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Calvin Ball Wins Howard County Executive Seat

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Democrat Calvin Ball unseated his Republican rival, incumbent Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, in a decisive election victory Tuesday night.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Ball claimed 52.3 percent of the vote, while Kittleman garnered 47.6 percent.

An extension of voting hours in Prince George’s County due to ballot shortages prompted the Maryland Board of Elections to delay the release of county precinct returns throughout the state, leaving Howard County poll watchers in the dark for most of the night.

When the initial precinct tallies were finally released, shortly after 10 p.m., Ball held a notable lead that dipped slightly but was never in doubt.

Scarcely a half hour after the initial numbers were posted, Kittleman arrived at the Democrats’ watch party at Kahler Hall in Columbia to concede his loss and congratulate Ball in person.

“I felt it was the right thing to do,” Kittleman said.

Acknowledging his victory before a jubilant crowd of supporters, Ball read an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” and thanked his wife and daughters for their support.

“We sat down early on and I told them I wanted to serve and I wanted to do more, and it was a family decision,” Ball said. “Today, while it feels like an ending, is just a beginning. This is the beginning of writing the next chapter in our shared community.”

In the county’s council races, Democrat Liz Walsh defeated Republican Raj Kathuria in District 1, and Democrat Opel Jones won in District 2, defeating Republican John Liao. Democrat Christiana Rigby won an uncontested race in District 3, while Democrat Deb Jung bested Republican Lisa Kim to take the District 4 seat. District 5 remained in Republican hands, with David Yungmann defeating Democrat challenger China Williams.

In another county upset, Democrat Marcus Harris defeated incumbent Republican Bill McMahon in the Sheriff’s race.

Anne Arundel Breaks Ground on Three Schools

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Anne Arundel County officials recently took part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for three long-awaited elementary school projects in Edgewater, Annapolis and Glen Burnie. A 2015 facilities utilization study by MGT listed the Tyler Heights, Edgewater and Richard Henry Lee Elementary schools as among the worst in the county for building condition.

In May, Schuh proposed a supplemental budget that included an additional $36 million in funding to accelerate construction in fiscal 2019 for the schools. The budget allowed for a fast-tracked construction time table for these projects, with occupancy dates of September 2021. The projects were made possible through the JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project financing program.

Arundel Announces Revitalization Plan

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has announced a new  (ACR) Fund revitalization initiative designed to target and promote redevelopment within existing developed neighborhoods.

“Encouraging redevelopment in existing areas – especially older or challenged communities – is a win-win across the entire planning, zoning, land use and economic development spectrum,” said Schuh. “The focus is intended to promote economic development and community reinvestment, while preserving existing resource areas by directing development into revitalization areas and away from green field areas.”

Lynn Miller will lead the joint initiative of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. (AAEDC) and the county’s Office of Planning & Zoning, where she has served as assistant planning and zoning officer for the past three years. The ACR offers loans up to $100,000 to be repaid during a period spanning three-to-seven years at 0 percent interest. Loans are limited to 90 percent of total project costs. The AAEDC has helped underwrite nearly $170,000 in business loans since 2016.

Talbott Springs School Gets State Support

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The designees for the Maryland Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) agreed to support the construction of a replacement school building for Talbott Springs Elementary School, in Columbia. The decision reverses an earlier IAC decision, and follows a re-evaluation and redesign of the project by Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to address issues previously outlined by the IAC.

The revised feasibility study plans for an 84,625-square-foot replacement facility with capacity for 631 students. The replacement school will be constructed on the current school site, and the existing building will be demolished. The new building will provide a safer student drop off, more energy efficient HVAC and natural light to all classrooms; the projected completion date is fall 2022.

The IAC approval makes the project eligible to receive state funding. The Howard County Board of Education voted on May 17, 2018, to move forward with a replacement school, and the project has already earned Howard County Government planning approval.

Kittleman Announces Grant Program

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Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced the expansion of his Achieve 24/7 initiative, building on the success of a pilot program held at Oakland Mills Middle School. Under the Achieve 24/7 program, the county’s Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS) will offer small grants to county schools focused on closing the opportunity gap.

“We started Achieve 24/7 as a way to narrow the achievement gap and provide additional resources so all children and youth in Howard County can succeed,” said Kittleman. “We were excited by the results of our pilot program last summer at Oakland Mills Middle School, providing math instruction and enrichment activities. Most of the children involved advanced a level in math when they returned to school this fall.”

That prompted DCRS, working through its Office of the Local Children’s Board and the Achieve 24/7 initiative, to offer small grants to any public school in the county with the goal of advancing racial equity, improving mental health, providing opportunities and closing the achievement gap.

Proposals will be assessed using a rolling application process with a final submission deadline of March 29, 2019. Submissions and questions about the program should be directed to Quinton Askew at qaskew@howardcountymd.gov or by calling 410-313-0221.

Buy Maryland Cyber Tax Credit Opens

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The Maryland Department of Commerce is accepting applications for the new Buy Maryland Cybersecurity Tax Credit, designed to encourage small businesses to purchase cybersecurity technologies and services from qualified Maryland cybersecurity companies. The tax credit passed during the 2018 legislative session.

To register as a Qualified Maryland Cybersecurity Seller (QMCS), Maryland companies must meet certain criteria and submit an application to Maryland Commerce. Once approved, QMCS are listed on the Department of Commerce website, gaining exposure to prospective buyers and generating additional sales.

Once qualified, the buyer is eligible to claim a tax credit for 50 percent of the purchase price of cybersecurity technologies and services bought from a QMCS. The credit, which must be claimed for the tax year in which the purchase is made, is capped at $50,000 for purchases of up to $100,000. To be eligible for the tax credit in 2018, approved purchases from a QMCS must occur by Dec. 31.

 

Kann Partners Join Waldon

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Baltimore architect, Donald Kann, and the employees of Baltimore-based Kann Partners, have joined Columbia-based Waldon Studio Architects (WSA), expanding the firm’s capabilities and increasing its size to just fewer than 40 employees. This new talent brings to WSA new expertise in historic preservation, as well as deep experience in the senior living, hospitality, multi-family housing and mixed-use sectors.

With WSA’s portfolio in worship, K-12, health care and community facilities, the infusion of talent broadens and diversifies the firm’s portfolio, providing expertise and experience across the full spectrum of community-based architecture. Adding a Baltimore-based team provides WSA easier access to potential clients throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Zentail Secures $5 Million Financing

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Columbia-based Zentail, an e-commerce automations software operations platform, has completed a $5 million Series A round of financing. Initialized Capital led the investment round with participation from FundersClub, with both entities adding to their prior investments in Zentail’s Series Seed. The investment brings Zentail’s total funding to $6.2 million, with Y Combinator, Scott Banister, and brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi as other seed round investors.

Zentail received this Series A funding in its third year, continuing on its mission to make e-commerce simple through technology and providing its solution to automate otherwise manual tasks, including product listing, pricing, inventory and order management, then systematically syncing the data across shopping channels. Zentail’s ecosystem of integrated services helps a growing number of online retailers and brands streamline their operations and grow sales through one central platform.

Orbis Technologies Wins DoD Contract

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Orbis Technologies, of Annapolis, has been awarded of a contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to deliver an enterprise-level automated security workflow and universal sign-on solution. This marks yet another major contract award for Orbis this year. The solution from Orbis will save time and effort logging on and off the DoD system; once delivered, users will be able to spend and more time conducting mission support and analysis activities to provide a better, more accurate view of the data being processed.

It will also significantly improve the overall security posture of the organization. “Orbis has extensive experience integrating enterprise content in highly secure environments for large Fortune 50 and Department of Defense clients. The award demonstrates our strength and expertise in this area,” said Brian Ippolito, Orbis’ president and CEO.

HHC Closes $700M Loan

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The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) has closed on a secured, non-recourse corporate credit facility with loan proceeds of up to $700 million, comprised of a $615 million term loan and an $85 million revolver. Additionally, HHC will have the right to increase the revolver by $50 million through the facility’s accordion feature.

The new financing achieves several objectives for the corporation, including lowering its cost of capital while extending term, enhancing liquidity, and improving operational and financial flexibility. “By lowering our cost of funding, extending our maturity and adding a revolving component, this financing exemplifies our commitment to further improving our credit metrics,” said HHC Chief Financial Officer David O’Reilly.

The initial collateral for this loan will include portions of One Mall North and One Merriweather, both in Columbia, and several other HHC properties in other markets.

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