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Jordan named president of regional SIOR Chapter

Kate Jordan, principal of Lee & Associates | Maryland, has been elected president of the Maryland, District of Columbia and Northern Virginia Chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS (SIOR).

The local chapter of the national organization encompasses the District of Columbia, the state of Maryland and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Manassas within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jordan also serves as Vice President for NAIOP Maryland, which represents the interests of the commercial real estate industry throughout the state.

Jordan becomes the third female to hold this distinction for the local SIOR Chapter and, nationally, there are currently three women presidents among the 48 chapters.


Tenable: pandemic blamed for higher cyber risk

Columbia-based Tenable has published a global industry study that revealed 74% of organizations attribute recent business-impacting cyberattacks to vulnerabilities in technology put in place during the pandemic.

The data is drawn from ‘Beyond Boundaries: The Future of Cybersecurity in the New World of Work,’ a commissioned study of more than 1,300 security leaders, business executives and remote employees conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable.

From cloud services and applications to personal devices and remote access tools, the corporate attack surface exploded in record time. Difficulty managing the plethora of technologies has made enterprises more vulnerable and propelled cyberattacks.

Moreover, 80 percent of security and business leaders said their organizations are more exposed to risk as a result of remote work. This exposure was largely driven by three factors:

  • Enabling a workforce without boundaries:More than half of remote workers access customer data using a personal device, yet 71 percent of security leaders lack high or complete visibility into remote employee home networks. This gap is well understood by bad actors, as reflected in the fact that 67 percent of business-impacting cyberattacks targeted remote employees.
  • Expanding the software supply chain:65 percent of security and business leaders attribute recent cyberattacks to a third-party software compromise; 61 percent report increased risk due to their expanded software supply chain.
  • Migrating to the cloud:80 percent of security and business leaders believe moving business-critical functions to the cloud elevated their risk; 62 percent of organizations suffered business-impacting attacks involving cloud assets.

“Remote and hybrid work strategies are here to stay and so are the risks they introduce unless organizations get a handle on what their new attack surface looks like,” said Amit Yoran, CEO, Tenable. “This study reveals two paths forward – one riddled with unmanaged risk and unrelenting cyberattacks and another that accelerates business productivity and operations in a secure way. CISOs and CEOs have the opportunity and responsibility to securely harness the power of technology and manage cyber risk for the new world of work.”

Hybrid work models and a digital-first economy have brought cybersecurity front and center as a critical investment that can make or break short- and long-term business strategies. To address this demand, two-thirds or more of security leaders plan to increase their cybersecurity investments over the next 12 to 24 months, with roughly three-quarters planning to spend more on vulnerability management and cloud security.

What’s more, understanding the profound risks created by talent shortages, 64 percent of leaders lacking staff plan to invest within by increasing their teams’ headcount over the next 12 months.

To read the full study, visit www.tenable.com/analyst-research/forrester-cyber-risk-report-2021.


Financial report, audit reflect HCPSS advancements

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has received an unmodified opinion from its external auditor, CohnReznick, which is included in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal 2021.

The unmodified opinion of HCPSS financial statements certifies that the auditor found no internal control findings in financial management and that all audited financial statements, in all material respects, were found to be in accordance with applicable financial reporting framework.

As the first report over the past 10 years to show zero auditor findings or adverse opinions, the fiscal 2022 audit and CAFR represent a significant milestone reflecting HCPSS’s focus on and strategic approach to improving the financial management of the school system and eliminating the historical deficit in the HCPSS Health and Dental Fund.

The health fund deficit decreased by $9 million, from $18.7 to $9.7 million for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2021. With the county’s $10 million appropriation included in the fiscal 2022 budget, the elimination of the deficit is anticipated to occur this fiscal year subject to insurance claims incurred, and will be reported in the fiscal 2022 CAFR in September 2022.

The CAFR notes a $36.8 million Unassigned Fund Balance as of June 30, which primarily resulted from significant savings in student transportation costs, lower utility expenses, less substitute and temporary wages paid, grant funds received, and other areas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full report will be posted on www.hcpss.org/about-us/financial-reports.


Redistricting Commission announces public meeting

The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission (Citizens Commission), a balanced commission created by Governor Larry Hogan to draw fair and representative legislative and Congressional district maps for the 2022 elections, will begin its third round of virtual meetings on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. Maryland citizens are encouraged to join the meeting.

During round three, the Citizens Commission will present the final drafts of its maps to the public. Round three meetings will also allow Marylanders to comment and discuss the proposed legislative and Congressional maps drawn by the Citizens Commission, which will be posted at redistricting.maryland.gov by Oct. 5. These maps were created following 29 public meetings that have occurred since May 5 and took into account 69 maps that were submitted by the public.

The meeting, which includes closed captioning and live Spanish translation, will conclude upon the completion of testimony from the last speaker or discussion by the Citizens Commission.

The user-friendly map portal has reopened and Marylanders are able to submit additional maps based on the Commission’s updated legislative and Congressional maps as the Citizens Commission continues its work to submit final proposed maps to Hogan.

This is the third and final round of public meetings – the first round was a listening tour to discuss redistricting in general; the second round involved the discussion of proposed Citizens Commission redistricting maps as well as citizen submitted redistricting maps; and this round will allow for discussion and testimony of further developed legislative and congressional maps.

Round three public meetings will be held at 6 p.m. each Wednesday evening in October.

The meeting will be streamed in both English and Spanish. Participants can also dial in by calling 301-715-8592 and entering the webinar I.D. 852 2275 6132, and can submit comments electronically or send a redistricting question to redistricting.commission@maryland.gov


Gaming Commission publishes sports betting comments

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) has published comments on the state’s sports wagering regulations that were submitted by sports wagering stakeholders and interested members of the public during a recently concluded 30-day public comment period.

The regulations (COMAR 36.10.01 through 36.10.18) were approved by the MLGCC on July 15 and by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review on Aug. 5.

The regulations were published in the Maryland Register on Aug. 27 (see pages 718-781) and the required 30-day comment period ran from Aug. 27 through Sept. 27. Comments were accepted in writing via regular, first-class mail, email or a submission form on mdgaming.com. Stakeholders and members of the public also had the opportunity to comment on the regulations during a public meeting held Sept. 22.

All written comments received during the 30-day comment period are available to view on the Sports Wagering Public Comments page of mdgaming.com, along with a list of all individuals who submitted comments, a list of attendees at the Sept. 22 public comment meeting, and an audio recording of that meeting.

The MLGCC and Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff are reviewing all comments received, and any amendments to the regulations recommended by staff will be presented for the MLGCC’s approval at its next regular monthly meeting at 10 a.m. on Oct. 21 at the Montgomery Park Business Center in Baltimore. A live video stream of the meeting will be available via mdgaming.com.


Standard Industries completes acquisition of Grace

Standard Industries Holdings, a privately-held global industrial company, has completed its acquisition of Columbia-based W. R. Grace & Co. for $70 per share in cash.

“We are thrilled to welcome Grace to the Standard Industries family,” said David Millstone and David Winter, co-CEOs of Standard Industries. “We look forward to working with the talented team at Grace to advance our commitment to sustainable modern industrialism, as well as to fuel innovation and continued success for Grace’s customers, employees and the communities in which the company operates.”

“Today marks an exciting new chapter for Grace,” said Grace President and CEO Hudson La Force. “As part of Standard Industries, Grace will be even better positioned to provide innovative and sustainable technologies to create value for our customers. We’re very pleased to have successfully completed this transaction and delivered significant value to our shareholders.”

As Standard Industries announced on Aug. 31, La Force will continue as CEO until the end of the year, when he will join Standard’s advisory board. Bhavesh (Bob) Patel, who currently serves as CEO of LyondellBasell, will succeed La Force as CEO of Grace in January 2022.

The transaction was announced on April 26, and received approval from Grace shareholders on Sept. 17. As a result of the transaction completion, Grace is now a privately held company that will operate as a standalone company within Standard Industries, which also includes the industry leading businesses GAF, BMI, GAF Energy, Siplast, Schiedel and SGI.


Howard Exec seeks public input on ARP early funding

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball launched a community engagement plan, including a community survey, seeking feedback from residents and businesses on how to utilize American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal funding.

Howard County was allocated $63.2 million in federal ARP funding, the first half of which will be available for use this fiscal year. Ball also shared early initiatives that will be funded by ARP, including hazard pay, body-worn cameras, and foreclosure prevention.

In addition to the community survey, Ball announced the following community engagement efforts:

  • public ARP virtual hearing scheduledfor Sept. 29, at 6 p.m.
  • Several stakeholder engagement meetings being scheduled throughout the month of October
  • And a presentation to the Howard County Council on Nov. 3, 2021, at 1 p.m.

Since late June, the County has been actively engaged in assessing evolving federal eligibility guidelines and developing proposals for spending American Rescue Plan funding, with more than 200 proposals currently being evaluated at a value of nearly $200 million. The community survey is part of the County’s efforts to engage the community on the highest and best uses of available funding.

“I want to applaud the County Executive and the administration for taking a very thoughtful approach to this important investment coming from the federal government,” said former County Executive and HoCo RISE Collaborative Chair Ken Ulman. “We all know that Howard County, especially coming out of this pandemic will have significant needs, and there are a lot of competing pressures on those needs, so it’s more important than ever to have community engagement and thoughtful approach to how we invest these funds. Thank you to the County Executive and his team for the foresight to create the HoCo Rise Collaborative about a year ago, to really think through the challenges brought to the forefront and how we can solve them equitably and inclusively.”

American Rescue Plan funding has already been allocated to the following early initiatives:

Earlier this month, the County submitted its initial Recovery Plan – which outlined a path forward for continued response and recovery from the pandemic. The plan includes early initiatives for the use of funding such as:

  • Providing services to disproportionately impacted communities,
  • Addressing the negative economic impacts of the pandemic experienced by our residents and businesses,
  • Supporting our front-line workers who have put themselves at risk, and
  • Improving County infrastructure gaps highlighted by the pandemic.

More details about the American Rescue Plan, the community engagement plan, and initial Recovery Plan can be found online at www.howardcountymd.gov/arp.

The vision laid out in the initial Recovery Plan submission builds on the recommendations laid out in the HoCo RISE Collaborative Report, which outlined a path forward for continued response and recovery from the pandemic this past March.


HCPSS board approves fiscal ‘23 capital budget request

The Howard County Board of Education approved its Capital Budget Request for the July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023 fiscal year (fiscal 2023) and Priority Listing of the fiscal 2023 State Capital Budget Request, following a public hearing and work session on the capital budget during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 23.

The board’s fiscal 2023 Capital Budget Request totals $99.5 million. Major items included in the request include costs for New High School #13, scheduled to open in September 2023; a renovation and addition at Hammond High School, scheduled for completion in September 2023; systemic renovations and ongoing systemic line items; and ongoing project lines to address various needs of the school system such as relocatable classrooms, roof projects, and planning and design.

The Board’s request amended the superintendent’s proposed Capital Budget Long-Range Master Plan by advancing the first year of funding for the Oakland Mills Middle School renovation/addition project from fiscal 2027 to fiscal 2024, adding a renovation at Oakland Mills High School to receive the first year of funding in fiscal 2026, a renovation project at Jeffers Hill Elementary School, and a renovation and addition at Patapsco Middle School.

The board’s approval of the proposed capital budget represents the first step in the annual capital budget process, which begins well in advance of the school system’s Operating Budget cycle, in order to accommodate deadlines associated with submission of the State Capital Budget.

The board’s Proposal Capital Budget will then be submitted to the Howard County Planning Board and County Council for consideration. Next, the Priority Listing of fiscal 2023 State Capital Budget Request is submitted to the Maryland Interagency Commission on School Construction. On Feb. 17, 2022, the Board will adopt its budget request, which will then be submitted to the County Executive. In May 2022, the County Council will adopt the Howard County Capital Budget, and the Board will adopt the final Capital Budget.


Demand, supply improving for housing market

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay.

Maryland’s August 2021 housing market continued its trajectory in sales figures with average prices rising 8.4 percent in 2021 to $435,798 and median prices rising 10.3 percent to $375,000. Months of inventory stood at 1.1, matching July 2021, yet down from last year’s figure of 1.8. The number of units sold rose 2.9 percent to 9,740, versus 9,462 in 2020.

“As this market continues to grow, August’s data suggests that it’s easing a little, becoming more friendly for first-time homebuyers,” said Dee Dee Miller, Maryland REALTORS president. “We’ve watched the 2021 average sale price inching closer to 2020’s figure, from 19 percent in May to 8.4 percent this August, while at the same time witnessing months of inventory move from 0.9 to 1.1. With prices rising more slowly, it opens up additional possibilities, whether it’s a first-home purchase, second home or even a move across town.”

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has witnessed an easing within the market as well across the United States. According to its latest Weekly Sales Monitor, housing demand is easing while supply shows signs of improvement, narrowing the demand-supply gap. This has moderated the pace of price appreciation, according to NAR research.

“It’s a promising sign,” said Miller, “and while inventory remains tight with houses on the market for only a week before they’re purchased, there’s more that needs to happen to increase housing opportunity for all in Maryland.”


Hogan announces $16.8M to advance bicycle, ped projects

Photo courtesy National Governors Association.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced $16.8 million in grants to support bicycle, pedestrian, and trail improvements through 42 projects across the state. As part of the package, Howard County was awarded $1.1 million in bikeways design funds for a shared-use path network along Ten Oaks Road, Guilford Road, and Route 108 (Clarksville Pike).

When completed, these paths will extend Columbia’s path network to businesses along Clarksville Pike and across Route 32.

The package includes $12.4 million in federal funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), $1 million through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and nearly $3.4 million in state funding through the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program.

The grant programs allow the state to support local partners and create new opportunities to expand Maryland’s transportation network.

The TAP grants provide funding for on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, environmental mitigation efforts, and projects that are part of the Safe Routes to School initiative.

The RTP focuses on investments that improve and preserve the statewide recreational trail network. RTP provides funds for trail construction, enhancement, repairs, and maintenance of land and water trails. The $1,027,997 in RTP awards provides funding to 14 projects, including (among others):

  • $83,491 to construct 2,800 feet of the new Cox Creek Community Trail in the Cox Creek Forested Conservation Easement Area in Anne Arundel County;
  • $63,500 to construct a two-mile natural surface trail connecting the Hollofield area of Patapsco Valley State Park to Sylvan Lane in Ellicott City, Howard County, including a trailhead kiosk and trail markers

MDOT administers the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program, offering grant assistance to local jurisdictions and state agencies to improve safety, enhance multimodal connectivity, and fill missing links in the state’s bicycle network. The $3,382,244 Bikeways Program awards will fund 16 projects, including (among others):

  • $224,000 to design an extension and widening of Poplar Trail in the Annapolis area of Anne Arundel County;
  • $80,625 to install bike racks on Prince George’s County transit vehicles;
  • Various amounts to study and design bicycle connections in Anne Arundel County and other state jurisdictions.

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