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Springtime happenings around town

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Eager to leave your house – not to mention the cold weather and the coronavirus – behind? Here’s a preview of spring and summer events and places to visit to have fun and support local small businesses.

Clarksville Commons:  A fruit with a view

Movie night at Clarksville Commons.

The farmers market is returning to Clarksville Commons every Saturday beginning May 1 with increased participation from local famers and several local bakers, too.

“In addition, we have added more than a dozen half-time and monthly local food and craft vendors to participate throughout the season,” said Anastasia MacDonald, director of Community Relations for Clarksville Commons.

Clarksville Commons is also the first and only market in Howard County to offer “Maryland Market Money.”

The program allows Clarksville Commons to match up to $5 per household, per market day, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-eligible foods.

“Having easy access to local, fresh, healthy food is so important. We hope that being part of this program allows members of our community greater access to not just the food, but the farmers that grow it,” shared Holly Stone, who along with her husband George Stone, are the principal developers of Clarksville Commons.

Also in May, Clarksville Commons is bringing back its free weekly Friday night live music concerts and its free outdoor family movie every Wednesday evening in July and August.

“Our community’s safety is a priority so we will continue to adhere to the CDC and Howard County guidelines to offer events that we believe can provide the proper distancing,” said MacDonald.

The businesses at the Commons have received tremendous support from their clients and customers over the past year and all the business owners are grateful and encouraged by that, MacDonald added.

“The local government, chamber of commerce, and Howard County Tourism support of small businesses has also been critical,” she said. “While emergency funds have been key to keeping many doors open, access to advertising and information has helped many to reach a larger audience without additional expense.”

Blossoms of Hope:  A bloomin’ good cause

The traditional Blossoms of Hope array of activities to raise awareness and money for cancer has a new twist this year: a Scavenger Hunt that begins April 5 and runs through May 5.

“Spring is finally here and most of us are ready to get out of the house but not ready to immerse ourselves back into the crowds,” said Vera Simmons, director of Community Outreach and Events.

She said, “The Scavenger Hunt is a great way to get out, explore our beautiful groves, and spend time with your family in a COIVD-friendly way while hunting for clues.”

The hunt is scheduled for when the local kwanzan cherry blossom trees will be in bloom.

“Just registering puts you in the drawing for some great prizes from Blossoms including a visit from Santa, a Power of the Purse lottery ticket and much more,” said Simmons.

Also coming up: two traditional Blossoms events, the Pink Greens Golf Classic on May 13 at Waverly Woods, and Power of the Purse. Now deemed “Power of the Purse v 2.1,” it’s a designer purse lottery based on Maryland Pick 3.

“You buy lottery numbers and, if your number comes up anytime in the month of June, you win a purse bundle,” said Simmons.

African Art Museum:  41 in ’21

In a quiet but determined fashion, the African Art Museum of Maryland, located in the Long Reach Village Center, has reopened its doors Thursdays through Saturdays.

Co-founder Doris Ligon has a favorite African saying: “One will tell one hundred.”

That’s why she’s grateful when one or two people drop by the museum, and she can show them around.

“If you can make a difference in just one person’s day, and they’re treated well, they’re going to tell 100 other people,” she said. “They’ll bring friends. They’ll bring relatives.”

Whenever anyone comes into the museum, Ligon considers it an opportunity to demonstrate hospitality.

“If you understand what people have created, you have a better understanding of the people who created it,” she said. “You’ll find that there are more similarities than differences regardless of what scholarly journals say.”

After canceling events including Grandparent’s Day, jazz music, fundraisers, and special exhibits – many of them planned around the museum’s 40th anniversary – the museum is moving ahead with the slogan “41 in ’21.”

Ligon hopes to plan some small, in-person events during 2021, along with an important milestone:

“I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren since August,” she said. “I’m going to do just that.”

Old Ellicott City:  Walkable and paintable

The sidewalks of Old Ellicott City are starting to teem with people out for a stroll, ducking into the many small shops or grabbing a bite to eat.

Always a center for creative thinking, if you stroll down those sidewalks on June 10-13, you’ll see artists at work, easels at the ready, and the creative process in action.

Paint It! Ellicott City is open to juried and other painters who want to capture the picturesque mill town and all its charms.

And, as we all process the past year of unprecedented suffering for so many people, artists are even more important in our lives, said Elli Hernandez, gallery and programs coordinator for the Howard County Arts Council.

“Artists in general are wonderful at expressing complex emotions and thoughts through their work,” said Hernandez. “At a time when so many of us experiencing mental and physical strain from isolation and the pandemic, our local artists help us stay connected to one another. They remind us to stay positive and look for the beauty in everyday life.”

By Susan Kim | Staff Writer | The Business Monthly | April 2021 Issue

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Recently awarded government contracts

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The following information is regarding awarded contracts can be used to develop prime contractor, subcontractor and teaming partner relationships on these and other opportunities. The website for each awardee is also provided. For more information, contact TargetGov: 410-579-1346 x 325.

Solution Engineering Associates Inc., Lexington Park, was awarded a $17,267,060 contract to provide engineering and technical support services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Flight Control and Flight Dynamics programs for The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, MD. http://www.seaincusa.com/contact_us

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory LLC, Laurel, was awarded a $49,781,735 contract for a variety of technical areas associated with high-speed precision munitions for the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Newark, New Jersey. https://www.jhuapl.edu/OurWork/PartnerandSupplierResources

Phoenix International Holdings Inc., Largo, was awarded a $20,000,000 contract for worldwide undersea deep ocean search and recovery operations to support the Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving at The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. http://www.phnx-international.com/phnx/small-business-subcontracting-policy-statement/

Unity Technologies Corp., Myersville, has been awarded a $24,000,000 contract for professional support services for the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. https://unitytec.com/partnerships.html

Amentum Service Inc., Germantown, has been awarded a $18,308,694 contract to provide program support for Air Combat Command’s Unmanned Aircraft System Operations Center Support, for the US Airforce Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. https://www.amentum.com/supplier-diversity/

Eagle Systems Inc., California, was awarded a $26,903,222 contract to provide engineering, technical, administrative and program management support services for The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, MD. http://www.eaglesystems.net/contact-eagle-systems/

Garcia Information Systems Corp., White Plains, was awarded an $8,095,830 contract for engineering, technical, administrative, and programmatic management support for total life cycle management under the Joint Program Office  for The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division, Indian Head, MD. http://www.garciainfosys.com/contact.htm

BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Rockville, was awarded a $140,430,072 contract providing systems engineering and equipment installation support services of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence systems from the the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Webster Outlying Field Integrated Command, Control and Intel Division Patuxent River, MD. https://www.baesystems.com/en-us/our-company/bae-systems-inc/us-suppliers/us-supplier-diversity

Grunley Construction Co. Inc., Rockville, was awarded a $16,690,000 contract to design, build and construct a control tower and fire day station for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, MD. https://www.grunley.com/subcontractors

Smartronix, Inc., Hollywood, was awarded a $24,941,306 contract providing enterprise-wide information technology and cyber security (IT/CS) services to the Naval Air Warfare Center, Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD. https://www.smartronix.com/doing-business/small-business.html

Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov, American Express Procurement Advisor and a national expert in business development in the government markets.  Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.

 

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Federal updates for small businesses, changes in WOSB set- aside rules

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Gloria Larkin

Owners and employees of government contractors and small businesses that have been – and presume that that they still are – certified for a procurement set aside under the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and/or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) Program, read on.

Know that your verification was approved under a certain set of rules. And that those rules have changed. Without your knowing it.

In this case, a class deviation supersedes and revises Class Deviation 2021- O0002, which was issued on Dec. 17, 2020. It provides an updated email (WOSBpendingcertification@sba.gov) for contracting officers at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to verify the eligibility of the apparently successful offeror for a procurement set aside under the WOSB Program when that offeror has a pending application. To learn more, visit the new web site at https://beta.certify.sba.gov.

Staying proactive in this case is imperative. Contracting officers need to verify in the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) that the specific contractor is designated as an EDWOSB or as a WOSB, therefore eligible for the program; otherwise, a concern is not eligible for a set-aside or sole-source award. The DSBS is available at https://web.sba.gov/pro-net/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm.

EIDL Limit Rises

Given the length of the pandemic, the SBA has increased the maximum amount small businesses and nonprofit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

The loan limit for the program has risen from six months of economic injury, with a maximum loan amount of $150,000; to up to 24 months of economic injury, with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.

The even better news is that struggling businesses that receive a loan subject to the current limits do not need to submit a request for an increase; the SBA will reach out directly via email (if it has not already) and provide more details about how businesses can request an increase.

Also, any new loan applications and any loans in process as the new limits have been implemented will automatically be considered.

This new relief builds on SBA’s March 12 announcement that the agency would extend deferment periods for all disaster loans (including COVID-19 EIDLs) until 2022 to offer more time for businesses to build back.

More than 3.7 million businesses employing more than 20 million people have found financial relief through EIDLs.

New PPP Regs

The SBA has published another interim final rule that revised Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidelines to incorporate the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act’s amendments to the PPP. Additionally, it clarifies the eligibility for first draw PPP loans for applicants that are assigned a North American Industry Classification System code beginning with 72 and have

more than one physical location, as well as clarifying certain payroll cost exclusions included in the Economic Aid Act.

A key takeaway from the amended guidelines is that the PPP loan calculation formula has been revised to allow businesses and individuals that had been shutout from receiving assistance, notably sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals, to receive more financial support.

The rule changes also allocate $1 billion in PPP funds for these types of businesses in low-and moderate-income areas.

For background, the Maryland Bankers Association recently stated that more than 120,000 PPP loans totaling about $13 billion have been deployed in the state. The vast majority of the loans were made by banks and supported more than one million small business and nonprofit jobs statewide.

For assistance, call 833-572-0502 or your local SBA Field Office. The list of offices can be found at www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.

Gloria Larkin is a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com.

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Anne Arundel, City of Annapolis provide transportation to mass vax site

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley announced a collaborative effort to ensure county residents can access transportation to and from the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium mass vaccination site. 

“Anne Arundel County has prioritized our most vulnerable residents throughout the vaccination rollout, and we will continue to do so at the new mass vaccination site by providing free, convenient transportation options for our residents,” said Pittman. “We won’t allow transportation barriers to stand in the way of anyone getting vaccinated. Thank you to the Maryland Department of Health, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, and all our partners for getting this site ready to start vaccinating residents April 15.”

County residents may call the Office of Transportation at 410-222-0225/410-222-0047 to access the county-operated vaccine service and schedule a free ride to their appointment. Operators are available 7 – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday to help residents arrange transportation to their appointment at the stadium site or any other vaccination clinic in the county. 

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Wayfair to bring distribution center, more than 250 new jobs

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Online retail giant Wayfair is bringing a new distribution center and more than 250 jobs to Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan announced Wayfair’s plans to establish an approximately 1.2 million square-foot facility at MRP Industrial’s Eastgate Logistics Park in Aberdeen, where it will add more than 250 new full time jobs over the next six years. Wayfair, one of the world’s largest online destinations for home furnishings, generated $14 billion in net revenue last year and employs more than 16,000 employees throughout North America and Europe.

“We are excited to partner with Wayfair in opening a distribution facility right here in Maryland, which will bring more than 250 new jobs to the region over the next few years,” said Governor Hogan. “We are looking forward to welcoming this successful e-commerce company to our state as Maryland continues to flourish as the Mid-Atlantic distribution hub.”

“As we continue to expand our world class logistics network, our new Maryland fulfillment center in Harford County will further strengthen our ability to serve our rapidly growing customer base,” said Thomas Netzer, chief operating officer of Wayfair. “We look forward to welcoming the area’s top talent to join our award-winning operations team as we bring more than 250 new jobs to the community.”

To assist with project costs, the Maryland Department of Commerce has approved a $750,000 conditional loan through Advantage Maryland, formerly the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF). Additionally, Harford County has approved a $75,000 workforce training grant to assist with growing the company’s workforce. Wayfair is also eligible for various tax credits, including the state’s Job Creation Tax Credit.

“By building this impressive facility in Harford County, Wayfair can easily reach one-third of the country’s population in just an overnight drive,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “Our state’s distribution and logistics sector is supported by not only the Port of Baltimore, but also five major interstates, and several railroads and regional airports, making Maryland’s location accessible and a major advantage for customers across the United States.”

“Harford County is delighted to have a Fortune 500 company join our thriving e-commerce hub in the Perryman Peninsula,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. “Wayfair is a nationally-recognized household brand name—we welcome their investment in the county and state, and the creation of 250 new jobs providing a critical logistics function for the consumer.”

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Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Port Administration renew commitment to environmental initiatives  

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The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the MDOT Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) have renewed and expanded a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to strengthen environmental initiatives at the Helen Delich Bentley’s state-owned, public marine terminals.  

The agreement calls for a continued committed effort to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency at the Port. The pact extends the original MOU signed five years ago by the agencies and adds MEA as a new partner. 

“The public and private partners at the Port of Baltimore show every day that environmental stewardship can and must go hand-in-hand with job expansion and economic growth,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “Reduction of diesel emissions, creative reuse of dredged material and projects like the Howard Street Tunnel expansion – which will increase rail capacity and reduce truck fuel consumption – are elements of our environmental commitment supported by this MOU.”  

As part of the agreement, the participating agencies meet monthly to discuss relevant air quality objectives, share information and collaborate to seek federal funding for air quality enhancement projects. MDE and MEA will provide technical assistance and assist with identifying and applying for both state and federal grants.   

The parties also agreed to enhance climate resiliency and reduce air emissions, furthering policy objectives of Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act against the threat that climate change poses to Maryland. The agreement aims to seek increased input from nearby underserved communities when evaluating projects and programs to implement.    

The project to expand the 126-year-old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, which could begin construction late this year, will allow for double-stacked container trains to and from the Port of Baltimore. The project will increase container capacity and business at the Port. Over 30 years, it will help avoid 1.2 billion truck vehicle miles traveled and reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 137 million gallons. 

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U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen direct more than $68M from American Rescue Plan to Marylanders  

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U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone (all Md.) announced more than $68 million in American Rescue Plan funding to help families keep roofs over their heads and to prevent homelessness throughout Maryland amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The American Rescue Plan provides $5 billion nationally for state and local governments to finance supportive services, affordable housing and non-congregate shelter for hundreds of thousands of Americans experiencing homelessness. 

The funding will primarily benefit: 

  •  Individuals or households that are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.
  •  People fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault or human trafficking.
  • Individuals or families who are currently homeless or at high risk of housing instability.
  •  Households with a veteran family member at risk of homelessness, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or human trafficking.

The funding includes: 

  •  $23,971,559 for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to distribute to counties that do not receive a direct allocation.
  • $2,800,473 for Anne Arundel County
  •  $1,757,012 for Howard County

Last year, the lawmakers announced more than $48 million in CARES Act funding to help counties and cities in Maryland respond to the economic and housing impacts of COVID-19. 

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Ruppersberger, Van Hollen fund childcare, Head Start  

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Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen today highlighted more than $515 million to help Maryland childcare providers keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was provided by the recently-passed American Rescue Plan and included more than $11 million for Maryland’s Head Start early childhood development centers. 

Maryland childcare centers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, operating at significantly reduced capacity while facing unforeseen costs for sanitization and personal protective equipment. Nearly 80 percent of childcare providers reported a financial loss due to COVID-19 and almost half said they may close permanently if children stay home another six months, according to the Maryland Family Network. 

In addition to direct stimulus payments, the American Rescue Plan Maryland families with children with also see benefits through an enhanced Child Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for 2021. The legislation also includes funding for nutrition programs and eviction protections. Combined, the bill is expected to lift 52,000 Maryland children out of poverty. 

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Howard County Public School System to strengthen infrastructure for hybrid learning model 

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The Howard County Government and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) have collaborated to make a series of infrastructure enhancements needed to sustain the hybrid learning model.  

These enhancements significantly increase the bandwidth available in schools, allowing for the continued use of Google Meet video tools to provide instruction to students who participate virtually in instruction simultaneously with students in the classroom. The county and the HCPSS implemented several strategies to increase internet bandwidth and mitigate potential problems. The measures taken include: 

  • Doubling the bandwidth available to HCPSS by splitting network traffic into two additional internet pipelines
  • Partnering with Network Maryland to increase the amount of internet access available to HCPSS
  • Transitioning most elementary schools to Howard County Government’s network for Google Meet sessions, reducing the impact on the HCPSS network
  • Establishing a new fiber internet connection prior to the return of the final cohort to in-person instruction
  • Adjusting Howard County Government processes to make additional bandwidth available for HCPSS 

Additionally, HCPSS has blocked access to non-instructional video streaming sites, reduced Google Meet video quality while still meeting acceptable standards and collaborated with the County to optimize the Google Meet video configuration.  

HCPSS has not experienced problems related to inadequate bandwidth availability since the return of students to in-person hybrid instruction. 

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Dive Bar & Grill to open at Savage Mill

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Dive Bar & Grille, a family-owned business out of Pennsylvania, will open its sixth location and its first in Maryland at Historic Savage Mill.

The new restaurant will lease the 9,000-square-foot space in the Carding Building formerly occupied by the Rams Head Tavern; Owner Clint Kuskie said he is investing $450,000 in a refresh of the building, including new furniture, floors, etc. It will span all three levels of the interior, as well as the courtyard terrace and the riverside deck.

Opening is planned for June 2021. Watch the April 9th announcement HERE.

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