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Leadership change in Arundel Transportation Office

Source: Anne Arundel County Government

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced a change in leadership with the County’s Office of Transportation, where Samuel Snead will replace outgoing director Ramond Robinson. Snead’s appointment took effect on Monday, Dec. 27.

“Samuel Snead brings significant transportation planning and regulatory experience to this role,” Pittman said. “I am confident he will continue the office’s work in implementing the goals we created in our Move Anne Arundel! framework.”

An Anne Arundel County resident, Snead most recently served as head transportation planner for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works. In that role, his team won a 2021 U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Innovation grant award for its COVID-19 vehicle shield for CountyRide.

Prior to working for Baltimore County, Snead served as a program manager in the U.S. Department of Transportation, managing federal grant programs focused on bus transit through the Federal Transit Administration. He has also held transportation planning and regulatory roles with Arlington County, Va.; Los Angeles County and the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization.


$65K gift benefits Loyola’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Loyola University Maryland was awarded a $65,000 gift from the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation for the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CI&E). The gift will support the CI&E’s Baltipreneurs Accelerator and undergraduate Steering Committee Fellows.

The mission of the CI&E is to elevate innovation and entrepreneurship at Loyola and Baltimore. The CI&E’s Baltipreneurs Accelerator supports local entrepreneurs who run ventures that are operational in Baltimore City and who identify as under-resourced, with a preference for women and entrepreneurs of color who are traditionally undercapitalized and underrepresented as founders.

The CI&E’s Steering Committee Fellows provide guidance and a student perspective on the direction of the Center. Fellows take the lead on developing and executing key Center activities; partner with local organizations to develop volunteer opportunities; plan and promote panels featuring innovation hubs, model startups, and other ventures; complete outreach and engaging social media postings to promote the CI&E at Loyola; and partner with faculty members to create events related to innovation and entrepreneurship.


Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards presented

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) recently presented Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards for leadership and community planning at its ninth annual awards ceremony. The awards recognize individuals, organizations and programs that exemplify well-planned economic and community development initiatives throughout the state.

The 2021 winners include Anne Arundel County Plan2040. As one of the state’s most populous and fastest growing counties, Anne Arundel is at the forefront of managing growth in Maryland by focusing on quality of life in its many desirable neighborhoods. Plan2040 was cited for setting a new standard for community engagement and collaboration in the county, and is seen as a model for other jurisdictions to consider when preparing a new comprehensive plan.

The 10 winners are individuals and organizations that demonstrate their commitment to sustainable growth – development or redevelopment that is compact, walkable, and takes advantage of existing infrastructure while preserving the rural landscape – in Maryland. Short videos about each award recipient are available at https://bit.ly/21grawards.


QuickCode.ai receives $2M from DataTribe

QuickCode.ai has raised $2 million in seed funding from DataTribe, a Maple Lawn-based global cyber foundry that invests in and co-builds next-generation cybersecurity and data science companies. QuickCode.ai won the 2021 DataTribe Challenge in early November 2021, for the company’s innovative approach to enabling organizations to unlock the insights trapped in text data to solve the data-labeling bottleneck that is inherent when deploying artificial intelligence applications at scale.

“We’re excited to announce our latest investment in QuickCode.ai, winners of the fourth-annual DataTribe Challenge. Given our focus on over-the-horizon cyber and data science companies, Quickcode.ai is a great fit,” said John Funge, managing director at DataTribe. “We’re looking forward to working closely with Quickcode as they address maybe the most important part of machine learning: ensuring the highest possible quality training data and making sure models don’t drift over time.”

QuickCode.ai software helps solve the problem of getting the right kind of labeled training data, resulting in more accurate and less biased machine learning models. The solution uses its machine learning method to target and create datasets for text-based machine learning algorithms, focusing users on finding the most representative data, including the hard-to-label and edge cases. The platform makes it dramatically more efficient for experts to precisely identify the right training data, thereby improving label quality while reducing labeling time and ultimately resulting in more accurate models.

This relationship will open doors for QuickCode.ai’s long-term vision for the business itself to be used not only to improve efficiencies and accuracy in machine learning development pipelines, but also to identify and mitigate model drift in operational pipelines.


Cyber firm leases 9K square feet in Maple Lawn

Source: St. John Properties

ANALYGENCE, a cybersecurity and consulting firm founded in 2010, has signed a lease with St. John Properties, for 9,054 square feet of space within 8115 Maple Lawn Boulevard, a four-story, 130,629-square-foot Class A office building at Maple Lawn. It plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Columbia Gateway Business Park next spring.

ANALYGENCE provides intelligence analysis and cybersecurity solutions to branches of the United States military and government as well as private sector companies in need of complex cyber threats and support services. The company offers a full range of information technology services, advanced cyber training, and cyber threat detections and vulnerability analysis. With this lease, 8115 Maple Lawn Boulevard is now 94 percent occupied.

“It was extremely important to select a new location that our employees would embrace because they are the most valuable component of the company,” said Lonnie Parker, Jr., founder and CEO of ANALYGENCE. “Not only did we accomplish that goal, but we believe the community of Maple Lawn provides a competitive advantage during the recruitment process for new team members. The space at 8115 Maple Lawn provides us with room to grow, with the possibility of additional expansion space in the building. Our staff will now have the opportunity to spread out a bit and enjoy the walkable amenities and stress-relieving outdoor spaces that Maple Lawn has to offer.”


Grace boosts operating capacity at Oriental Energy

Columbia-based W. R. Grace & Co., a prominent independent supplier of polyolefin catalyst technology, polypropylene (PP) process technology, and technology services, announced the successful start-up of two 400 KTA UNIPOL PP process technology lines at Oriental Energy in Ningbo, China.

This brings the total UNIPOL PP operating capacity in China to more than 6.3 million tons per annum in the last twelve years making homopolymer, random and impact copolymers to serve the growing market for high performance plastics in China. As of today, we expect another 2 million tons per annum to come on stream in the next few years from UNIPOL® PP Process Technology in China.

“The safe and successful start-up of the two UNIPOL PP lines at the Ningbo facility is an exciting moment for Oriental Energy. It comes at a critical time as the global economy bounces back from the pandemic and customer demand in the region rises. We are committed to our Chinese customers and look forward to supporting Oriental Energy for years to come to ensure their continued success,” said David Hartill, vice president of global licensing and services.

Oriental Energy currently has the largest UNIPOL PP process technology operating capacity in China, and there are plans to build additional polypropylene lines at their sites in Ningbo and Maoming in the coming years. They anticipate producing several grades of homopolymers, random and impact copolymers with these newest lines to meet the expanding resin requirements of their customers in the region.


Early childhood education programs receive more than $10M

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, Andy Harris and David Trone (all Md.) announced $10,687,408 in federal funding to the Maryland State Department of Education and to the Y of Central Maryland to expand early learning options for Maryland’s low-income families, provide additional professional development opportunities for educators and support family well-being programs.

The $10,687,408 award comes from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Care and the Office of Head Start and will be distributed as follows:

  • $8,942,996 to the Maryland State Department of Education for Every Student Succeeds Act Preschool Development Grants Program
  • $1,744,412 to the Y of Central Maryland’s Head Start Program

Hogan announces agreements with state employee unions

Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state has completed historic agreements with state employee unions that will lead to significant salary increases for law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses, and other frontline health care workers. The governor also announced an enhanced focus on mental health resources available to state employees. In addition to these tentative agreements, the administration has offered significant salary increases to the two remaining unions, and the state looks forward to finalizing those agreements.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance (SLEOLA), BWI Airport Firefighters Local 142, and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Healthcare have all reached agreements with the state.

  • Employees represented by FOP, SLEOLA, and BWI Firefighters will receive a 7 percent cost of living increase effective July 1, 2022, another 5 percent cost of living increase July 1, 2023, and another 5 percent cost of living increase one year after. Additionally, eligible employees will also receive salary increments valued at approximately 3 percent each year of the agreement, and 10 days of COVID-19 leave for vaccinated employees experiencing breakthrough infections. The state has also agreed to purchase more than 60 vehicles for certain Maryland Transportation Authority officers.
  • Employees represented by AFT-Healthcare will receive a salary increment valued at approximately 2 percent and a $1,000 bonus in Jan. 2022, a 3 percent cost of living increase on July 1, 2022, another salary increment in 2023, 10 days of COVID-19 leave, a 2 percent cost of living on July 1, 2023, and added leave flexibility for their 36-hour workweek. Registered nurses will also receive a 6 percent increase effective July 1, 2022.

“These historic agreements are well-deserved for our hard-working state employees and they deliver on one of our top priorities – to re-fund the police and support our first responders,” said Governor Hogan. “Many of the employees of these unions are law enforcement officers and nurses – frontline heroes who worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to take care of them with these agreements.”

Non-represented employees will receive a salary increment valued at approximately 2% and a $1,000 bonus in Jan. 2022, a 3% cost of living increase on July 1, 2022, another salary increment in 2023, and 10 days of COVID-19 leave.

In addition to these tentative agreements, the administration has offered significant salary increases to the two remaining unions, and the state looks forward to finalizing those agreements.

Enhanced Focus on Mental Health. The governor also announced an enhanced focus on the mental health resources available to state employees, including MyMDCARES.

MyMDCARES is available to state employees and their dependents to provide no-cost, confidential, in-the-moment support to help with personal or professional issues that may interfere with work or family responsibilities. MyMDCARES is a robust whole-life program and “counselor on call” program that offers employees and dependents support and assistance to navigate life.

As part of this enhanced focus, there will be a new town hall-style speaker series on mental health beginning in January, with the first meeting featuring Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.


Merkle releases Media Insights Report

Columbia-based Merkle has released its 2022 Quarter 1 Media Insights Report. The report, which analyzes recent research on consumer trends, provides key considerations for marketers to maximize success in early 2022 and beyond.

“The past two years have been defined by a global pandemic, social unrest and loud cries for equality and justice. As such, it is unsurprising that consumer sentiment has changed dramatically over that time,” said Erin Spice, senior director of media strategy at Merkle. “Moving forward, marketers need to understand how those defining moments have impacted consumer sentiment. Our Media Insights Report provides key learnings marketers can use to reevaluate their strategies, remain ahead of the curve, and better reach their audiences.”

As marketers enter 2022, Merkle highlights four key areas of focus:

The Next Generation’s Influence on Parents’ Purchases: Born between 2010 and 2025, Generation Alpha is proving to be one of the most influential generations for purchasing decisions. Their digitally native and socially conscious upbringing is a driving force behind their rapidly changing sentiments. Gen Alpha is already influencing parents’ purchasing decisions and developing its own values that are different from past generations.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: The past year was defined by calls for social justice and equality, leading companies to put greater emphasis on their own DEI initiatives. Marketers should partner with brands to find authentic ways to promote these initiatives and influence positive social change – such as more inclusive audience strategies, messaging, creative, and content development.

Gaming: Digital gamers in the US are on track to surpass 180 million in 2022 and, accelerated by the pandemic, gaming platforms are increasingly serving as digital communities for users to connect and socialize. With the gamer population becoming more diverse, there is ample opportunity for brands and marketers to reach key audience segments in a fresh channel based on their preferred platforms, devices, and interests.

Social Commerce 2.0: Driven by the pandemic and shifting shopping behaviors, US social commerce sales saw 36% growth in 2021, reaching $36 billion. As social platforms continue to develop innovative commerce solutions in 2022 and beyond, marketers should consider social commerce, driven by original and authentic creative to reach the right audiences, as an integral part of their media strategy.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, Merkle will host a webinar to discuss market factors and essential considerations that marketers need to inform their media strategies. It can be accessed at Media Insights Report Q1 2022: Trends and Strategies for the Next Quarter (on24.com).



HCEDA selected as Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalist

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all D-Md.)  announced an award of $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA).

The infusion will go toward continuing developing its Maryland Cyber Workforce Solutions (Solutions) project on behalf of a coalition of Maryland local governments, including Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Charles County, Harford County, Howard County, Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County.

The grant was awarded through Phase 1 of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.” By competing successfully for a Phase 1 grant, Howard County and its partners will have the opportunity to further develop specific project ideas and compete for a larger amount of funding for implementation in Phase 2.

The proposal from the HCEDA aims to leverage Maryland’s strength as a leader in cybersecurity and to open up more pathways for workers to enter into this field and contribute to its continued growth and innovation.

The Phase 1 award granted to the HCEDA Solutions project is an outcome of a highly-competitive process in which 529 applications were submitted to the organization, highlighting the strong interest and need across the country for concerted economic development planning on a regional scale.

Phase 1 of the challenge required regions to submit unique plans that will develop industry, train the local workforce and build economies. As a finalist, the HCEDA Authority will compete for Phase 2 of the challenge for an award of $100 million for 3-8 projects across Maryland that support an industry sector.


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