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Ribbon cut for HCGH expansion


Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) has officially opened its two-story, 50,000-square-foot expansion. The project houses a new entrance and waiting area for the emergency department, replaces observation and psychiatry units, and cost approximately $45 million.

Howard County General Hospital (HCGH), which serves approximately 220,000 people each year, is the only hospital in the county and often reaches capacity for medical and behavior health units, affecting wait times and overall experience. Emergency room staff (ER) sees nearly 80,000 people each year and 75 percent of hospitals visits come through the ER.

The expansion also includes more beds for the psychiatry unit, including additional private rooms, safety enhancements, patient amenities, modern treatment spaces and a new nurses’ station.

“Howard County General Hospital’s year-over-year increase in admissions was the highest of all of the 23 hospitals in the greater Baltimore region,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “This expansion is critical to provide greater access to health care, more efficient services for our community and ensure all our residents are healthy and thriving for years to come.”


New leader steps up for innovation: Q&A with Chuck Bubeck


Long-time tech executive and entrepreneur Chuck Bubeck is an adept builder, especially since he just sold a Managed Cloud Services Provider, Columbia-based EaseTech, that he and colleagues built from the ground (of his basement) up, then created numerous spinoffs. After that success, he could
have retired but instead he’s now running the Maryland Innovation Center to build a bigger regional powerhouse.

Why did you sell EaseTech?

The company needed to move into another phase of growth. I’d become more deeply involved in the local technology community and this leadership opportunity with the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) became available. The timing is perfect due to pent-up demand of the region’s businesses, the need to lower silos and to get various professionals to interact and embrace innovation.

How did you start your career?

My family moved here in 1969 and I grew up in Columbia. In the late ‘70s, I started working at one of the first computer stores. I then started my first company at age 25, Columbia Micro Systems with none of the business resources available today. Then in 1983, Apple hired me as a systems engineer right as the Mac was being introduced.

How did EaseTech grow?

In 1993, I started EaseTech in my Columbia basement. After a couple of years, we moved to the Merrill Lynch building in Downtown Columbia. That’s when we started creating software for Alex. Brown & Sons after working for them on trading floors. We also worked in the legal industry when we created document management systems for large firms. It was called StarLaw, which we also spun off into various subsidiaries. We later got very involved in cloud computing at EaseTech, which eventually grew to more than 50 employees.

What made you want to continue in the local tech community?

I grew up in Columbia when it was a smaller place and I liked that community approach. It was the same thing at Apple during the Mac vs. PC days. Apple was the underdog and it created a mission. I want to bridge people together again in that community fashion.

What do you tell innovators when they hit roadblocks?

It’s important to talk to others who have been there. That’s part of what our innovation center is about. We’ve got other entrepreneurs here to offer assistance as well as representatives from SCORE, The Kaufman Institute and state commerce represemtatives who are here to offer support. That option wasn’t available when I started EaseTech; we were just winging it.

EaseTech sold spinoff products to more than 100 investment banks. Can you create similar success at the Innovation Center?

With startups, you must identify the problem before you come up with a solution. In other words, many people get an idea for a solution who don’t really understand the problem. That sounds simple but finding real solutions is harder.

What was the genesis of your organization’s name?

We’re using the term innovation in our name because the word “technology” can be exclusive to some. On that note, you’ll soon see a rebranding of our organization and we will lose some acronyms. We want to pitch a big canvas tent and are talking to other organizations around the region to create a strong innovation community that isn’t bound by geography or specialty.

Is there a certain product area you’ll focus on?

No. Our goal is to look at innovation as a topic that does not have a vertical foundation. It doesn’t have to have an app or be about coding. Innovation can be a process, a sensor that records ship pollutants or a smart sprinkler that saves water.

What is available to innovators in Maryland?

We have world class educational offerings and workforces as well as proximity to the federal government that provides extra synergy. The diversity of our region is part of that, especially in Columbia. The only thing Silicon Valley has over us is a funny TV show on HBO.

How will you collaborate with the regional business community?

Share with them that we want to tear down the moss-covered silos and that we are not competing for members. The way to bring them in is to share connections and offer ourselves as a regional hub and as innovators for the region, state and beyond. We don’t want any borders or over protection of member communities.

What will the Innovation Center do differently?

We want to stress that while cyber is a key component of the local innovation mix, there are numerous other areas that are just as important, such as health tech, artificial intelligence, agri-technology and many others. We don’t have to be identified by a single tech vertical. Cybersecurity is a horizontal sector as much as it is a vertical, as it’s integral in any innovation.

What is your greatest challenge?

Fighting through the tough times. For instance, when I founded EaseTech none of us got a paycheck for more than a year and I remember chasing the mailman for a check more than once. It got to the point where I had a wife, three young kids and Labrador retriever, plus close to 10 people working out of my basement. That meant it was time to get an office. It all ended well but my wife who supported me chasing my dreams. It’s all worked out better than expected so far.

What is your greatest success?

Working with some of the brightest and dedicated people. While at Apple, I was surrounded by some of the most incredible talent who were accelerated by the culture. I took those concepts and instincts into my other startups and made sure I always surrounded myself with people at the top of their game, many smarter than me, who always worked even better as a team.

This Q&A was originally published in our January 2020 issue, http://online.fliphtml5.com/byfyt/oeur/#p=1.

Howard Hughes opens search for Artist-in-Residence program


The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) announces the return of the Merriweather District Artist-in-Residence (MD AIR) program in Downtown Columbia, MD for 2020. The Call for Entry for prospective participants is being disseminated nationwide.

 In partnership with the Howard County Arts Council, the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC) and Soulful Symphony, fours artists will be selected from submitted entries and provided a stipend of $12,000 each to spend up to two months, from May 18 to June 30.

Contemporary Art x Technology Artist (3 Artists):

The MD AIR program will select up to three artists who specifically produce work that integrate art, innovation and technology. The highest priority will be given to artists who work within this medium.

Music x Technology Artist (1 Artist):

MD AIR has expanded the program in 2020 to include a new and 4th residency position that is sponsored by the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC) and Soulful Symphony. The artist selected for this position will have studio space with the three artists, as well as, the opportunity for mentorship and collaboration with Darin Atwater, the Artist Director of DCACC and founder of Soulful Symphony.

The Studio space will be provided in the 6100 Merriweather, a new office building in Downtown Columbia’s Merriweather District.  Residential accommodations will be provided within walking distance at Juniper, the district’s latest residential building. MD AIR applications will remain open until Tuesday, Jan. 28.  For further information, visit www.hocoarts.submittable.com

Cutline: During the 2019 Artist-in-Residence Program, Katherine Tzu-Lann worked on murals for the studio shared with the other artists.

Superintendent presents 2020 State of HCPSS


On Jan. 16, Superintendent Michael Martirano presented the State of the Howard County Public School System at an event hosted by Bright Minds, HCPSS’ educational foundation. Martirano celebrated accomplishments by teachers and staff, and detailed the collective work occurring to fulfill the targeted outcomes of HCPSS’ equity-based Strategic Call to Action.

Martirano covered HCPSS’ priorities to develop and implement a birth-to-12 continuum, aimed to ensure that 100% of Howard County students earn a high school diploma and are prepared to enter life after high school. The school system continues its focus on key areas that include special education, personalized learning, well-being and mental health, restorative practices and student voice.

HCPSS has completed the largest redistricting process in Howard County’s history, the advancement of the proposed Capital and Operating budgets, and finalizing a plan to eliminate the Health Fund Deficit. These four areas are inextricably linked and augmented by current initiatives in restorative practices; supporting children and families struggling with poverty, mental illness and other needs; and other priorities.

Martirano also celebrated HCPSS’ many accomplishments, including Howard County’s 92% graduation rate, which continues to be the highest in the state among large districts. At the same time, the superintendent noted that some student groups lag behind their peers and re-emphasized the importance of focusing on equity to bridge the gap for children at risk of falling behind, beginning at birth.

On Jan. 14, Martirano provided a preview of the State of the Howard County Public School System to the Board of Education, which can be viewed at https://hcpsstv.new.swagit.com/videos/39490#.

Black Bears partner with Fence and Deck Connection


The Maryland Black Bears announced Fence & Deck Connection will be the team’ Official Fence and Deck Sponsor. Included in the partnership, the Black Bears will hold a Fence & Deck Connection Night on Feb. 29 when they host the Blue Ribbon Project. The Blue Ribbon Project is a 100% volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization based in Anne Arundel County. The organization is committed to both the prevention of child abuse and neglect and as a support network for survivors of child abuse, foster care and child sexual assault.

Additionally, Fence & Deck Connection’s logo is featured on a dasher board in the Piney Orchard Ice Arena and the Black Bears website. The company has provided safety gates in the arena’s SkyDeck, increasing fan safety and maximizing the quality of Black Bears’ game-day experience.


Site search for Howard High School No. 14 continues


Progress toward identifying the future site of High School no. 14 is continuing as Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) of the Timbers at Troy and Troy Hill Park properties were released, evaluating the environmental condition of each potential location. The ESA was performed in addition to a feasibility study by the Department of Recreation and Parks, showing there is sufficient developable space at both sites to fit the required elements.

The Elkridge High School Task Force previously proposed a location off Route 1, at 6571 Washington Boulevard, but it would require assembling six privately-owned parcels that are not currently for sale, more than 44 acres. This site location was not considered practical, due to the logistics and cost of acquiring the land.

The initial goal of the ESA was to determine whether current or historical activity at the Timbers at Troy and Troy Hill Park sites pose any potential environmental concern. After Phase I of the ESA was concluded, which included a records review, site reconnaissance, interviews and a report, Phase II was initiated to investigate the environmental concerns identified. Phase II included environmental sampling and evaluation of the sampling results. While the Phase II ESA recommended that measures be taken to address environmental issues at each site, both sites were found to be acceptable for their intended use, per the Maryland Department of the Environment requirements and the Environmental Protection Agency School Siting Guidelines (EPA 2011a).

In collaboration with the Greater Elkridge Community Association (GECA), the county will provide a presentation at the GECA meeting on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m., at the Elkridge Fire Department, 5700 Rowanberry Drive, to discuss the findings of the ESA study and next steps for identifying the location for High School no. 14.

The full reports for Phase I Timbers at Troy, Phase II Timbers at Troy, Phase I Troy Hill Park, and Phase II Troy Hill Park are accessible online, beginning with https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=XMAXscEIp-k%3d&portalid=0&timestamp=1579183565649.


Howard County developing permit process for scooter sharing


Howard County is developing a permit process to allow electric scooter sharing companies to operate in public areas, such as pathways, streets, sidewalks and bike lanes, based on best practices and experiences of Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.

To enable the permit process and fee, Howard County is pursuing legislation to update the County Code that is currently under consideration by the County Council, as Council Bill C3-2020. The update will also add the definition of electric low speed scooters, bringing the County Code into agreement with the State Code.

“[During] the past year, we have worked towards a more multi-modal community by funding $2.2 million for bicycle infrastructure projects, passing complete streets legislation, expanding RTA bus hours and routes and now developing a permitting process for electric scooters,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “We’re planning ahead to ensure that when scooters do arrive, they are safe, accessible and work within our current infrastructure.”

The electric scooter sharing system permit process will be managed by the Howard County Office of Transportation and is expected to begin in May. The permit will dictate the parameters that the scooter sharing companies must operate under, including the speed of the scooters, where they can be parked, minimum and maximum quantities, operator response time, data sharing, insurance requirements and permit fees.

Scooter sharing companies have recently expressed interest in operating in Howard County, specifically in the areas of Downtown Columbia and Gateway Business Park. In preparing for scooters, the county has reached out to major landowners and destinations in the Columbia and Columbia Gateway area to address their concerns and the county plans to work with other stakeholders on this new program.

For more information, contact the Howard County Office of Transportation, 410-313-4312, transportation@howardcountymd.gov.

EN Engineering signs for BWI Tech Park

811 Pinnacle Dr.

EN Engineering, a nationally engineering, consulting and automation services firm, has signed a lease with St. John Properties, Inc. for 29,000 square feet of space within 811 Pinnacle Drive, which represents an expansion from its existing 17,850 square foot space within Quarterfield Center in Glen Burnie.

The company intends to relocate approximately 100 employees to the single-story 48,120-square-foot flex/R&D building in BWI Tech Park, near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, during the first quarter of 2020. EN Engineering works primarily in the utilities, industrial and pipeline industries to restore and expand infrastructure, enhance and streamline systems and identify and record key assets. It was named by Engineering News-Record as among the top 100 design firms in the country.            

“The central Maryland region features a strong concentration of highly-skilled engineers and we continue to attract the qualified professionals necessary to fuel our on-going growth and momentum,” explained Keith Johnson, Sr. Vice President of EN Engineering.

Planet Fitness coming to Columbia


Planet Fitness – one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers with more members than any other fitness brand – will open a club in Howard County this March. The 16,776-square-foot facility will open in Dobbin Center at 6475-101 H East Dobbin Road, Columbia.

The new locations will be the 41st Planet Fitness club in Maryland and the 32nd owned and operated by PF Growth Partners, of Timonium. The location will be open and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Columbia club will offer state-of-the-art cardio machines and strength equipment, 30-Minute Express Circuit, fully equipped locker rooms with day lockers and showers, numerous flat screen televisions, HydroMassage beds, massage chairs, tanning beds, a Total Body Enhancement booth and more.


Westfield Annapolis site to become retail district


Work is underway at Westfield Annapolis on the transformation of the property’s long-vacated 110,000-square-foot former Lord & Taylor department store site into a vibrant new shopping district comprising stylish boutiques, home design stores and new experience-driven offerings slated to open to the public in 2021.

To improve the customer journey at the center, the project will include an airy new pedestrian gallery connecting the property’s Macy’s store to its Pottery Barn and Nordstrom wings, which is expected to open by September 2020. The renovation will also create a new double-height architectural exterior entrance, approximately 40 feet high and located alongside Bestgate Road, featuring glass and metal paneling, as well as providing visitors a more convenient point of entry to access the new offerings.

The upcoming enhancement of the Westfield Annapolis experience comes alongside a series of new arrivals to the center, including Rodizio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse and a soon-to-open Retro Fitness gym.

As much of the work on the project will occur within the confines of the former department store space, the impact on Westfield Annapolis’ guests and visitors during the months ahead will be limited. Shops and restaurants will remain open for business throughout the process.

The center will also welcome in February 2020 the opening of a new permanent, expanded location for Anne Arundel County’s Discoveries: The Library at the Mall, providing dedicated learning spaces for teens and young children; as well as more books, computers, and seating lounges than have been available in the temporary library that is already open at the center.

The nearly 13,000 square-foot-facility will hold a kid’s preview day on Monday, Feb. 17, and host a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 11:30 a.m. It will open in the former Charlotte Russe and American Eagle stores, near Crate & Barrel. Discoveries: The Library at the Mall boasts the highest program attendance among all 16 libraries and has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors since its opening on April 30, 2018. The current location will close on February 10.

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