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Reasons to lead with gratitude 

When was the last time you expressed gratitude to your team? What about your customers? Your business partners?  

And I mean really expressed gratitude by going beyond a simple thank you 

Although it’s critically important to say thank you, what people really need is to have their unique contributions recognized. When people feel valued, they also feel empowered to do their best work. 

Better Business Bureau® serving Greater Maryland offers these four reasons to practice sincere gratitude in your business.  

When you’re mentally and physically healthy, you can be a better leader. 

Your health matters to your business. Research shows that people who focus their energy on gratitude are healthier both physically and mentally. They show fewer signs of stress, feel optimistic and have strong personal relationships.  

Those same benefits can help tremendously in a business setting. Healthy leaders are resilient amidst challenges, conscious of growth opportunities and better able to resolve conflicts.  

A positive work environment motivates employees to work at a higher level. 

Gratitude doesn’t just make people feel good. In fact, it has real, tangible benefits.  

Most notably, when employees feel their contributions are truly appreciated by the organization, they gain the motivation to work smarter and get results.  

Gratitude actually pushes people to work more effectively. A University of Oxford study found that happy employees achieved 13 percent higher sales than unhappy employees, and they achieved those results in the same window of time.  

The reason? Happier employees simply worked faster. 

Grateful leaders hold onto valuable employees. 

Happy and appreciated employees don’t just produce better results, they’re also more likely to stick around – meaning you get to keep your top performers.  

Keeping valuable employees on the team is one of the most important things a business can do. Skilled and loyal employees can educate new team members and they’re more prepared to take on or develop creative projects.  

Customers will exhibit greater loyalty and make positive recommendations of your business.  

Just like employees, customers can feel your positive attitude and they’ll respond to it in kind. 

Loyalty programs, referral promotions and even a sincere thank you can motivate them to come back, leave a review or tell their friends.  

Research published in Harvard Business Review shows customer retention saves businesses money since it costs roughly 5 to 25 times less than new client acquisition. You can save money just by showing gratitude to your customers, because loyal customers do some of your advertising work for you.  

Gratitude contributes to a stronger workplace, healthy camaraderie and overall, it makes people happier. Happy people treat each other with respect, motivate one another and they help push your business to greater success.  

There are a few simple ways you can practice gratitude. Even taking the time to merely think about the things you’re grateful for can have a positive effect on your outlook but don’t forget to articulate your gratitude as well.  

Find lessons on topics like practicing gratitude and motivating employees with the BBB® serving Greater Maryland webinar series.  

View the BBB Business Education Series archive online, or register for an upcoming webinar at BBB.org/md-events.  

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. 


Howard County residential market favors sellers

Homes are selling quickly in Howard County, according to the latest numbers of the Howard County Association of REALTORS (HCAR). Residential listings remained on the market for an average of 10 days, which is a 47.4 percent decrease below this same time last year and 56 percent below the five-year May average of 23 days.

New residential listings in May were up 33.5 percent (661 vs. 495) compared to the same month last year, while active listings were down 51.5 percent. New closed sales were up 64.8 percent, and the average sale price was $555,747, which is up 18.3 percent compared to the same month last year. The average sales price to list price ratio was 103 percent in May, meaning that on average, homes were selling above asking prices.

The Contract Ratio of 2.87 pending’s per active listing, shows an increase of 1.05 compared to the same month last year. The Contract Ratio is 123 percent higher than the 5-year May average of 1.29.

“A higher Contract Ratio signifies a relative increase in contract activity compared to supply and indicates the market continues to move in the seller’s favor,” said HCAR President Shirley Matlock, CRS. “We anticipate this seller’s market to remain strong throughout the summer.”


Merkle achieves Amazon Redshift Service Delivery designation

Merkle of Columbia has received the Amazon Redshift Service Delivery designation from Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of the AWS Service Delivery Program, further building on the strategic collaboration announced in late 2020. This designation marks the continued prioritization by Merkle to provide accurate, privacy-minded data to customer experience-focused marketers and data science teams.

Marketing and analytics teams need a modern, scalable, and secure data platform to integrate customer data from disparate sources and activate privacy-safe and real-time customer experiences (CX). The Amazon Redshift Service Delivery designation is a key milestone in activating the Merkle and AWS strategic roadmap to deliver CX solutions for the brands they serve, including:

  • Connected Customer 360 identity platform
  • Digital and terrestrial identities
  • Marketing data warehouse
  • Marketing analytics
  • Data clean rooms
  • Integration with Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

Merkle was recently recognized by Forrester Research as a leader among the top customer database and engagement agencies and for its ability to deliver the full complement of critical services for CX-focused marketers. This designation is representative of Merkle’s ability to serve its customers in developing next-generation CX solutions leveraging Amazon Redshift.


Small business COVID-19 relief extended

Local small businesses can continue to receive a new federal tax credit to cover paid sick and family leave for employees through the end of September, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger announced.

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, employers with fewer than 500 employees may receive up to $17,110 per employee to provide workers with up to 10 days of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. Workers can also use leave to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and recover from any temporary side effects from their shot.

Research has shown that states where employees gained access to paid sick leave through this tax credit experienced a slow-down in the spread of COVID-19.

Roughly 6 million businesses and more than 30 million workers are eligible for this credit. Businesses can access the advanceable, refundable tax credit in real-time by reducing the amounts they set-aside for payroll taxes and employee withholding, and then claim any excess on their quarterly tax filings or request for an advance payment from the IRS.

Certain self-employed individuals in similar circumstances are entitled to similar credits as are schools, public hospitals and other state and local government employers.

Businesses can find instructions for how to claim the credit at Instructions for Form 7200 (04/2021) | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov).


Maryland Environmental Service names Ellen Frketic deputy director

Ellen Frketic. Photo courtesy MES.

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) of Millersville announced Ellen Frketic as the agency’s new deputy director. Frketic was selected by Agency Director Charles Glass with the consent of Governor Larry Hogan. She will share the responsibility of overall agency performance, financial stability and strategic direction, while helping to seek new opportunities across the state.

Frketic joined MES in 1988 as a project manager, and quickly moved up to chief of the Water/Wastewater Engineering Division. She has more than 40 years of experience in water and wastewater distribution, collection, treatment, and reuse. She has also been responsible for planning and implementation of the agency’s annual Capital Budget, which ranges from $10 to $20 million, and includes upgrades to the state’s water and wastewater treatment, storage and conveyance facilities. Ms. Frketic has a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Clarkson University and a Professional Engineer’s license from Texas.


Governor Hogan announces $10M in relief for live entertainment venues

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the recipients of 65 awards totaling $10 million for live music and performance venues and live entertainment promoters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief funding is in addition to the $30 million allocated earlier this year to music and entertainment venues as part of the State of Maryland’s economic recovery plan.

“As we continue to move forward in our recovery, I am proud to announce more support for these entertainment businesses and venues as part of our Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative,” said Hogan. “These awards protect jobs and preserve important cultural institutions in Maryland communities ready to get back to normal.”

Administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, awards will be distributed to live venues that closed or cancelled events and performances due to capacity limitations in response to the pandemic, and for which any previous state or federal assistance was not sufficient to cover the live entertainment venue or promoter’s expenses due to the event’s size or venue.

“This is a critical recovery resource to help these businesses as they ramp back up their operations,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth Holt. “When we can provide quick and direct assistance, we are not solely helping these businesses, we are strengthening the whole community.”

In total, 49 live entertainment venues and 14 promoters from 12 counties and Baltimore City will receive the funding. The beneficiaries include Merriweather Post Pavilion ($247,039) and Toby’s Dinner Theater ($247,039) in Columbia; and Rams Head On Stage ($200,101) in Annapolis. For a full list of awardees, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Documents/PressReleases/MarylandStrongEconomicRecoveryInitiativeAwards.pdf


Gable gets USPS excellence award

Gable, of Marley Neck, is honored to be the winner of the 2020 Supplier Sustainability Excellence Award from the United States Postal Service (USPS). The award recognizes companies that make outstanding contributions through quality performance and services.

Only 13 companies were selected out of more than 13,000 suppliers who provide services to USPS. Gable was chosen for its commendable performance, development, and innovative approach in sustainable business practices that support and help the USPS operate in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

“Receiving this prestigious award of excellence from the United States Post Office is such a great honor for our entire team.  It is a privilege to be their sole provider of signage for over 10 years,” said Gable Senior Vice President Eric Crowe.


Sheppard Pratt opens new campus in Elkridge

Photo courtesy Sheppard Pratt.

Sheppard Pratt has opened its new Baltimore/Washington Campus, in Elkridge. The 156,000-square foot, state-of-the-art, behavioral health hospital incorporates the latest advances in design for effective treatment and will replace Sheppard Pratt’s hospital in Ellicott City.

The new campus will offer the full totality of psychiatric and behavioral health services to advance care. The new hospital includes 85 inpatient beds; four specialized outpatient programs including eating disorders, thought disorders and mood disorders; psychiatric urgent care; and more.

The Baltimore/Washington Campus will launch a Psychiatric Urgent Care to provide urgent assessments and triage to appropriate care for individuals experiencing mental health and/or addiction crises. This expands the urgent care services currently offered at Sheppard Pratt’s Psychiatric Urgent Care in Towson, which opened nearly a decade ago and serves 5,000 individuals in crisis a year. The expanded services address the growing need, particularly in the Baltimore/Washington Corridor, for more direct and efficient access to psychiatric care—a need that has become more pressing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the new young adult patient care unit that was not at the previous Ellicott City hospital, the expansion to four specialized outpatient programs — where clients return home daily after participating in several hours of group and individual treatment, offer new care and services for targeted populations and disorders including children and adolescents and eating disorders. These offerings represent an expansion of services to people in the Corridor.

The campus will also offer access to the latest treatments, including novel approaches such as neuromodulation for mood disorders, particularly treatment-resistant depression, to help find solutions for people who have been struggling for years.

The design of the Baltimore/Washington Campus reflects Sheppard Pratt’s commitment to setting the national standard for psychiatric and behavioral health care. Set on 50 acres of land, the hospital’s setting ensures privacy and takes advantage of the surrounding woods.



Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership kicks off summer manufacturing internship program  

The Columbia-based Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MD MEP) recently kicked off its sixth-annual Summer Manufacturing Internship Program, which supports Maryland manufacturers with the cost of hiring, onboarding and training summer interns. This year’s program is MD MEP’s most successful to date, matching 28 rising college juniors, seniors, and graduate students with work placement inside 12 manufacturers across the state.

The Summer Manufacturing Internship Program is a key initiative in MD MEP’s efforts to cultivate Maryland’s next generation of manufacturing talent. As host of the program, MD MEP will connect the interns and the sponsor companies throughout the summer, ending with a final presentation on Aug. 4. Each intern will present about their work within their manufacturing facility, allowing all the students to learn from each other’s experiences, and be exposed to other manufacturers across the state. MD MEP, through Maryland’s Department of Labor EARN Program, offers a $1,000 reimbursement per intern to support wages paid by each participating manufacturer.

Beyond providing the interns with invaluable work experience, the program also helps local manufacturers with one of their most pressing challenges ― building a skilled workforce. The 12 manufacturers participating in this year’s program are Aidar Health, Caldwell Manufacturing, C-Care, Direct Dimensions, EFI Group, Hardwire, Longeviti, Mahlet Consulting, Miltec UV, Pompeian, Strouse and Zero Point Therapeutics.

“As a small biotech company manufacturing therapeutics for infectious diseases, the MD MEP Manufacturing Internship Program has served a number of purposes. It has allowed us to expose young budding scientists to the real nuts and bolts of drug development and manufacturing. The program also provides economic support at a time when we need it to meet our goals but lastly, it gives us a chance to have more team members to help us further execute our task of manufacturing our drug and filing our application with the FDA,” said Joseph Amprey, CEO of Zero Point Five Therapeutics. “All I can say is even as a CEO of a biotech company, I wish I could have had the experience that we are providing to our summer interns all because of this program. “

To learn more about the MD MEP Summer Manufacturing Internship Program, please visit https://mdmep.org/internship-program or contact Kerry Wells at kwells@mdmep.org.


Howard students reach finals in National Personal Finance Challenge

High school students from the Applications and Research Laboratory in Ellicott City, earned first runner-up honors in this year’s National Personal Finance Challenge (NPFC). Competing teams showcased their understanding of an essential life skill: how to manage money, whether you have a lot of it or not much at all.

Nearly 10,000 students from more than 350 schools competed across the United States in the NPFC this spring. Students from Millard North High School in Omaha, Neb., earned the top finish, with teams from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Calif., and Germantown High School of Madison, Miss., rounding out the top four finalists from the 24 semifinals teams.

The competition showcases students’ ability to use their knowledge to assess a family’s financial situation and present a thoughtful plan including earning, spending, saving, using credit and investing.

Organized by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) with help from the Nebraska Council for Economic Education, it was held entirely online due to COVID-19. The NPFC is sponsored by Voya Financial.

The Ellicott City’s team second-place win extends a Maryland winning streak started last month when Mt. Hebron High School swept teams from around the United States to win all levels of CEE’s National Economics Challenge, in which students demonstrate mastery of economic principles.



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