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Howard Holds Conference on Human Trafficking

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Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention recently held the county’s first conference to highlight efforts to identify, eliminate and prevent sexual and labor trafficking in the region. The more than 140 individuals attending the conference heard from survivors, national experts and law enforcement officers and spent the day strategizing about ways to combat the problem.

Recent Howard County initiatives to combat human trafficking have included hiring a human trafficking prevention coordinator and adding a second full-time police detective to investigate cases; passing legislation allowing police officers to investigate massage parlors suspected as fronts for prostitution and human trafficking; creating a forfeiture fund to provide services for survivors: and establishing the Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council. For more information on the Howard County Office of Human Trafficking Prevention, contact Sidney Ford at 410-313-6558 or saford@howardcountymd.gov.

Schuh Signs Mental Health Legislation

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh recently signed legislation to expand mental health services for residents. The $470,000 annual effort will fund two new Mental Health Agency Mobile Crisis Response Teams.  The teams are designed to respond primarily to calls from police. County staff is then dispatched to assist in stabilizing the individual and connect them to the most appropriate services. During 2017, the teams were dispatched 1,912 times. The agency serves the entire county on a 24/7/365 basis.

One of the crisis response teams will help support the county’s Safe Stations Program, where any resident who is the victim of a heroin/opioid addiction can go to any Anne Arundel County or Annapolis City Fire Station and get connected to services. The second team will be assigned to the Anne Arundel County Public School system, and will help provide needed emergency mental health services to the students.

Congressional Team Funds Opioid Fight

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U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown, John Delaney and Jamie Raskin (all D-Md.) announced that the Maryland State Police will receive a grant of $2,544,800 through the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to support law enforcement agencies in combating the illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin and prescription opioids.

The funds come from the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTFP), a competitive grant program that provides two years of funding directly to law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids.

Maryland was one of 17 states awarded funding. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the grants will support the location or investigation of illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids. AHTFP grants are managed and dispersed through COPS, the component of the DOJ responsible for advancing the practice of community policing through information sharing and financial assistance.

Recently, President Trump signed into law H.R. 6, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (also known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act). The legislation reauthorized a number of key law enforcement programs important to Maryland through the Office of National Drug Control Policy, such as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, drug courts, the COPS Anti-Meth Program and the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program.

Infogix Acquires DATUM

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Infogix, a provider of data management tools, has acquired Annapolis-based DATUM, a provider of data governance software and strategic services. The deal allows Infogix to enhance its data governance framework with key elements of DATUM’s Information Value Management framework, as well as prepackaged, outcome-driven use cases to enhance value for customers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition also expands Infogix’s footprint in new markets, including consumer products, chemicals, manufacturing, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals, where data governance and metadata management are mission-critical capabilities.

“Infogix has deep development expertise, a heritage of customer success in data and a broad international footprint, all of which allow us to scale the best of both organizations to serve the metadata management and data governance market more effectively,” said Will Crump, CEO of DATUM.

Orrstown Financial to Acquire Hamilton

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Orrstown Financial Services, of Shippensburg, Pa., and Towson-based Hamilton Bancorp, which operates seven branches including a location in Ellicott City, have signed a definitive agreement under which Hamilton will merge with and into Orrstown. Hamilton shareholders will receive a combination of stock and cash currently valued at $58.5 million.

Per the agreement, Hamilton shareholders will receive 0.54 shares of Orrstown common stock and $4.10 per share in cash for each share of Hamilton common stock owned. Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company is expected to have approximately $2.5 billion in assets, $1.7 billion in loans and $2.1 billion in deposits. With operations in south central Pennsylvania and central Maryland, the combined organization will be better positioned to serve its marketplaces.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019. Following the closing, one of Hamilton’s current directors will be added to the boards of directors of Orrstown and Orrstown Bank. In addition, Ellen Fish, executive vice president of Hamilton, will join Orrstown as executive vice president and senior lender for the Greater Baltimore region.

Authority Brands Acquires Pool Co.

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Authority Brands, of Columbia, has purchased America’s Swimming Pool Co. (ASP). The acquisition represents the first brand addition since Authority Brands was acquired by funds advised by Apax Partners in September 2018. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ASP is the nation’s largest swimming pool service franchise, with more than 100 franchise owners operating in more than 350 cities across 21 states.

Authority Brands is a home services franchising platform and the parent company to The Cleaning Authority (TCA) and Homewatch CareGivers (HWCG). TCA franchisees provide residential cleaning services to more than 100,000 recurring customers; while HWCG franchisees deliver at-home services including elderly, disabled and after-surgery care, as well as help for those living with dementia.

Authority Brands supports individual franchisee growth by providing marketing, technology and operational support. With the addition of ASP, Authority Brands now has more than 550 franchise locations in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Northrop Grumman Wins Contract

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The U.S. Air Force, acting as the acquisition authority, has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) a contract valued at $54,626,116 to serve as Unified Platform systems coordinator for the USCYBERCOM Unified Platform program.

Unified Platform will support all defensive and offensive cyber operations, as well as cyber intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Force.

“Northrop Grumman is proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Cyber Command to deliver this critical mission capability in support of our nation’s Cyber Mission Force,” said Linnie Haynesworth, sector vice president and general manager, cyber and intelligence mission solutions, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “We look forward to delivering the integrated, shared capabilities that will give our cyber warfighters the edge in cyberspace and across all domains.”

As the Unified Platform systems coordinator, Northrop Grumman will integrate disparate cyberspace platforms, enabling integrated management and synchronized cyber operations to give U.S. forces rapid access to a full spectrum of cyber capabilities.

“Northrop Grumman is recognized for collaborative, innovative leadership in delivering transformative cyber solutions through a full range of challenged environments,” said Bobby Lentz, vice president, global cyber solutions business unit, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “We look forward to continuing to work with U.S. Cyber Command to ensure our forces can maintain the tactical and technological advantage required to succeed in the evolving domain of cyber space.”

The Unified Platform contract was awarded competitively. Northrop Grumman will perform the work in San Antonio, Texas, as well as in locations in Maryland, Georgia and Ohio.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide.  Please visit news.northropgrumman.com for more information.

Live! Casino Awards $19M in Grants

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The Cordish Companies’ Live! Casino & Hotel and the Anne Arundel County Local Development Council (LDC) has awarded $19 million in local impact and community grants for 2019. This year’s grants bring the total funds in support of Anne Arundel County organizations to nearly $130 Million since Live! Casino opened in June 2012.

The grants were presented to recipients ranging across county operational and capital programs, education, health and human services and community associations. The grant allocations were recommended by the LDC, which helps to manage the distribution of the county’s gaming tax revenue to local organizations.

Local impact grant recipients include the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, $5,598,000; the county’s Police Department, $3,459,200; the county’s Office of Public Works/Department of Planning & Zoning, $2.9 million; Anne Arundel Community College, $1.7 million; and the BWI Business Partnership, $1,059,000.

Also allotted were $350,000 in community support grants. Recipients include MacArthur Middle School, $39,303, to add classroom projectors; Jessup Improvement Association, $30,625, to build a new roof for the community hall; Meade High School, $29,819, to give Chromebooks to students; Sarah’s House, $25,000, to benefit childcare for homeless families; and Annapolis Maritime Museum, $13,072, to implement an oyster/bay education program for Meade Middle School.

Community based organizations and nonprofit groups located generally within a three-mile radius of Live! Casino & Hotel are eligible to apply for a local impact grant. For more information and to apply for a grant, visit www.aacounty.org/LDC.

HCEDA Breaks Wall on Innovation Center

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The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) recently held a ceremonial wall breaking to start construction of the new Howard County Innovation Center at 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia. It was also announced at the event that The MITRE Corp. has signed a memorandum of understanding to support a big data and software lab, called “The Viking Lab,” in the center.

Scheduled to open in spring 2019, the center will be a 50,000-square-foot, full-service resource for local businesses and the entrepreneurship community.

The MITRE Corp., a private nonprofit corporation, operates federally-funded research and development centers that help government agencies address many of their critical challenges. MITRE’s Viking Lab will be managed by Howard County-based Trimia and will occupy approximately 1,000-square-feet in the building. The goal of the lab is to provide private sector companies the opportunity to solve complex governmental problems.

Also committed to the center will be the incubator and entrepreneur services of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, the Howard Tech Council, the Small Business Development Center, SCORE, Franunhofer, Howard Community College, Procurement Technical Assistance Program and the HCEDA. More resources are expected to be added before the opening.

REMAKING
 DOWNTOWN
 COLUMBIA–Gregg Fitchitt at the helm for redevelopment

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Parents of philosophy majors, take heart: a philosophy major not only got a job, he got the top job.

Greg Fitchitt, the newly appointed Regional President for The Howard Hughes Corporation, majored in philosophy nearly three decades ago at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. Now he’s overseeing the $5 billion, 14-million-square-foot redevelopment of Downtown Columbia.

Today, in his office overlooking Symphony Woods, Fitchitt retains a sense of quiet contemplation when he talks about his vision for Downtown Columbia. “Philosophy is a great background for business in that it’s great training for close analysis, logical argument, and legal agreements,” Fitchitt said.

During an interview with The Business Monthly, he said that the real reason he loves philosophy is because it’s about the big picture, “The way we live.”

Fitchitt believes his philosophy about Downtown Columbia is consistent with Jim Rouse, the founder of Columbia. “Rouse did believe that we could, through the places we build, create better lives for people, allow them to reach their full potential.”

One of Rouse’s core aspirations was that Columbia would be a real city, not just a better suburb. “What was created is a fabulous suburb,” said Fitchitt. “Now, becoming the ‘real city’ is our mission.”

Fitchitt also acknowledged the legacy left by his company’s namesake, the legendary Howard Hughes, another visionary who has shaped Fitchitt’s own philosophy. “He was incredibly ambitious, an innovator, an entrepreneur with all sorts of inventions. I would say my own spirit of entrepreneurism has been growing over time,” Fitchitt added.

California Dealin’

As a young man just out of college in California, Fitchitt fell in love with building and development when he worked for Guess Jeans. What started as a temporary job became a rush as he built 75 mall stores in four years.

“I took stores through the design process, hired an architect, hired a contractor, delivered the completed project. I found my love of this business then,” he said.

Fitchitt then worked for 15 years for the Westfield Corporation, at that time an Australian-based British-American shopping center company with retail operations in the United Kingdom and the United States, before joining Howard Hughes in 2013.

If he looks back fondly on the days when he could build 75 stores in four years, Fitchitt is now turning a much larger, slower wheel. The planned redevelopment of the 391-acre Downtown Columbia is scheduled over the next 20 years.

At full buildout, the project will include three new and reconfigured neighborhoods – Merriweather District, Lakefront District and Central District – and feature more than 14 million square feet of mixed-use development comprised of 4.3 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.25 million square feet of street retail, 6,244 residential units, and 640 hotel rooms, as well as cultural and civic spaces including public parks and trails.

The underdeveloped core of Columbia became the focus of a five-year process that culminated with the Downtown Columbia Plan in 2010, which was approved by Howard County. It guides the development today.

The Merriweather District project, now underway, will offer high-density, mixed-use development with 1.5 million square feet of office space and more than 2,000 residences, anchored by a 12-story, 350,000-square-foot office building that will house the headquarters for leading cybersecurity firm Tenable.

The Merriweather District area is about 100 acres and, of that, some 65 acres are permanently protected open space. “We are creating Downtown Columbia as a walkable urban place,” said Fitchitt. “We’ve had significant environmental restoration and reforestation of a lot of environmentally degraded land. It’s the picture of smart growth. We have pockets of high density instead of sprawling growth. You can’t have a walkable environment without density.”

Learning curve

Fitchitt candidly admits he didn’t know much about Columbia when he first moved to Maryland. “But you only have to talk to a few people to realize a lot of them are passionate about Columbia. And a lot of them moved here in the early days in the ’60s and ’70s for the ideals that Jim Rouse intentionally created: ethnic and racial diversity, economic diversity,” he said.

Most people in the local area think of Rouse as the father of planned communities; Fitchitt also considers him a forerunner of affordable housing. “Rouse created mixed-income communities,” Fitchitt said. “Today we are taking the Rouse ideals and bringing them into the 21st century with a very progressive and forward-thinking solution for affordable housing downtown.”

There will be 6,244 units built in the Downtown area, and 900 will be“affordable housing.” Affordable housing falls on a spectrum from very low-income units, to low-income, to moderate-income units, Fitchitt explained. “Very low income is considered 30% of area’s median income.”

Eight years into what is a planned 30 years of development for downtown Columbia, Fitchitt said he’d like to complete this project in less than 30 years. Here, he will see his children grow up, commuting 10 minutes from his home in Ellicott City. “It’s a great place to raise a family,” he said. “The county has one of the best public school systems in the country.”

As for the future of Downtown Columbia, he said, “Overall, people are seeing more and more the benefits that come with developing the Downtown. We have more great restaurants: Cured, 18th and 21st, Lupa, We have the Soundry, doing very well as a music venue.”

In his day-to-day work of number-crunching, managing people, and leading a massive project, Fitchitt returns often to a philosophy that stands on the shoulders of Rouse. “Rouse saw Columbia as a garden for growing people. That philosophy is at the heart of what I do every day: Columbia should be designed for the people.”

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