERGY and SunEdison on a cutting-edge project.

Each year for the next 20 years, CA will be purchasing 2,500 megawatt-hours of solar electricity generated from approximately 2 megawatts of a new 10-megawatt solar farm being built off Route 32 near Interstate 70, in western Howard County. This 2-megawatt portion of the farm is a total of 12 acres, equivalent to nine football fields of solar panels.

The energy produced will provide enough clean, renewable power to meet the needs of two of CA’s fitness facilities — Columbia Athletic Club and Columbia Gym — the equivalent of nearly 25% of CA’s total electricity consumption each year. The project also will eliminate about 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions associated with CA’s operations.

“We are delighted that the Columbia Association will benefit from the clean, renewable energy that will be generated from our 10-megawatt solar power plant that is being built in Howard County,” said Robert Wallace, president and CEO of BITHENERGY. “Our engineering staff has worked diligently over the last few years to make the Nixon Solar Farm a model solar energy project that simplifies the process by which governments, nonprofits and commercial businesses seamlessly benefit from robust renewable energy options. Once completed, the Nixon Solar Farm will be the largest solar power plant in Howard County and one of the largest in the state of Maryland.”

A video about CA’s solar farm project can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=adbAYx58shg.

Howard Exec Kittleman Acts to Meet Budget Challenge

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has directed county department heads to prepare budget reductions to trim spending by 5% for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.

Kittleman is responding to revenue estimates showing an unexpected deficit of $14 million for the remainder of fiscal 2015. The projected shortfall is equal to 1.42% of the county’s annual operating budget. Lower than anticipated revenues from income taxes and recordation taxes from home sales are causing the shortfall.

“When fiscal difficulties occur, we all have to pitch in,” Kittleman said. “Balanced budget laws require us to trim our costs and we will do that in a thoughtful, responsible way.”

Kittleman instructed department heads to delay filling vacant positions, except for critical positions, including public safety. Cost-of-living increases mandated and funded in the current budget will not be affected by the shortfall, he said. Numerous cost-cutting strategies are being considered, including possible transfers from pay-go funding for long-term projects.

AACC Selected for National Grant to Train Low-Income Adults

Anne Arundel Community College recently celebrated 100 students’ completion of training that makes them eligible to work as casino dealers through a grant from the Walmart Brighter Futures 2.0 Project.

AACC is one of 12 community colleges in the nation selected to participate in the $3.5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to the League for Innovation in the Community College. This grant funding allows AACC to provide middle-income job training and services to eligible students.

Students can earn a continuing education certificate of completion in blackjack, mini baccarat and carnival games. Some of the students who just completed the program already are employed.

In addition to specific job training, individuals receive career counseling in searching for jobs, résumé writing and interviewing techniques to help them communicate their skills effectively to potential employers. For information about casino dealer training through the Walmart Brighter Futures Project, visit www.aacc.edu/hcat/dealerschool/walmart.cfm.