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Maryland Fourth Most Innovative State

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With the U.S. projected to spend $581 billion on research and development in 2019, the personal finance website WalletHub released its report on 2019’s Most & Least Innovative States. Maryland is ranked fourth on the list.

In order to determine the most and least innovative states, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, Human Capital and Innovation Environment. It evaluated those dimensions using 24 relevant metrics; each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for innovation. Its data set ranges from share of STEM professionals to R&D spending per capita to tech-company density.

It then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its State Innovation Index and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. Massachusetts ranked first, Washington state was second, the District of Columbia was third and Colorado fifth, to round out the top five; California, Virginia, Utah, Delaware and Oregon ranked 6-10, respectively.

The information on Maryland follows.

Innovation in Maryland (1 = Most Innovative, 25 = Average):

2nd: Share of STEM professionals

4th: Projected STEM-job demand by 2020

30th: Eighth-grade math and science performance

3rd: Share of science and engineering graduates, aged 25-plus

3rd: Share of technology companies

3rd: R&D spending per capita

9th: Venture capital funding per capita

For the full report, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/most-innovative-states/31890.

Pittman Launches Everyone Counts Effort for 2020 Census

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has kicked off the county’s outreach effort for the 2020 Census with local government and community leaders. Pittman announced a Complete Count Committee in an effort to ensure adequate federal and state resources are devoted to Anne Arundel County.

“In terms of state and federal funding, if you don’t get counted then you don’t count ― and that has real consequences,” said Pittman. “In [the current census tract] in Brooklyn Park, nearly a quarter of the people did not get counted in 2010. We’re not going to let that happen in 2020. That’s why we’re kicking off this effort today to make sure everyone counts in Anne Arundel County.”

The Brooklyn Park Library is in Census Tract 7501, which has a population of 4,086. According to data from the 2010 census, nearly 23% of the tract did not respond to the last census. That corresponds to 939 people failing to be counted, which translates to $1,821 per person and a total of $1,709,919 in state and federal funding lost to this community.

In accordance with federal census guidelines, Pittman established a Complete Count Committee comprised of community leaders and local government officials to encourage the public to be counted in the 2020 census. Pittman appointed Harry Freeman, a community leader and military veteran who works as an analyst on Fort Meade, to chair the committee.

More information on Complete County Committees can be found at www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/newsroom/press-kits/2018/ccc.pdf

HCGH Announces Practice Howard Program

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Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) announced the launch of Practice Howard, an innovative program designed to reduce the shortage of primary care physicians in Howard County. The program is a joint effort with the Howard County government, which is providing grant funding to support new physicians and their practices.

Through Practice Howard, new physicians and their practices in Howard County, which were selected through a competitive evaluation process, will receive resources to cover the following costs.

● Physician recruitment costs, such as advertising and other outreach.
● Education and training on innovative care delivery models for all practice staff.
● Loan repayment and housing assistance for doctors.
● Stop-gap funding to cover initial billing losses common when establishing a practice.

Johns Hopkins Health System research shows that the county faces a significant shortage of about 80 primary care physicians and internists within five years. The shortage will be caused by increased demand from population growth, including a disproportionate increase in residents older than age 55, combined with reduced supply, as more community doctors approach retirement.

Becoming a primary care physician is often not an attractive choice for doctors right out of medical school. The pay is less than that for other specialties, which is a major factor for students who amass debts that frequently exceed $300,000. Additionally, if a medical practice can find a doctor to recruit, low reimbursement rates by insurance companies mean that office is likely to lose money, at least initially, when it hires the new physician.

Through a formal bid process that included hospital, county and community representation, two medical practices have been selected to participate in the first year of the program. Columbia Medical Practice and Centennial Medical Group are now recruiting for new hires, and doctors are expected to start by the summer. Resources will be provided to physicians and their practices in an amount of approximately $60,000 per year for five years. Doctors must agree to live in Howard County and maintain their practice for at least five years.

Within a few months, it is expected that 4,000 Howard County residents will have better access to primary care, with the number doubling in a year, depending on additional resources. Greater access to physicians will mean fewer emergency room visits, better treatment of chronic conditions and more screenings and disease prevention. Funds to support targeted training will help address mental health screening and referrals.

Howard Among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 10 Healthiest Communities

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Howard County is among the Top 10 Healthiest Counties in the nation, according to rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The local no. 10 ranking among nearly 3,000 jurisdictions is a significant step up from last year’s no. 20 ranking. The county, which was the only top 10 county in Maryland, was also no. 10 among its peer group of urban, high-performing communities.

The rankings represent an evaluation of 81 health-related metrics in 10 categories as underwritten by the Aetna Foundation. The categories include Population Health, Equity, Education, Economy, Housing, Food & Nutrition, Environment, Public Safety, Community Vitality and Infrastructure. They are weighted in that order as part of the health assessment to arrive at an overall score, and to represent the variety of social and economic factors that contribute to overall community health.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our Local Health Improvement Coalition members across the county to encourage healthy behaviors, like physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “Behavioral health, healthy aging and access to health care are identified focus areas in which our partnerships play an important role in improving the population’s health. We strive to ensure health equity is achieved by closing any gaps related to racial, gender, educational or economic status.”

Top communities in this national assessment offer residents substantial opportunities to live a productive, healthy life, and the data from the study helps inform officials and community leaders about policies and practices that further lead to improved outcomes.

“This ranking is gratifying, but our goal is to help make Howard County the healthiest community in the nation. These scores validate the efforts that Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) has undertaken with our partners to improve the health of the population and address access to care, obesity and behavioral health issues,” HCGH President Steve Snelgrove. “But there is more work to do on equity and the social determinants of health, and we are committed to making even more gains.”

Businesses invest in English skills

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Howard Community College offers customized programs

Area businesses are investing in English language skills for their workers, giving them better on-the-job performance in the short-term and expanding their career potential in the long-term.

In a partnership with Howard Community College (HCC), Jessup-based Next Day Blinds has been offering a workplace program to improve employees’ English language skills. The 13-week-long class, held twice a year, three days a week, accommodates 15 students.

While the class is a workforce development program for the firm that has been providing custom window coverings since 1993, the intention isn’t to learn only English related to work tasks.

“Are we focusing the curriculum on the types of machinery or work they do? Absolutely not,” said Keisha Stevens, vice president of human resources for Next Day Blinds. “Our belief as an organization is that once we invest in an employee with education and training, it helps in the workplace as well as the community.”

She said, “We provide a training room and HCC provides the teacher.”

The idea first formed two years ago when the company began researching existing programs to help its workers learn English. Employees participate in the program for free. To be eligible to enroll, they must have worked for Next Day Blinds at least six months.

“For our workers, attending existing programs was hard because of the hours that they work,” said Stevens. “When English is your second language, everything becomes harder.”

Banking sector success

Luis Silva, shown here participating in a mock interview, is now employed in the banking sector.

Other workplace development efforts are flourishing in HCC’s Multicultural Banking and Finance Training Institute, which is attracting already-credentialed immigrants who want to get jobs in the U.S. banking sector.

Rosie Verratti, director of the English Language Center at HCC, which is the umbrella over both the Next Day Blinds program and the banking institute, recalled one student from Colombia who recently graduated from the institute.

“He had already earned an MBA in Colombia, his English was strong and he was super personable,” said Verratti. “The transition to the banking sector should have been relatively easy for him but he didn’t know the system for getting in front of people.”

The graduate is now working in banking.

Classes at the institute focus not only on the mechanics of the U.S. financial system but also cultural education. Learning “the system” – culturally and professionally – helps people make that transition successfully.

Gary Fernandes, division executive of Human Resources at Sandy Spring Bank, said the bank’s been involved with the Multicultural Banking and Finance Training Institute since the its inception three years ago.

In a very hands-on way, Sandy Spring Bank helped shape the institute. The bank’s human resources team helps conduct mock interviews and classes also tour the bank to learn about different aspects of operations.

“When HCC partners with local businesses and understands what we need, it really is beneficial for both parties,” said Fernandes.

The bank has extended job offers to three graduates who learned how to interact with clients, use workforce-specific language and write in a professional setting, among other skills.

Employees at Next Day Blinds can enroll in an English language program on the job site.

Deepening the worker pool

Looking at trends in the local population, employers that invest in English-speaking or cultural education programs can choose from a larger pool of qualified workers.
Currently, more than 2,000 noncredit students are enrolled in the English Language Center (ELC).

In the last few decades, the foreign-born population in the United States has increased dramatically from 14.1 million in 1980 to 43.7 million in 2016, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

In Maryland, foreign-born people represent more than 15 percent of the total population. Forty percent of them have limited English proficiency.

On a local level, in Howard County, almost 20 percent of residents are foreign-born and 38 percent of those have limited English, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

At the ELC, which includes students from over 70 different countries, 50 percent of students taking intermediate or higher-level classes hold university degrees from their home countries, 30 percent in business and another 30 percent in science, technology, engineering or math fields.

Despite the education and skills these immigrants bring, many of them face limited English proficiency; unfamiliarity with the U.S. job search process and local labor markets; or they find the cost and complexity of re-licensing prohibitive.

Providing workforce development programs that address their unique needs can lead to tapping into a significant talent pool.

Seeing eye-to-eye culturally

The ELC also provides one-on-one tutoring for employees of local companies, said Verratti.

Businesses are also increasingly interested in the ELC’s cultural proficiency workshops for people who work with a lot of international clients or have a large population of foreign-born workers.

Businesses should become aware that their local community college can be a resource for workforce development, urged Verratti. “We are here at HCC – and we are out there in the community – helping prepare the workforce.”

Q&A with Mary Bello–CMC board chair plans for the future

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Mary Bello, manager of physician relations at Anne Arundel Health System (AAHS) and the new board chair of the Central Maryland Chamber (CMC), has come to an interesting crossroads: She has a career’s worth of information about navigating the nation’s ever-more-complicated (and expensive) health system, as well as her CMC platform. So, at this juncture, her days are about connecting physicians with the hospital, while her new duties include connecting CMC members to their best health care options.

What is the current state of the CMC?

We are excited for our future. We have an engaged board comprised of professionals from key industries who have a shared level of commitment and enthusiasm. The direction of CEO Raj Kudchadkar, who has a depth of expertise and experience in our region’s development, has been a crucial asset post-merger; and Kim Wirt, our director of operations, has also employed her talents to help us move forward.

What are your goals?

The CMC is working on our first strategic plan since the merger and we’re looking forward to sharing the results. First, we’ll be reaching out to our members, assessing their needs and understanding their concerns, which I’m looking forward to. Their feedback will be essential as we develop initiatives to support our goals.

The West County Chamber and the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber merged two years ago. How did the merger affect membership?

After the merger, we had 550 members. Since, we’ve had some fluctuation, which was expected, as we combined two smaller chambers into a new, larger organization. Now, with Karen Russell on board as our membership director, we’ll be able to focus on member growth and retention.

What is the CMC doing to boost membership?

We will be building initiatives that are not so much focused on chamber growth metrics, but on continuing to grow long-term, sustainable relationships with local and regional businesses and communities. If we can continue serving, providing value, it will reflect in our membership growth and retention.

Are there any new programs you want to implement?

One is supporting young professionals who are currently in, or preparing for, the workforce; another is working with government contractors. Supporting Fort Meade will continue to be a top priority.

What are hot button topics as Session 2019 gets underway?

Our Legislative Committee is looking at minimum wage legislation, which is sure to be introduced, as it was last year. If the proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour passes, what will then be key to the chamber will be the timetable for phasing it in. We will also be looking at modifications to the prevailing wage that could authorize employees under public work contracts to sue without first filing a complaint, which is currently required.

Sports betting, renewable energy and modification of paid sick requirements are issues we will probably take positions on as session moves forward.

Obviously, the chamber will oppose those bills that put undue burdens on businesses, particularly small businesses, and support initiatives that help business growth (like tax incentives).

Given your day job, what should the public know about health care?

People can play a pivotal role in controlling rising costs. We have an opportunity to improve health literacy, which will guide people to spend wisely on their health care. Education on appropriate utilization and empowering people to make choices about their care that are evidence-based, and use high quality, low cost services options is essential.

For employers, there is an opportunity to identify cost-savings by right-sizing benefit packages so they accurately reflect the unique needs of their employee.

What do you hope to have accomplished when your tenure as board chair is over?

Generally speaking, using the definition of “synergy” is a perfect way to answer that question: I’m looking to achieve “the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn’t have achieved on its own. It’s the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”

Know that the health of any business community and its workforce is vital to the health of the greater community. So, understanding that vital synergy means expanding our scope beyond traditional business advocacy to playing a key role in supporting the health of both.

What are your duties at your day job?

I work primarily outside the walls of AAMC. Our team builds relationships with community practices, spanning from Cambridge, in Dorchester County on the mid-Eastern Shore, to Howard County and southern Maryland to support the goals of AAHS’s annual operating plan.

We also serve a large patient population from our building in Odenton that sits by the traffic circle that we operate in a joint partnership with Johns Hopkins Health System. That location helps us give patients better access to our specialists.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

That the bottom line used to be about patient volume, but it’s become more about coordinating care and focusing on patient navigation. That’s being done via building relationships, through network development and by working with community physicians. Combined, those value-based efforts result in better outcomes and result in optimal experiences for the patient.

What’s your biggest challenge in working for AAHS?

There is a challenge, nationally, in integrating care systems beyond the walls of the hospital – which is where hospitals have traditionally focused. As we shift from volume-based to value-based health care, coordinating care across the spectrum continues to be an opportunity for all involved to coordinate efforts that will improve the patient experience.

Considering our nation’s aging population, we’re examining ways to address Healthy Aging as well as the challenges that caregivers, who will go from a 7:1 to a 4:1 ratio by 2030, will have to address. As a health system, we are focused on keeping communities healthy.

Awarded Contracts- March 2019

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Awarded Contracts

The following information is regarding awarded contracts and 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, if available. For more information, contact TargetGov: 410-579-1346 x 325

British Aerospace Engineering Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Rockville, MD, Coherent Technical Services Inc., Lexington Park, MD, J.F. Taylor Inc., Lexington Park, MD, KBRwyle Technology Solutions LLC, Columbia, MD, and three other companies were awarded a contract totaling $235,005,530 to provide for Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems Operations Onboard Ship and Shore support services for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD has been awarded a $9,763,000 contract to provide assessments and alternatives of offensive capabilities within the domains of air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, missions and warfare areas for the Washington Headquarters Services.

Vane Line Bunkering Inc., Baltimore, MD has been awarded contract of $16,952,486 to provide continued transportation of bulk jet fuel and marine diesel fuel by barge for the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy in the U.S. Atlantic Region for the U.S. Transportation Command, Directorate of Acquisition.

BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Rockville, MD was awarded a $90,503,763 contract for up to 1,008,710 man-hours of operational systems customization and engineering and technical services of mobile deployable command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems products for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

QED Systems LLC, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD was awarded a $9,688,969 contract for program management, engineering, logistics, business, administrative, operations, and security services for the U.S. Army Contracting Command.

Smartronix Inc., Hollywood, MD was awarded $21,274,633 contract to provide development, planning, execution, monitoring, and life cycle services for information technology/cybersecurity in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Information Technology and Cyber Security Department for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

Precise Systems, Inc., Lexington Park, MD was awarded $16,182,934 contract for software application contractor support services for new and existing acquisition tools in support of the Naval Air Systems Command for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Federal Resources Supply Co., Stevensville, MD and five other companies were awarded a $90,000,000 contract for fire and emergency services equipment for the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, MD has been awarded a $15,225,404 contract for force-protection efforts at airfields located within the U.S. Air Force Central Command’s area of responsibility from the Headquarters Air Combat Command, Acquisition Management and Integration Center.

AECOM Management Services Inc., Germantown, MD has been awarded a $15,220,522 contract to provide program support for Air Combat Command’s Unmanned Aircraft System Operations Center Support for the Headquarters Air Combat Command.

Federal Resources Supply Co., Stevensville, MD and five other companies were awarded a $4,000,000,000 contract for special operations equipment for the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Tribalco LLC, Bethesda, MD was awarded a $12,043,813 contract for radio systems and services for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Northrop Realty opens in Ellicott City

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Northrop Realty, a Long & Foster Company, opened an office in Ellicott City, the latest in a series of new office openings as the residential real estate brokerage expands throughout the region.

Located at 10065 Baltimore National Pike, Northrop Realty’s Ellicott City office covers 4,500 square feet and supports 30 real estate agents.

“With new offices in Columbia, Annapolis and now Ellicott City, among our other offices, we’re expanding quickly throughout the Baltimore-Washington region,” said Creig Northrop, president and CEO of Northrop Realty. “Our Ellicott City office is conveniently located in a community we’ve served for decades. We’re here and ready to help home buyers and sellers accomplish their dreams.”

In addition to Ellicott City, Northrop Realty has offices in Annapolis, Clarksville, Columbia, Silver Spring, Sykesville and Timonium.

Creig Northrop has more than 25 years of experience in real estate and leads a team of more than 100 licensed real estate professionals.

Northrop Realty will hold a ribbon-cutting grand opening ceremony with the Howard County Chamber of Commerce for the Ellicott City office on Thursday, May 2, from 4 to 7 p.m.

General Assembly aims to ease health enrollment

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The Maryland House of Delegates, by a bipartisan margin of 120-9, has passed HB 814, sponsored by Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, which will create what is being called the Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Program.

Should the Senate also pass this measure and Gov. Larry Hogan signs it into law, the measure will make Maryland the first state in the nation to actively use the tax system to enroll uninsured citizens into health care coverage. The program will enroll tens of thousands of now uninsured people into free or low cost health care plans, which will help keep premiums down for all citizens.

The original proposal, also introduced by Peña-Melnyk in the House and by Sen. Brian Feldman as SB 802 in the Senate, would also have established what was called a “down payment” plan, in which uninsured people who could afford health care coverage but chose not to get it would owe an individual responsibility payment to the state, which could also be used to pay for health care coverage.

Even without that part of the approach, backers of the enactment of HB 814/SB 802 are saying I will substantially increase the number of Maryland residents with health care coverage. Legislators have said that they are ready to consider adding financial incentives, like the down payment plan, if the new enrollment system does not achieve its goals.

The bill thus directs the comptroller to build a new IT system for individual income taxes to support collection of individual responsibility payments, equipping the legislature to act quickly should that turns out to be necessary. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Marylanders has dropped from more 700,000 to about 400,000. With the Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Program, that number is intended to drop significantly more.

TelemaxX introduces new ethernet services

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TelemaxX Telekommunikation GmbH, a data center provider in Germany, recently deployed solutions from Hanover-based Ciena‘s Packet Networking portfolio to transform its network and ensure a smooth rollout of Ethernet Business Services (EBS).

Across the region of Karlsruhe, TelemaxX manages five data centers designed to assist German customers in managing their IT infrastructure efficiently and safely without losing control of data, systems, or processes.

TelemaxX’s legacy TDM platform was running out of capacity, which presented operational challenges to its customers. In partnership with Kapsch, Ciena is enabling TelemaxX to upgrade its network and better address customer demands for high-bandwidth services, by creating more capacity across the network while supporting greater operational efficiency and lower CAPEX. In addition, Ciena’s solutions ensure a seamless transition from the previous platform to a more open and programmable architecture, complemented by a specialized team to help TelemaxX manage the transition.

“Our relationships with TelemaxX and Kapsch BusinessCom show the strength of our global reach, helping companies with not only their immediate technology needs, but also ensuring that current investments can support long-term business goals,” said Eugen Gebhard, regional managing director at Ciena.

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