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Wood Partners Break Ground at Columbia Mixed-Use Development

Wood Partners is set to break ground at Alta Wilde Lake, an approximately $45 million, 230-unit multifamily community on 2.79 acres in downtown Columbia, that will be a key component of the redevelopment at Wilde Lake Village Center. Apartments will be available for lease in summer 2016.

Alta Wilde Lake, a mixed-use community, will provide much-needed housing in a currently underserved, affluent area. Columbia was the top-performing submarket in suburban Maryland in 2013, with rents increasing 4% during a time when many submarkets experienced no rent growth, according to Delta Associates’ Class A Apartment Market Report.

“With few projects slated for delivery in this market over the next 36 months, we anticipate that occupancy will tighten and rents will likely continue to increase in 2015,” said Scott Zimmerly, director of the mid-Atlantic region for Wood Partners.

Located at 5420 Lynx Lane, less than a half-mile from The Mall in Columbia, Alta Wilde Lake will include two five-story apartment buildings connected by a three-level sky bridge over Lynx Lane.

Alta Wilde Lake will include approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and is located within the newly redeveloped Wilde Lake Village Center, which contains approximately 60,000 square feet of retail and 30,000 square feet of office space.

COLA Convenes Online Community to Advocate for Lab Quality

Columbia-based COLA, a laboratory accreditor, has launched www.labtestingmatters.org, a community for laboratorians, allied health professionals and patients to exchange ideas and experiences demonstrating the importance of quality laboratory medicine.

COLA launched the new online community to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, an annual observance designed to educate health care professionals, the public and others about the role of the laboratory professional in patient care. This year’s celebration ran through April 25.

“Seventy percent of diagnostic decisions affecting patients are the result of work done in laboratories, making laboratory medicine critical to quality patient care,” said COLA CEO Doug Beigel. “With seismic changes, such as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, transforming the face of lab medicine, Labtestingmatters.org can provide a valuable exchange of ideas among all ‘stakeholders’ for how the industry can best face tomorrow’s challenges. In so doing, we can bring laboratory medicine out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight.”

The site will include trending health care news and information, as well as regular contributions from physicians, laboratorians and patients on a variety of topics related to laboratory quality. The online community also encourages lab professionals, doctors, consumer patients and others to share personal stories about how lab results have helped doctors make critical diagnoses, how patient outcomes have been affected by lab results and how lab teams are committed to patient safety and quality, among other topics.

Cync Program Announces Fifth Grad, Adds Another Cyber Startup

Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC) and the bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator have announced that continuous monitoring solutions provider DB Networks will be the fifth cyber startup to graduate from the Cync Incubator Program.

DB Networks is innovating cybersecurity through intelligent continuous monitoring. Customers include the world’s largest financial institutions, health care providers, manufacturers and governments. Since joining Cync, the company launched IDS-6300, an intelligent continuous monitoring product that analyzes core networks.

In addition, OptioLabs, of Baltimore, joins Cync as its newest cyber startup. OptioLabs develops security products for the mobile enterprise and embedded systems. The company has pioneered advanced security solutions for the world’s leading mobile platforms. With headquarters in Baltimore, and an office in Nashville, Tenn., OptioLabs customers include federal agencies, commercial enterprises and device manufacturers.

Cync graduates include KoolSpan, AccelerEyes (ArrayFire), Five Directions and Oculis Labs; current occupants include iWebGate, Perth, Australia; Light Point Security, Baltimore; and Ayasdi, Palo Alto, Calif. In addition to Cync, NGC announced the expansion of its cyber work with UMBC to include research on health data analytics.

Merkle Acquires Pointmarc, Partners With Another Firm

Columbia-based Merkle has announced its acquisition of Pointmarc, a digital analytics consultancy with site analytics and optimization capabilities, headquartered in Seattle.

Merkle’s growth strategy is rooted in the enhancement and scaling of its digital capabilities across data, analytics, technology, and experience design and creation. Merkle’s interest in acquiring Pointmarc was based on its expertise in highly specialized, sophisticated data architecture and engineering, as well as the immediate scale that it will bring to the agency’s existing site analytics and channel optimization capabilities. In addition, Pointmarc’s deeply ingrained relationships with key technology partners — most notably Adobe — will strengthen Merkle’s existing partnership.

Merkle has also announced a strategic partnership with Tealium, a leader in enterprise tag management and real-time unified marketing solutions. The partnership enables the two companies’ complementary solutions to facilitate unique customer engagement and deliver real-time, personalized experiences.

Tealium offers an enterprise tag management system, Tealium iQ, to streamline digital marketing technology deployments and connect the data produced by disparate, yet interdependent, marketing systems. Tealium AudienceStream, the company’s audience segmentation and action engine, enables marketers to enrich and transform data into actionable insights, allowing for relevant, real-time remarketing and retargeting across all digital touch points.

Ball Announces Legislation to Expand Healthy Food and Drink Choices

Howard County Councilmember Calvin Ball pre-filed legislation on Thursday, April 23, to institute a new set of nutritional standards for food and drinks sold on Howard County Government property. These standards are designed to help provide county residents with healthier eating and drinking options at parks, libraries, community centers and other public facilities.

If passed, the legislation would ensure that 100% of the food and drinks sold in Howard County facilities, programs and vending machines that serve a large youth population will be required to meet the standards. Through provisions regarding placement, advertising and pricing, healthier choices would become more noticeable, desirable and affordable. Water and fat free milk would be heavily encouraged as drinking choices, as opposed to sugar-sweetened beverages.

The legislation was introduced before the Howard County Council on Monday, May 4, and a public hearing will be held on Monday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Horizon Foundation President & CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick spoke about the foundation’s work to address the twin epidemics of childhood obesity and teenage diabetes, both of which are linked to excessive consumption of sugary drinks. In March, the foundation announced that Howard County has seen a 4.1% decline in soda sales, while nationally sales declined at just 1.3%.

“Howard County has been recognized both locally and nationally for being ahead of the curve in promoting healthy lifestyles and better nutrition,” said Highsmith Vernick. “The Horizon Foundation believes that standards like those proposed by Councilmember Ball are critical to addressing some of the biggest public health threats we face.”

SHA Upgrading Route 50 Lighting in Anne Arundel

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) is starting a $7.6 million highway lighting upgrade along U.S. Route 50 between the Anne Arundel County/Prince George’s County line and Route 70 (Rowe Boulevard). The project will begin early May.

The SHA’s contractor, Traffic Systems Inc., of Harmans, will replace the original aging system, including underground conduits, electrical cables and underpass lighting systems. Crews will construct concrete foundations and install new poles, averaging about three poles each day. The lighting upgrades should be complete by spring 2018, weather permitting.

The new systems will be LED lighting along the highway and including interchanges at Route 424 (Davidsonville Road), I-97, Route 665 (Aris T. Allen Boulevard/Riva Road), Route 178 (Generals Highway), Route 450 (Defense Highway) and Route 2 (Solomons Island Road), as well as Rowe Boulevard.

Additionally, redesigned light poles and mast arms will more effectively direct lighting onto the highway and reduce illumination of grassy surfaces, non-travel lanes and nearby buildings or residential areas. Upon completion of the project, the Route 50 Corridor will have only 430 light poles instead of the current 490, a nearly 13% reduction. The new LED technology and reduced number of light poles will save approximately 20–25% of annual energy costs for this corridor.

BTS Software Solutions Awarded Catalyst Loan From HCEDA

BTS Software Solutions, a software development company that uses technology to create solutions for Warfighters to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, has been awarded a Catalyst Loan by the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA).

The Catalyst Loan Fund is a locally managed source of capital from Maryland’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business loan fund, which receives a percentage of Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) revenue from Maryland casinos. HCEDA is a designated fund manager.

With this new funding, BTS Software Solutions plans to expand its Government Solutions Division and Commercial Solutions Division, as well as grow its newest business unit, Verb8tm. The division has recently secured government contracts in a number of categories, increasing opportunities for sole source and set-aside awards that directly translate to new jobs and revenue for the county.

The Commercial Solutions Division is also accelerating its growth through current and new awards by maintaining an approximate 75% conversion rate. This funding will also help BTS Software Solutions promote its newest advancement, Verb8tm, in an effort to better serve deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in Howard County using state-of-the-art technology that turns audio content into incredibly accurate audio transcriptions and captions.