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Biz Kidz hands out Annual Award


Biz Kidz Academy is a non-profit 501(c) organization, founded by Dr. Marlene Jackson and her daughter, Ashley Jackson. The Christian-focused organization was established to inspire students (Ages 5-18), to become successful kidpreneurs.  The goal of the program is to motivate business-minded leaders to creatively embrace their entrepreneurial spirit, lead confidently, think critically, and become financially responsible.

On May 18, 2019, Biz Kidz sponsored its’ annual Market Day/Shark Tank Competition/Award Ceremony.  Family, friends, and the community were invited to come out to support aspiring kidpreneurs as they sold their products and pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges.

Congratulations to Makayla Martin, Teenpreneur, CEO & Founder of Golden Hands Jewelry  (All Handmade) for winning the $500.00 Frances Barber Educational Scholarship. Makayla won the scholarship for composing an outstanding 500-word essay that detailed how Golden Hands Jewelry helps the community.

Visit www.goldenhandsjewelry.com or www.facebook.com/goldenhandsjewelry/ to discover more about this young up and coming entrepreneur.

For more information about Biz Kidz Academy, www.bizkidz.us.

Residences at Vantage Point to Host Naturalist Ned Tillman, Author of “The Big Melt”


Residences at Vantage Point Arts & Culture Collective presents naturalist Ned Tillman reading from his young adult novel, “The Big Melt,” on Tuesday, June 18, from 7-8 p.m., in the auditorium of the retirement community in Downtown Columbia. The public is invited to attend.

“The Big Melt” is a work of contemporary fantasy fiction featuring a series of climate catastrophes that challenge people living in Sleepy Valley to save their town. Tillman will read from his work and discuss the power of literature and intergenerational collaboration to address climate change.

Tillman is the the author of “The Chesapeake Watershed: A Sense of Place and a Call to Action” and “Saving the Places We Love.” He is Principal of Sustainable Growth, LLC, and was formerly President of an environmental assessments firm, Columbia Technologies. He has an MS in Science and Engineering from Syracuse University and a BA in Earth and Environmental Science from Franklin and Marshall College. He lives in Howard County.

There is no admission fee for the reading, but reservations are required at stewartk@vantageplace.org.

The Arts & Culture Collective is presenting a series of programs at the Residences at Vantage Point, as well as excursions to arts and cultural events taking place elsewhere in the community, to highlight Columbia as the “campus” for residents of the retirement community. Partnerships with local institutions have made the series possible.

Residences at Vantage Point, formerly known as Vantage House, was founded in 1990 and is a nonprofit serving people age 60 and above. Managed by Life Care Services, the community includes a variety of residential living arrangements from studio to two-bedroom/den apartments. It provides long-term health services available exclusively for residents should they need them.

Residences at Vantage Point is located at 5400 Vantage Point Road. Call 410-992-1241 or visit www.VantagePointResidences.org for more information.

Kaseya acquires Bowie’s ID Agent


Kaseya, a provider of complete information technology (IT) infrastructure management solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) and internal IT organizations, has acquired Bowie-based ID Agent, the threat intelligence and identity monitoring provider.

With the acquisition, Kaseya furthers its IT security management solution by combining user protection and infrastructure protection into a single comprehensive security suite. ID Agent’s products, including Dark Web ID, the channel’s number one dark web monitoring platform; and BullPhish ID, a first-of-its-kind phishing simulator and security awareness platform, join with Kaseya’s AuthAnvil identity and access management for multi-factor authentication, password vaulting, and single sign-on to provide complete protection for users –  who are often the weakest link in the security chain.

Kaseya Security Manager completes the offering by extending protection to computer and network infrastructure, including network scanning, vulnerability assessments, detection of unauthorized user activity or software installations, to ensure the protection of servers, endpoints, and network devices.

“We’re thrilled to add ID Agent, our fifth market-leading acquisition in the last 18 months, to the Kaseya family and to integrate its visionary cybersecurity solutions into IT Complete, our platform to help IT organizations simplify their tech stack by providing everything an IT department could want -and more,” said Fred Voccola, CEO, Kaseya.

ID Agent will continue to operate under its existing brand in Bowie and will continue to be led by founder and CEO Kevin Lancaster. “We’re so excited to be joining with Kaseya. The marriage of ID Agent with Kaseya’s existing security stack, will give external and internal service providers greater opportunity to be leaders in cybersecurity protection by staying ahead of emerging threats with powerful, cost-effective services,” said Lancaster. “This combination bolsters the IT complete platform and adds to the tremendous momentum that has seen Kaseya grow to more than 40,000 customers worldwide.”

AAMC, Doctors Community Health to form new health system


Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), of Annapolis, and Doctors Community Health System (DCHS), of Lanham, are working toward a definitive agreement to create a new health system that will serve the region.

Last year, DCHS began the search for a partner to help strengthen its existing services, make new investments, and to continue to meet the needs of patients and the Prince George’s County community. While the hospitals have primary locations in separate counties, there are bordering service areas between the two, with AAMC serving patients in Prince George’s County through locations in Largo and Bowie, and DCHS serving patients in its Crofton location.

“Partnership is essential for independent hospitals that are working to navigate the rapidly changing health care environment,” said Philip Down, CEO of DCHS. “We vetted many affiliation opportunities, and ultimately chose Anne Arundel Medical Center because of our shared values of community service and quality care.”

Through the new health system, AAMC plans to invest up to $138 million over five years in the existing DCHS campus and its information technology infrastructure, expand inpatient and outpatient services, and launch much-needed programs that support the Prince George’s County Community Health Needs Assessment.

Due diligence discussions are expected to continue for the next 30 days. A name for the new health system will be announced this summer.

First dig done for AACC Health & Sciences


The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) Health and Life Sciences Building was recently held at the Arnold campus. The community was invited to join Dawn Lindsay, AACC president, the board of trustees and local dignitaries, including Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman at the event.

The 175,000-square foot, three-story building includes 19 biology labs and 11 health science labs, a 160-seat lecture hall, greenhouse, classrooms, computer labs, study/meeting rooms, tutoring and advising, and faculty and deans’ offices.

The building, part of the college’s 10-year Facilities Master Plan, will house more than 20 health sciences programs, as well as biology, nutrition and more. Expansion of the college’s nationally-ranked nursing program will be possible, and the building will host an environmental center with cutting-edge research contributing to the region’s environmental health. It also will have the flexibility to accommodate new programs.

AACC awarded the roughly $13 million design contract to architects at SmithGroup and the almost $91 million construction project to The Whiting Turner Contracting Company. The equipment and furnishings budget is around $13 million.

Funding was provided by the county and state. AACC is grateful for their support and for recognizing how equipping our students in the best way possible makes for a better Anne Arundel County and Maryland for all of us. The building is set to be completed August 2021.

Maryland get high ranking among ‘best states’


Maryland moved up seven spots in this year’s ranking of the U.S. News & World Report’s third annual rundown of the best states in the nation, moving up to the 6th best state to live in for 2019, up from 13th last year.

The Best States rankings show how each of the 50 U.S. states ranks in 71 metrics across eight categories. The data behind the rankings aims to show how well states serve their residents in various ways.  In calculating the rankings, each category was assigned weightings based on the average of three years of data from an annual national survey that asked a total of more than 50,000 people to prioritize each subject in their state.

In individual categories, Maryland ranked as follows.

● Crime & Corrections: 22

● Economy: 26

● Education: 13

● Fiscal Stability: 15

● Health Care: 8

● Infrastructure: 21

● Natural Environment: 25

● Opportunity: 5

The five states ranking ahead of Maryland on the overall list were, from first to fifth, Washington, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont; rounding out the top 10, from sixth the tenth, were Virginia, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Colorado.

For the complete list, visit www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings.

Ball announces Ellicott City flood plan


As part of his Safe and Sound plan, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced his decision on a comprehensive flood mitigation plan for Ellicott City. Last month, Ball presented the five best options to address flooding and solicited public comment from residents, both online and at a community meeting.

Since, Ball announced his final decision, Option 3G.7.0. The plan includes a range of key projects, including a North Tunnel, that will decrease flood depths and ensure public safety.

The Ball administration stated that the previous administration’s plan left 4.5 feet of water on Main Street during a 100-year level storm and called for 10 buildings to demolished; and that his plan will leave less than a foot of water on Main Street in the same scenario, and only calls for four buildings to be demolished. Those buildings are the Phoenix Emporium, Discoveries, Bean Hollow, and Great Panes Art Glass Studio. Once the county acquires these buildings, they will begin the Section 106 process with the goal of salvaging as much of the buildings’ historic character as possible.

Individual projects in the plan are already underway, with the goal of completing the entire plan in five years. The current estimates for cost, spread over five years and including building demolitions, run between $113.5 and $140.5 million.

Within the next year, the county will begin construction on the Quaker Mill mitigation pond, design the Maryland Avenue culverts, acquire West End properties, finish design of the Emory and Church Street drainage improvements, put out a request for proposal for the North Tunnel, and more. A national team of experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also conduct an independent review of the plan.

Marylanders can enroll for Health Insurance via tax returns


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones signed a first-of-its-kind health care enrollment bill into law. The Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program (MEEHP) will let Marylanders jump-start enrollment into health insurance by simply checking a box on their annual state income tax returns.

This process will let the state’s health care exchange determine eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance based on information sent electronically from the tax return. Those who qualify for Medicaid will be enrolled automatically, and the exchange will reach out to people who qualify for private coverage and help them sign up for a plan that works for them and their family.

MEEHP is expected to help tens of thousands of Marylanders obtain health insurance, which will expand the pool of consumers who are insured and bring down premium costs for other enrollees.

The bill, which passed with broad, bipartisan support, should serve as a model by other states and the federal government for expanding health care access in a bipartisan way. To underscore this point, Families USA and the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative joined Maryland elected officials for the bill signing in Annapolis.

Sponsored in the House by Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (HB 814) and in the Senate by Sen. Brian Feldman (SB 802), the legislation builds on Maryland’s tradition of smart, practical, bipartisan innovation on health care. This tradition includes the state’s all-payer hospital system, the current Medicare hospital waiver that ramps up care coordination and lowers overall health care costs and last year’s bipartisan reinsurance bill, which stabilized the insurance market and lowered premiums in the individual market.

“The Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program will utilize existing resources more efficiently to get more Marylanders covered,” said Speaker Adrienne Jones. “It’s an out-of-the-box approach to protect the [Affordable Care Act] and continue to bring down health care costs here.”

Is it time to elect the zoning board?


Howard County Council members serve three primary functions. They are the county’s legislative branch, the Zoning Board and the front line for constituent services.

Does the fact that council members, hearing cases brought by property owners about how land is used, make it difficult for them to serve their constituents? If so, how do we change that?

The first problem is caused by the Zoning Board rules, which are judicial, meaning, communication about a case outside of the proceeding itself is prohibited. This means that council members cannot discuss Zoning Board cases with interested constituents, the media or even the parties involved in the case.

This confidentiality is a significant conflict because constituents rightfully expect to be able to express their views and concerns to elected council members. However, in Zoning Board cases, no communication is allowed.

A new problem surfaced recently. Before being elected, Liz Walsh, now a council member and Zoning Board chair, testified, as a private citizen, against Elm Street Development at a Zoning Board hearing. When the Elm Street Development had another hearing in late March, attorneys for the development sought to have Ms. Walsh recused because of her previous testimony.

With no financial conflict on the part of Ms. Walsh, the developer’s request seemed based on “issue bias.”

Issue bias, however, can work both ways. What if support of a project had been stated in advance of a hearing? What if a developer contributed to a council member’s election campaign? Should that council member be recused from every Zoning Board case involving that developer? This is a slippery slope which would eventually mean that the Zoning Board may never get a quorum again!

Both of these problems can be solved by separating the County Council from the Zoning Board.

One way of separating the two functions would be for the County Executive to appoint Zoning Board members with council approval. Because these appointees, however, would not have direct accountability to the voters, this is not an ideal scenario given the importance of zoning issues.

Having elected officials is important. Separating the council from the Zoning Board and then electing Zoning Board members would be the best of both worlds. Council members can serve their constituents with open communication and transparency without the limitations imposed by Zoning Board rules. Constituents no longer need be confused and frustrated. Council candidates can freely give their positions without concern.
Does this solution fix the problem? Yes, because it keeps the council in its legislative lane and creates an elected body that stays in its quasi-judicial role.

And, it’s not a totally unique idea. We already have many elected positions with one specific job, such as the sheriff, some judges, the Register of Wills and others. These elected positions get qualified people doing specific, difficult work, and we don’t expect them to discuss confidential details with constituents.

Development and land use issues are always a hot topic, especially during election campaigns. Candidates’ positions on growth, infrastructure needs and school capacity get the attention of voters. Shouldn’t we have readily available communication, transparency and accountability on zoning issues?

Having council members juggle issues and topics that they can or cannot discuss, depending on what hat they’re wearing, confuses the public and needs to be fixed. Having Zoning Board members focus solely on zoning is that fix, and electing them makes the most sense for Howard County.

Lisa Markovitz is president of the Maryland civic/political group, The People’s Voice.


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3 C’s every entrepreneur needs


An entrepreneur builds their business with what they have; core values, integrity and Character. They respect and celebrate their team by fostering a collaborative Culture. Together, they are in tune and want to give back to their Community.

Last September, our BBB celebrated three businesses for Character, Culture, and Community. Our first Spark Awards honored social entrepreneurs, startup founders and new business owners who demonstrated this foundation for trust, and represented the future of a trusted marketplace.

We just opened nominations and applications for entrepreneurs age of 35 and younger and/or businesses less than three years old that demonstrate Character, Culture and Community for BBB of Greater Maryland’s 2019 Spark Awards.

Winners will be announced in conjunction with our Torch Awards – an honor for established businesses – on Oct. 16 in Baltimore.

BBB starts with trust, and trust starts with a spark. We think a few stories from our inaugural winners may just inspire you to apply or nominate a business you admire. And, just in case you were wondering, it’s free and BBB Accreditation is not a requisite.

“I created and manage my business with the idea that our actions must always match our beliefs. In practice, our core value of sustainability is reflected from our decision to create snacks using all natural ingredients all the way down to selecting packaging that is 100 percent compostable,” said Brianna Billups.

“Our efforts to have sustainable packaging plays into our value of integrity. Communicating our value to promote sustainability in our community and the importance of our local food system means we make decisions that keep us honest and transparent with our consumers.”

Billups is the CEO of Fully Grown LLC, a company that provides food snacks and meal prep service using all natural ingredients, and packaging that is 100 percent compostable. It donates a percentage of its profits to support its nonprofit organization, the Garden Project, which eradicates food deserts by partnering with local Baltimore City public schools to launch after-school gardening programs and healthy cooking clubs as well as with other nonprofits to teach urban agriculture and healthy eating to elementary school-aged kids.

Ortus Academy’s experiential and game-based learning model engages 5th to 12th grade students in programs, teaching more than just financial literacy and education – but Financial Intelligence. Its programs encourage learning through trial and error, foster an entrepreneurial mindset, and put math skills into action.

According to Aaron Velky, CEO, Ortus Academy, “Our culture is a direct reflection of the dynamic game we play with our students; it embodies the framework of Bloom’s taxonomy, and embraces a coaching mentality. We have regular accountability meetings that allow us to learn from our team members’ accomplishments, observations and to brainstorm challenges.”

He added, “Our programs and team both develop and progress through this process of continuous reflection. The individuals that make up the Ortus team undergo constant development and that progress is constantly pulling our program to new levels.”

Our final inspiration hails from Donna Kolb Boesl. She founded Walter Electric, a company she says is “wired to make your home, business or property work better,” and named for her grandfather. Boesl and her husband are working to promote often overlooked, but well-paying, and viable career options.

“Walter Electric is committed to improving our community through encouraging more individuals to consider the trades for employment… We actively support and hire graduates of the Associated Builders and Contractor’s Apprenticeship program, and participate with Maryland Stem conferences, to name a few.”

Do the three C’s of Character, Culture and Community speak to you and your values? If they do and you’re under 35 or your business is three years old or younger, skip on over to our website and have a look at the Spark Award on bbb.org/greater-maryland. 

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

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