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Architect Addresses Raising Roof at Merriweather

After the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning’s approval of Merriweather Post Pavilion’s final development plan, residents gathered under the roof of the outdoor venue as project architect Jamie Pett, principal at JP2 Architects, of Baltimore, shared the 10-year plan for renovations at the facility. They include raising the structure’s roof (which rests approximately 33 feet above the stage at its lowest point) by approximately 20 feet, adding more concessions and building a two-story warehouse.

Officials with the Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the pavilion, presented the public meeting to share the benefits of raising the pavilion’s roof, which is necessary to accommodate the changes in technology that are part of a modern concert presentation.

Recent renovations at the venue, which encompass a redesigned west entrance with a new box office, concession stands, merchandise booths and restrooms, were completed toward the end of the 2015 concert season, which concluded on Oct. 4.

CRTC Announces Alliance With LAUNCH! Annapolis

The Chesapeake Regional Tech Council (CRTC) has announced a strategic alliance with LAUNCH! Annapolis, an expanding nonprofit meetup community that was founded to stimulate, facilitate and support entrepreneurship.

The CRTC and LAUNCH! Annapolis seek to strengthen and expand support for the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through jointly developing programming that highlights entrepreneurship, innovation, early-stage investment and small business success in relation to topics such as business idea evaluation, managing a new venture, technology commercialization and alternative financing.

“In addition to CRTC’s traditional focus on propelling existing business, we are striving to support new business formation as a critical part of the business life cycle,” said John Elstner, the CRTC’s interim executive director. “LAUNCH! Annapolis represents a critical mass of entrepreneurial passion, and the community building objectives are completely aligned with the CRTC mission.”

Chesapeake Lodging Trust Updates Outlook, Announces $100M Share Repurchase Program

Annapolis-based Chesapeake Lodging Trust is providing an update to its 2015 outlook, and its board of trustees authorized a $100 million share repurchase program.

“We expect to achieve our previously provided outlook on RevPAR growth for our hotel portfolio for the third quarter and full year; however, we are adjusting our outlook for the second half of 2015 to primarily reflect a change in expectations in the composition of our RevPAR growth, which we now expect to be led by stronger occupancy growth and modestly lower ADR growth than previously expected, which negatively impacts profitability; weaker than expected results in late August and early September as a result of the Labor Day shift; and a significantly larger than expected increase in property taxes at our two Chicago hotels,” said James Francis, the trust’s president and CEO.

“Reflecting our belief that lodging industry fundamentals will remain positive for the foreseeable future and our confidence in the positioning and growth potential of our existing portfolio,” said Francis, “we have authorized a $100 million share repurchase program to provide the Trust with the ability to opportunistically use available capital to enhance returns for our shareholders.”

Hayward Baker Acquires South Carolina Firm Ellington Cross

Hayward Baker Inc. (HBI), of Hanover, has announced the acquisition of assets of Ellington Cross LLC (EC), a regional geotechnical contractor that provides Earthquake Drain design and installation. Headquartered in Charleston, S.C., EC operates primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Members of EC and HBI will combine operations into the existing Charleston Area Office and operate under the name Ellington Cross, a division of Hayward Baker. HBI will take on EC’s existing management team and employees, as well as assume key existing contracts.

EC is a regional geotechnical contractor focused on liquefaction mitigation ground improvement using Earthquake Drains (sometimes referred to as EQ Drains). HBI owns the patent for mitigating liquefaction using prefabricated vertical drains throughout North America. Unlike prefabricated vertical wick drains, EQ Drains have a much larger cross-sectional area and flow capacity, intended to limit pore pressure increases in cohesionless soils and subsequent liquefaction during earthquake events.

Exelon, Pepco Holdings File for Reconsideration of Merger

Pepco Holdings Inc. and Exelon Corp. have filed a petition for reconsideration of their merger with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia. The companies are working with the District of Columbia government to reach a settlement agreement.

“We remain convinced our merger offers significant benefits to customers and the District, and we continue working to complete it,” said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. “Since the Public Service Commission explained why it didn’t approve the merger last month, we’ve worked to learn what’s most important to the District — and we are responding.”

The District of Columbia government issued a statement confirming that it is engaged in substantive discussions with the companies on a settlement agreement. It added that any settlement agreement would be presented in a new application to the PSC for review, public comment and final determination.

KatzAbosch Named to IPA’s Top 300 National Accounting Firms

INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) has presented its first ranking of the Nation’s Top 300 accounting firms, with Lutherville-based KatzAbosch, which operates an office in Columbia, listed as the 208th best accounting firm in the United States.

The October issue of IPA will pick up where September’s IPA 200 issue left off, ranking firms from No. 201 to No. 300. The list was developed by gathering information from more than 500 firms that completed IPA’s Survey and Analysis of Firms. Many professional associations also aided in the search for firms to add to the list, which IPA plans to publish annually.

For the most recent fiscal year, IPA 300 firms range in size from $7.7 million to $15 million, and from 25 to 120 staff. These firms employ more than 6,700 total staff members across the nation.

BWI Marshall Airport Announces New August Record

One month after setting a new monthly record for passenger traffic, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport reported that 2,194,399 passengers traveled through the airport in August. That figure, an increase of 5% over August 2014, was a new August record for passenger traffic.

Leading the way once again in August was international passenger traffic, which recorded another strong, double-digit increase of nearly 32%. A major capital improvement, the D/E Connector program, is underway in order to increase international capacity and provide new passenger services.

A number of BWI Marshall airlines experienced passenger growth for the month of August, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways and Condor.

Red Carpet Announcement of Hammerjacks’ Rebirth Set for Nov. 7

Saturday, Nov. 7, will mark the official announcement of a new era for the legendary South Baltimore nightclub with the “Hammerjacks Rocks the Red Carpet” announcement party @ Game Sports & Spirits, located at 1400 Warner Street, between the Horseshoe Casino and M&T Bank Stadium.

The event, which will be free to the public, announcing the construction schedule of the new entertainment complex will begin at 8:30 p.m., and will feature live music, a disc jockey and “many special guests,” said Kevin Butler, the west Anne Arundel County resident who purchased the rights to the Hammerjacks name for $1,000 four years ago.

“The process that led up to this announcement has been long and, at times, tedious,” said Butler, “but that was all part of the effort, by myself and our partners, to make the new Hammerjacks an entertainment facility that is worthy of the name. I know that our fans and the area business community with be impressed and excited by the plans that we’ll announce on Nov. 7, as we begin to write the next chapter of our long and successful story.”

Gables Residential Expands in Howard County

Atlanta-based Gables Residential has continued to expand its third-party management portfolio in Maryland as it assumes operations of two AEW Capital Management LP multi-family communities in Howard County — Ashton Green, in Columbia; and Ashton Woods, in Ellicott City.

Ashton Green is located at 5320 Cedar Lane in Columbia, situated adjacent to Cedar Lane Park and overlooking Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club. The community has 170 apartment homes with a mix of one- and two-bedroom, as well as three-bedroom, townhomes; Ashton Woods is located at 8401 Oakton Lane in Ellicott City, in a wooded area that provides each apartment home with privacy and balcony views. The community has a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes — 204 in total.

SHA Begins Stormwater Management Work in I-97 Median in Anne Arundel

As part of its commitment to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) will regrade and stabilize grass swales in the median of I-97 between I-695 and Route 50 in Anne Arundel County. The project began last month.

The $3.5 million project is intended to reduce the velocity of water, particularly during heavy rainfall and snow melt. SHA awarded the contract to Concrete General Inc., of Gaithersburg. There will be no lane closures on I-97 during the project, although motorists will see crews working during the day behind concrete barriers in the median. The project should be complete by spring of 2017.

Severn Bancorp Terminates Agreement Between Severn Savings Bank FSB, OCC

Annapolis-based Severn Bancorp Inc., parent company of Severn Savings Bank FSB, has announced that Severn was informed by its primary regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), that the formal written agreement between Severn and the OCC dated April 23, 2013, was terminated on Oct. 15.

“The termination of the agreement with our regulators validates the strength and good standing of this bank. We continue in our commitment to providing top notch service, and this company is poised for growth and success,” said Alan Hyatt, president and CEO.

U.S. Chamber Foundation Study Ranks Maryland Among Leading Tech States

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has named the states best poised to thrive in the rapidly evolving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focused economy, and Maryland ranked second in the nation for talent pipeline, third for innovation and entrepreneurship and fifth in the overall high tech performance category.

The Foundation’s sixth annual Enterprising States: States Innovate study ranks the top 10 states in the categories of economic performance, transportation and trade, innovation and entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline and high-tech performance.

“STEM and high tech job concentration, and growth in biotechnology and cybersecurity, have made Maryland a top economic performer,” said Carolyn Cawley, managing director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Gov. Larry Hogan has signed numerous bills to stimulate economic growth and development and recently took a trade mission to Asia, where he explored new business partnerships and construction of a high-speed, high tech rail to connect Baltimore and Washington.”

CAMI Established to Bolster Cybersecurity Market

The nonprofit Cybersecurity Association of Maryland (CAMI), a new organization dedicated solely to facilitating sales and job growth for the state in the $100 billion global cybersecurity industry, has been established. CAMI operates Buy MD Cyber (BMC), a program connecting Maryland cyber companies with prospective buyers — locally, nationally and globally — online and in person.

Online at www.buymdcyber.com, businesses and individuals can search a directory of Maryland cybersecurity products and service providers, and connect directly with those that meet their needs. Searches can be narrowed down in a variety of ways, including by industry focus and designations, such as minority-owned, woman-owned, service disabled veteran-owned small business and government contractor. There is no cost for cyber companies to be included in the directory. To date, almost 150 entities have self-registered.

HCAC Selects NextLOGiK to Redesign Web Site, Calendar

The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) has selected NextLOGiK, a Columbia-based technology solutions provider, to develop a new web site and interactive events calendar. The launch of the site will be the centerpiece of activities planned to commemorate the HCAC’s 35th anniversary in 2016.

The interactive cultural events calendar will include HCAC-hosted events, along with arts programs and events produced by local arts groups at venues throughout the county, which can be submitted to the council. The calendar will act as a hub of “all things art” in Howard County and keep the community updated and involved.

Quotient to Provide Department of Ed’s NAGB Web, Mobile Support

Columbia-based Quotient Inc. has been awarded a re-compete contract to build and enhance web services for the Department of Education’s National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). The contract grants funding to provide worldwide web support services, as well as mobile app development and enhancement of existing apps.

As part of the recently-awarded re-compete contract, Quotient will continue providing the NAGB with web development and support services. In addition, the contract was expanded to include development of a mobile application that will provide access and flexibility across devices, as well as enhancement of existing apps.

Pinnacle Advisory Group Acquires the Enrichment Group

Columbia-based Pinnacle Advisory Group has acquired The Enrichment Group, a Miami-based Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). The Enrichment Group specializes in helping clients who are going through life transitions. The firm’s employees will join Pinnacle, with Kathleen and Pat Day, TEG’s vice president, joining the board as directors.

Pinnacle now has 50 employees in three offices, with the third in Naples, Fla.) and manages $1.8 billion in assets for more than 1,100 clients. “We’re excited about the potential operational synergies between Pinnacle and TEG to help us both stay competitive, while leveraging our combined professional talent,” said Michael Kitces, partner and director of financial planning research for Pinnacle.

Local Company Garners TEDCO Cybersecurity Investment

The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) has announced that six new Maryland companies received funding from its Cybersecurity Investment Fund (CIF). Jedvice, Point 3 Security, Topaz Research, Efflux Systems, Bricata and QI Solutions were each awarded $100,000 through CIF. The fund supports Maryland companies looking to develop and commercialize new cybersecurity products or services by providing investments of up to $225,000.

Efflux Systems, of Millersville, proactively arms cybersecurity defenders with an integrated toolset that quickly automates the threat discovery process, making defenders more agile than their adversaries. Efflux’s Threat Discovery System (TDS), a cybersecurity hunt framework, normalizes traffic within a network by utilizing advanced analytics to uncover malicious activity.

BGE Extends Credit Agreement Under Exelon Minority Banking Program

BGE and its parent company, Exelon Corp., have arranged credit lines totaling $123 million with 28 minority and community-owned banks located in BGE’s service area and other regions where Exelon operates. Exelon’s minority and community banking program, which began in 2003, is unique in the energy industry. Administered by JP Morgan Chase since its inception, the program now has 28 participating banks across the country; more than quadruple the original number.

Locally, Harbor Bank serves as the lead arranger for BGE’s credit line. “These partnerships are part of BGE’s and Exelon’s ongoing commitment to investing in our communities and engaging diverse suppliers in major transactions,” said Calvin Butler, Jr., chief executive officer for BGE. “There are multiple benefits to these relationships: BGE receives an additional source of credit at a competitive price, the banks are able to strengthen their relationships with us a key customer, and the local economy also receives a boost.”