Maryland makes short list for Amazon headquarters

Maryland Business News - Thu, Jan 18, 2018

After narrowing down it from 238 applications, Amazon has named Montgomery County as a leading location for its second North American headquarters.

The retail giant today announced the 20 potential candidates for its future facility, ranging from Los Angeles to Boston. Locally, Montgomery County, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, and Philadelphia are all listed as possibilities. See the full list on Amazon.com.

“This is tremendous news for Montgomery County, our entire state, and further proof that Maryland is truly open for business. Maryland put forward an extremely strong group of sites that were all supported by the state with incentive packages totaling more than $5 billion, including road and transit improvements,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

“Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County, including County Executive Ike Leggett and his team, to ensure that we do everything possible to bring this project home. This news is certainly welcome, but the real challenge lies ahead – and Maryland is ready to meet it,” he continued.

Today we are announcing the communities that will proceed to the next step in the HQ2 process. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity https://t.co/x1bFYbk4Ui pic.twitter.com/J2x0HHzBTR

— Amazon News (@amazonnews) January 18, 2018

HQ2 could create 50,000 jobs for the county with billions of dollars invested in the surrounding region. It is expected that Amazon will announce its decision later this year. Learn more about HQ2.

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Categories: Maryland News

UMBC launches program to prep students for biotech careers

Maryland Business News - Wed, Jan 17, 2018

Guest feature: Sarah Hansen is the STEM Communications Manager at UMBC. Follow along with UMBC on Facebook and Twitter.

A new degree program developed jointly by UMBC and Montgomery College (MC), and soon to be offered at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG), will create opportunities for students of all backgrounds to pursue high-demand careers in the life sciences.

The four-year Translational Life Science Technology (TLST) program, which leads to a bachelor of science degree from UMBC, will train students in the fundamentals of biochemistry, cell biology, epidemiology, statistics, lab instrumentation, and biochemical engineering, as well as give students opportunities to develop sought-after skills such as analytical thinking, teamwork, and data evaluation. The TLST program is accepting students now, and courses will begin in fall 2018.

“As the biotechnology industry translates basic research from ‘bench to bedside,’ it needs a well-trained workforce,” says Dean Bill LaCourse, of UMBC’s College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, within which the TLST program resides. “The TLST program is designed from the ground up to meet that need through a flexible and interdisciplinary approach with intensive industry-inspired laboratory skills training.”

Students begin coursework for the TLST program at Montgomery College, taking classes at the new, state-of-the-art Bioscience Education Center on its Germantown campus for the first two years. Successful completion of that curriculum results in an A.A.S. in biotechnology or other associate’s tracks from Montgomery College.

The Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Building at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville is scheduled for completion in 2019, and will then host the third and fourth year courses of the TLST program. Both of the educational facilities are in the heart of Maryland’s technology corridor and offer well-equipped classrooms and labs where students can master techniques commonly called upon in the biotech industry, such as polymerase chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, gene cloning, mass spectroscopy and chromatography.

The need for workers with these skills is especially great in Maryland, which is one of the top-ranked regions in the nation for its concentration of technology-related jobs. Of the more than 2,300 biotech companies in the state, more than 75 percent are found in Montgomery County.

READ MORE.

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Categories: Maryland News

The Official Guide to Maryland State Travel

Maryland Business News - Tue, Jan 9, 2018

The Maryland Office of Tourism Development (OTD), a division of the Maryland Department of Commerce, has released the 2018 edition of Destination Maryland: The Official Guide to Maryland State Travel. This year, the free publication contains a special feature on “Uniquely Maryland Adventures” and includes themed trip suggestions as well as regional listings of attractions, history & heritage sites, arts & culture facilities, state & national parks, and visitor services.

“Destination Maryland is available in time for January 30, 2018, National Plan Your Vacation Day,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, managing director, Maryland Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. “Research compiled by the U.S. Travel Association and the Project: Time Off Coalition shows a marked positive impact on our relationships, personal well-being, and professional success, yet more than half of Americans skip the one step that helps them go from dreaming to traveling: planning. Destination Maryland is the ideal tool to assist in making travel dreams become reality.”

This full-color magazine includes inspirational visitor images tagged with #MDinFocus in each of our five regions and also contains a year-long listing of special events, fairs and festivals.

Destination Maryland is produced in conjunction with Miles Partnership, a leader in travel publication and content development. With more than 183 travel marketing experts, Miles is 100 percent dedicated to marketing travel destinations, and creates award-winning, innovative, integrated online and print solutions that result in increased visitation.

Copies of Destination Maryland are available for pick-up at Maryland Welcome Centers or by calling 800-719-5900. Orders can also be placed on the Office of Tourism’s web site, visitmaryland.org, where the guide is also available in a flip-book version.

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Categories: Maryland News

Need a handyman? Follow this bird!

Maryland Business News - Tue, Jan 9, 2018

A couple of years ago, EFynch CEO Teris Pantazes realized he needed help. But not much help, and not for long.

“I was hanging a TV in my own house,” said Pantazes, who used to run his own construction company. “I needed help for, like, 10 minutes.”

Pantazes considered something he’d observed from working around construction his entire life—that sometimes, professional crews have days where they have nothing to do and could end up being furloughed—and a new idea took hold: a freelance-style platform to connect homeowners who have repair needs with contractors who can help.

That’s the basic idea behind EFynch, which allows homeowners to privately advertise work they need done around the house and allows contractors to bid on each job. But part of what sets EFynch apart from similar platforms is competitive bidding, Pantazes said.

Instead of users receiving several independent sales quotes, EFynch allows contractors to see the highest, lowest and average bid that’s been offered for a job so they can tailor their offers accordingly. For example, a plumber who is preparing for a vacation may not charge an “emergency fee” if he sees an opportunity to fill down-time by cutting his normal rate for a guaranteed job, Pantazes said.

Users also have the tools to organize each project as if they were their own professional project managers with industry connections. Homeowners list their needs by the work that must be done, rather than the type of person they think they need to hire; this saves users time and money, and shows them all available options for completing a project.

“You can compare the availability and resumes of skill of a general handyman to a tradesperson. What if the plumber is new to the business but a handyman has completed a dozen similar jobs? The owner can find out if the options are available,” Pantazes said. “Sometimes, customers aren’t sure if they need a [licensed] plumber or handyman. We take the guess work out and simply present the solutions,” he said.

Homeowners must post some pictures about the work that needs to be done and give their general area in which they live, but aren’t required to share more if they don’t want to. Contractors are only rated on the specific transactions in which they are involved, so a person’s ratings can’t be padded with recommendations from friends or other sources, Pantazes said.

EFynch charges a small fee for an Escrow and Payment system they offer—as low as 3 percent—to the contractors for using the platform, which provides security and safety to both parties. The company says this rate is much lower than the cut taken by other platforms, and there is no fee to homeowners for using EFynch.

The platform can also serve as a resource for realtors, who should feel safe recommending the app to their clients because EFynch has verified the licensing of certain contractors (known as “Fynchnest Members”). Over a dozen local realtors are currently testing this feature, Pantazes said.

As he developed the EFynch concept and researched what he needed to do to launch the app, Pantazes talked to as many people as possible about their home repair needs—particularly friends who had just bought houses. In early 2016, Charles Paul, an old friend who attended Washington College in Chestertown with Pantazes, came on board as a co-founder.

EFynch’s website and app launched in October 2016, and the platform now has a community of about 3,000 members and has connected contractors to 1,300 jobs. The company is located at City Garage and is a member of the Betamore startup community.

Currently, the company is focusing on expanding its services by providing more information and resources for homebuyers as well as improving its algorithm that provides recommendations; one goal is to take into account how one contractor might be rated by different homeowners with different budgets or specialized requirements.

Pantazes believes every homeowner or buyer can use EFynch to fully understand who they are hiring and make an educated decision—rather than choosing the first person to come along or picking at random from a list of “recommended’ pros.

“You should get a sense of how someone fits into your price range and the level of service and skill that person provides. This helps you hire the best person within your budget or, for some, find a lower price if the work is something simple,” Pantazes said.

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Categories: Maryland News

Maryland Commerce accepting applications for nonprofit funding

Maryland Business News - Wed, Jan 3, 2018

The Maryland Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Maryland Nonprofit Development Center, is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations seeking short-term operational support.

The Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan Account (NIMBL) is an interest-free, micro bridge loan fund that provides funding up to $25,000 to qualifying nonprofits between the award date of a government grant or contract and the actual receipt of those funds.

“Many nonprofits depend on government grants or contacts to pay operational expenses, and when there is a delay in the delivery of those funds, it can seriously impact an organization’s ability to carry out its mission,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “This program will address an important and often overlooked gap in the nonprofit community, and provide an immediate solution to a short-term cash flow problem.”

The first recipient through the NIMBL loan program is Adventure Theatre MTC located in Montgomery County. The nonprofit was formed when two separate organizations – Adventure Theatre and the Musical Theater Center – merged in 2012, creating an academy to inspire new generations of artists and the admirers of the arts. In the past year, Adventure Theatre MTC has received numerous nominations through the Annual Helen Hayes Awards for its adaptations of Jumanji, The Emperor’s Nightingale, James and the Giant Peach, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Did you know the nonprofit arts sector in Maryland has a more than $1 billion impact on the state’s economy?

“The staff of Maryland Commerce helped us pull together all the information we needed and supported us through a very straightforward process,” said Leon Seeman, managing director Adventure Theatre MTC. “This legislation has enabled us to meet payroll while waiting on our government funding, and we are thrilled with the results.”

Nonprofits receiving NIMBL funding must be located in the state and determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from taxation under Section 501(c) (3), (4) or (6) under the Internal Revenue Code.

Applications are only accepted from qualifying nonprofits with written confirmation from a government entity for funds via government grants or contracts that have not yet been received. Repayment of the loan can be no later than the date of the final grant or contract payment to the nonprofit. NIMBL loans can only be used for operating expenses.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, Maryland is home to more than 30,000 nonprofit organizations, employing nearly 263,000 workers and 11% of the workforce. If you are interested in applying or learning more about NIMBL, visit commerce.maryland.gov/nimbl.

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Categories: Maryland News

Celebrate the New Year in Mountain Maryland

Maryland Business News - Mon, Dec 18, 2017

Picturesque snow-capped mountains, exciting winter adventure sports, and toasty log cabins with roaring fireplaces are just a short drive away for Marylanders looking to ring in the New Year in Allegany and Garrett Counties. Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes, enjoy a romantic horse drawn sleigh ride with your loved one, or get dressed up for an evening of dinner and dancing, Western Maryland can help you start 2018 off in style.

Allegany County: A Stylish Night to Remember

Allegany County has you covered this New Year’s Eve if you’re looking for a unique evening to get dressed up, eat amazing food, and dance the night away.

Gatsby Speakeasy Party: Frostburg’s historic Gunter Hotel, which was built in 1896, has undergone a recent renovation just in time for their New Year’s Eve Bash. The Gunter Hotel’s Gatsby Speakeasy Party will include a four-course dinner, entertainment by Pittsburgh’s Gatsby Gang Jazz Band, and a champagne toast at midnight. To add to the authenticity of this event, the Gunter Hotel features a speakeasy in the basement which was hidden in a secret room during the 1920’s Prohibition era. Contact the Gunter Hotel at 301-689-6511 for more information.

Murder Mystery Train Dinner: The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Cumberland has partnered with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to ring in 2018 with a train excursion and overnight package. Guests will enjoy a five-course seafood dinner and champagne New Year’s Eve toast on the train along with a murder mystery activity. Enjoy a stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites with complimentary late check-out on Monday morning. Package details are available online at fairfieldcumberland.com. For more information contact the inn at 301-876-6037 or use the code EVE to book your New Year’s Eve stay.

New Year’s Eve Bash at the Ramada Inn: The Ramada Inn in downtown Cumberland will feature live entertainment from local artists including Butterscotch Blonde & DJ Hook. Tickets include hors d’oeuvres, a drink coupon, a champagne toast, and party favors. Both advanced and day-of tickets will be available. Contact the Ramada Inn Downtown at 301-724-8800 for more information.

Fireworks at the Casino: Rocky Gap Casino and Resort is offering a night of music and fun topped-off with a complimentary fireworks display for all to enjoy. BonJourney, a Journey and Bon Jovi tribute band, will keep spirits high with their unique sound. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. and you must be 21 years or older to enter the casino. Fireworks will start shortly after the midnight countdown. Both casino guests and the public can view the fireworks show at the nearby state park and immediately behind the resort. For more information visit mdmountainblog.com/ring-in-2018.

Garrett County: Fun for the Whole Family

Garrett County has thrilling winter sports and family-friendly rides through the snow-covered countryside to help your group ring in 2018.

New Year’s On The Slopes: The thrilling trails at Wisp Resort will be open on December 31 for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. On New Year’s Eve, Wisp will host a celebration with House DJ Jazzy Jan featuring a variety of music to keep the family dancing at the Main Lodge. There will be no cover charge and food and drink will be available for purchase. The party runs from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Wisp will also be open on New Year’s Day with ski and snowboard lessons available. For more information visit wispresort.com/Events.

New Year’s Eve Party at Honi-Honi Bar: Come say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018 with the folks at Honi-Honi Bar at Deep Creek Lake. Local Cumberland band, Surrender Dorothy, will keep you dancing from 8:30 p.m. through to the New Year with cover songs from both classic rock and top 40s. The evening will feature a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. For more information visit honi-honi.com.

Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride at Circle R Ranch: Enjoy a picturesque horse drawn sleigh ride from the beautiful draft horses at Circle R Ranch at Deep Creek Lake. Snuggle under a warm blanket with your friends and family and enjoy crossing through the snowy countryside. Reservations are preferred two days prior to your sleigh ride. For more information call 301-387-6890.

No matter what activity you decide to participate in, you can’t go wrong celebrating the New Year in the mountains. For more events happening in Allegany and Garrett Counties visit mdmountainside.com and visitdeepcreek.com.

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Categories: Maryland News

Serve up Maryland flavor this holiday season

Maryland Business News - Wed, Dec 13, 2017

As part of our #BuyLocalMD series this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce hopes to inspire you to explore the small businesses in your own community.

Nothing says the holidays like a delicious homemade meal. Here at Maryland Commerce, we suggest spicing up your meals with some local flavor. Whether it’s the main course or coffee and dessert, try a taste of something new this holiday season. Here are a few of our favorite picks from throughout the state.

Colossal Blue
For a truly authentic Maryland meal, consider adding crab to your main dish. Colossal Blue is now bringing the taste of Maryland to homes across the country by launching nationwide delivery and next-day service. Enjoy Maryland-style crab cakes and crab soup made by George Nichols from his decades-old family recipe. Nichols prepares each dish as it’s ordered, using only Colossal lump crab meat and the freshest ingredients. Give the gift of Maryland crab to a loved one across the country – order online now.

Roma Gourmet Sausage
“All great sausages come from Roma” is enough reason to include this local staple in your holiday meal. Located in its current East Baltimore facility since 2008, Roma Gourmet Sausage prides itself on its variety of high-quality sausage and its superior customer service. Pork and chicken sausages are both made with daily-delivered fresh meat and blended with herbs and spices to create the perfect taste. Tip: use Baltimore-based Pompeian olive oil to fry up your meal!

McAllen’s Toffee
The story of McAllen’s Toffee is unlike any other: it began with a glowing review from a termite company. Hampton resident Bill McAllen has been making chocolate almond toffee for more than 25 years, but he didn’t realize how good his product was until an inspector offered to come back to his home a second time for free – and get some more complimentary toffee! Now, McAllen’s Toffee is a hit with family, friends, and the Baltimore Metro region alike, and the product continues hitting the shelves at local stores. McAllen is also partnering with Maryland’s wineries and breweries to give out toffee samples during facility tours. You can purchase McAllen’s Toffee in stores around Towson or online.

Basecamp Coffee Company
This Cumberland micro roaster has a specialty when it comes to caffeine. Basecamp Coffee Company changes its lineup based on the season, but stays true to its Western Maryland pride and appreciation for the environment. With its smooth flavor and original taste, many local coffee shops are brewing and serving the Basecamp blend. Tip: try the Medium roast for something every family member will enjoy – sold locally and online.

Fisher’s Popcorn
Opened in 1937, this Ocean City small business is still family-run by its third generation of Fisher’s. From the secret caramel recipe to the delicious Old Bay© dusting, there are few Maryland-made products that make an impression like Fisher’s. When you’re done snacking or gifting a plastic tub to a friend, use the leftover puffs and string them on your Christmas tree. Tip: we know you won’t have any leftover popcorn, so buy an extra container if you plan to use it for decoration!

Read even more #BuyLocalMD suggestions here.

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Categories: Maryland News

Mama Biscuit’s savors growth in gourmet foods market

Maryland Business News - Tue, Dec 12, 2017

As part of our #BuyLocalMD series this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce hopes to inspire you to explore the small businesses in your own community.

With only 10 employees, one of Frederick County’s smallest manufacturers is landing some of the biggest names in retail.

Mama Biscuit’s, the first gourmet biscuit company in the country, is an all-natural handmade baking operation right outside the heart of Frederick. Founded in 2014 by Lesley Riley, the sweet and savory snack can be found in Wegmans – one of the first supermarkets that she approached, and online at Amazon and QVC – two retailers that approached her.

And starting in July 2018, Mama Biscuit’s is hitting the frozen food shelves in Walmart.

According to Riley, every year Walmart opens up applications for small businesses looking to expand their reach. After reviewing the applicants, 500 companies are chosen to visit the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and are placed on Walmart.com marketplace.

For Mama Biscuit’s, it became the chance of a lifetime.

“I was one of the 100 who got a green ticket to go on their shelves [in stores],” said Riley. “It’s a 10 year commitment. It’s a great process for small businesses and it’s something they should seek out…those who are looking to expand their business into a larger market.”

But who is Mama Biscuit? Lesley Riley is a former restaurateur that has traveled her way up and down the East Coast. Originally from Pennsylvania, Riley credits her love of baking to her grandmother. Hear more about Lesley’s upbringing and journey into manufacturing in the video below.

This holiday season, try the top seasonal flavors recommended by Lesley – chocolate orange rum, cranberry cherry pistachio, or the biggest crowd pleaser, eggnog peppermint.

Riley opened her own restaurant in North Carolina before auditioning for the television competition Master Chef in New York. While Riley was ultimately eliminated from the show, she gained a following of supportive fans on social media that encouraged her to keep chasing her dreams.

She later moved to Maryland to be closer to family and jumped back into the kitchen to start her own biscuit company.

“When I started doing this in 2014, I had the goal to have 50 types of biscuits by the end of the year,” said Riley, who frequently brought her baked creations to her day job. Her coworkers provided open and honest feedback, allowing Riley to explore a variety of flavors with her test audience including chicken pot pie, apple pear pistachio, and Kahlúa stuffed brie.

Now available in more than 50 flavors – and a gluten-free alternative – Riley has high hopes for the business and hopes to get back into the creative side soon while still managing the business as a whole.

“We’re growing. We’re on that journey and we kind of want to see where it takes us. I can see an expansion here soon.. with Walmart, for sure,” Riley said.

Riley’s advice for up and coming entrepreneurs and small businesses is to have everything in line before you take the leap. To become America’s first gourmet biscuit baking company, Riley had to fly under the radar to avoid being ripped-off or replicated. In the end, it was worth the wait.

“Have a good attorney and accountant – have all your paperwork in order first. Don’t be so quick to quit your day job. Work your business until you can get it to a good point,” said Riley.

“A lot of the time, people will jump out too quickly. I think the key is to take your time with it and have everything in order.”

Stay tuned to MamaBiscuit.com for updates and future announcements.

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Categories: Maryland News

Add some Maryland holiday spirit to your celebration

Maryland Business News - Wed, Dec 6, 2017

As part of our #BuyLocalMD series this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce hopes to inspire you to explore the small businesses in your own community.

Get into the holiday spirit with help from our local breweries, wineries, and more. Here’s a toast to our favorite picks throughout Maryland.

Lost Ark Distilling Company
Based and bottled in Howard County, Lost Ark’s goal is to have you taste the spirit of Maryland with each and every sip. Named after the story of the first Maryland settlers, the company creates artisan-crafted spirits using as many locally-grown ingredients as possible.

The distillery even names its spirits after staples in Maryland’s history, including Anne Arundel – the wife of Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. Tip: The Terra Mariae Spiced Rum features hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and is perfect for any Christmas gathering.

MillStone
Known as an American farmhouse cidery, MillStone prides itself on being traditional, handmade, and delicious. Since 2011, MillStone’s single barrel fermenting method has created more than 1,500 batches of rustic cider, with no additives or filtering along the way. Visit the restored grist mill Friday through Sunday for tastings, or catch MillStone at local farmers markets until the end of December.

Scorpion Brewing Co.
Calvert County’s Scorpion Brewing Co. opened in October 2014 after running a successful Kickstarter campaign. The microbrewery stays true to its local heritage by naming the business after a fleet of ships that battled the British during the War of 1812. Visit on December 16 and bring your presents – the Calvert Marine Museum will be on hand to wrap gifts while you sample the brewery’s selection.

Dove Valley Vineyard and Winery
Built with the dream to create a family-legacy, Dove Valley is the first vineyard and winery in Cecil County. The business rests upon a 100 acre family farm in Rising Sun, where multiple generations of Hepbron family members hold the same passion close to their hearts. It looks like all their hard work is paying off – the winery has won a multitude of awards since 2009. Check out their accomplishments here.

Cushwa Brewing
Located in Western Maryland along the West Virginia border is Cushwa Brewing, which gets its name from the basin within the C&O Canal. The Cushwa team’s goal is to not only produce a stellar product, but also have a major positive impact in the community. We are sure the town of Williamsport is loving their presence.

Hoop Tea
Founded by Fell’s Point resident Danny Robinson, Hoop Tea is an adult iced tea manufactured in Ocean City. The tea – which is almost entirely organic – is brewed with tea leaves, purified water, organic cane sugar, herbs, fruit, and an old fermenting process is used to create the alcohol.

Robinson considers Hoop Tea a healthier alternative for the alcohol industry, with a focus on wellness and sustainability. The beverage is sold in environmentally-friendly pouches and currently available in bars and liquor stores throughout Maryland and the surrounding states. Find a seller near you. Tip: Pair the peach tea lemonade with your holiday meal.

Charm City Meadworks
The only meadery in Baltimore City, the founding of Charm City Meadworks was a joint effort between two Chesapeake Bay protectors and avid beer aficionados. Now co-owners, James Boicourt and Andrew Geffken turned their mead-making hobby into a full-time business adventure. This honey and water combination is taking Charm City by storm. Did you know that mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage in history?

Real Ale Revival
Built in a former bowling alley along the Chesapeake Bay, Real Ale Revival may be small but it certainly has a huge following. Proudly brewed in Cambridge, RAR offers 12 taps that are always changing. The brewery’s products are sold in various stores throughout Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Find a store near you.

The Urban Winery
Based in Silver Spring, The Urban Winery is a one-of-a-kind destination. It’s known as the first winery in the region to be located in an urban environment, and, it’s the closest winery to Washington, D.C. The winery also offers a “make your own wine” experience—the only one offered in the entire Mid Atlantic region. We can’t think of a better personalized gift for the holidays!

Discover more wineries, breweries, and distilleries in your area on VisitMaryland.org. Read even more #BuyLocalMD suggestions here.

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Categories: Maryland News

Buy local fresh Christmas trees in Maryland

Maryland Business News - Tue, Dec 5, 2017

As part of our #BuyLocalMD series this holiday season, the Maryland Department of Commerce hopes to inspire you to explore the small businesses in your own community.

Guest feature: Julie Oberg is the Communications Director for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Follow along with MDA @MdAgDept and Maryland’s Best @MdsBest.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is encouraging residents to support Maryland farmers and buy real, fresh cut, locally-grown Christmas trees, rather than artificial trees or those grown out of state. To showcase its support, the department is displaying a 27- foot Maryland-grown Norway Spruce Christmas tree at its headquarters in Annapolis.

“Christmas trees are an agricultural crop. They are grown to be cut, enjoyed and then new ones are planted again,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide wildlife habitat.”

Not only do real trees look and smell beautiful, they are also a renewable, recyclable resource that keep unwanted waste out of our landfills and are good for the environment. Artificial trees are often petroleum based, imported from overseas and do not biodegrade so they eventually end up in landfills forever. Buying locally grown trees, including choose-and-cut trees, supports family-owned farms and businesses, preserves farmland, and protects the environment.

At the end of the season, trees are recycled a number of ways, such as being chipped into mulch, that return important nutrients to the earth. While growing, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases and emit fresh oxygen, unlike artificial trees which are petroleum-based. When growing in open space, a 3-inch diameter Douglas-fir tree can reduce atmospheric carbon by 23 pounds and intercept 102 gallons of storm water runoff per year.

“Maryland farmers work year-round to provide customers with high-quality, fresh, fragrant Christmas trees for the holiday season,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Visiting a local farm to find the perfect Christmas tree is a great family activity and a fun way to spend an afternoon. Many Maryland farms have additional activities as well, such as sleigh rides and visits with Santa.”

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture for Maryland, there are more than 170 Christmas tree growers in the state with nearly 2,200 acres in production. In Maryland, Carroll County has the greatest number of cut Christmas tree farms with 20. Anne Arundel, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, and Montgomery round out the top six counties for Christmas tree production.

There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and more than 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry. Tree planting, shearing and mowing can take up to 65 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

To find a Christmas tree farm near you, visit marylandsbest.net. For more information on trees in Maryland, visit marylandchristmastrees.org.

Read recycling tips by clicking here, and check with your county about tree recycling programs. Lastly, click here for the department’s Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Fresh, Locally Grown Christmas Tree.

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Categories: Maryland News

Celebrating company milestones in Maryland

Maryland Business News - Wed, Nov 29, 2017

It’s been a great year for Maryland Commerce, and an even better year for the Maryland business community. I want to thank you all for everything you’ve done to help make Maryland open for business – our small businesses, large corporations, economic development partners, state agencies, and beyond.

As 2017 comes to an end, join me in honoring the companies celebrating milestone anniversaries throughout the state.

With 135 years, the longest-running milestone in this batch of businesses goes to The Baltimore Life Companies. This Owings Mills-based insurance company has been in business since 1882 and doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. Integrity, respect, and making a positive difference are three things that this company holds true to this day.

Next up is Von Paris Moving & Storage celebrating 125 years. The Von Paris story begins with a German immigrant who began his small business in the Baltimore Metropolitan region. Since 1892, this moving and storage company has expanded to five locations in the area and committed their focus to excellence and quality service.

Rounding out the 100+ year milestones is Shepherd Electric Supply, the oldest wholesale electrical distributor in the area. For 125 years, the company has provided the most extensive local inventory and served customers in commercial construction and facilities, lighting, government organizations, and more.

Other anniversaries happening around the state include Bell Flowers in Montgomery County (70 years), Celeste Industries in Talbot County (45 years), and Kelly Generator in Calvert County (25 years). Check out additional celebrations in the below photos.

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We’ll be back in 2018 with even more anniversaries to come. If your company is celebrating a milestone, be sure to send us an email with the details.

-Mike

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Categories: Maryland News

Dunlop Boots plans production expansion

Maryland Business News - Tue, Nov 28, 2017

Dunlop Protective Footwear, a leading global manufacturer of protective footwear located in Harford County, is planning to expand its United States-based production to meet market demands.

With assistance from a $100,000 training grant provided by the Maryland Department of Commerce, the company expects to nearly double the number of PVC boots and more than triple the number of Purofort® boots it manufactures by 2020. Dunlop provides protective footwear for workers in various industries including food processing, oil, gas, and mining, as well as agriculture and construction.

“Thanks to the diligence of our CFO Michael Witte and partnership with the state, we are extremely excited to continue to innovate and staff our American-based manufacturing plant with this grant,” said Mary Steinebrunner, general manager of Dunlop Protective Footwear USA. “We have been fortunate enough to have generations of families be part of Dunlop and this investment will help us to continue to grow the business and ensure that the next generation will be part of the Dunlop family as well.”

Dunlop Protective Footwear started its American manufacturing as Bata Footwear in 1939, and moved to its current location in Havre de Grace in 2001. Today, the company prides itself on innovating and manufacturing high-quality protective boots with a focus on safety and comfort. In 2017, Dunlop started producing its iconic Purofort® boots in the USA, and the company’s products are currently available in more than 50 countries throughout the world.

Maryland Commerce’s grant is through the Partnership for Workforce Quality (PWQ) program, which will be used to help train employees in software development and integration. The PWQ program was established in 1989 to invest in workforce training, particularly in the manufacturing and technology fields. After not receiving funding for a number of years, the program was recapitalized with $1 million in Maryland Commerce’s FY2018 budget and was part of Governor Larry Hogan’s 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative.

“Workforce training is a critical tool in fostering an innovative economic climate where businesses can grow and add jobs,” said Governor Hogan.

READ MORE.

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Categories: Maryland News

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center: Maryland’s hidden gem of knowledge

Maryland Business News - Tue, Nov 28, 2017

Few Marylanders know that just 25 miles from the nation’s capital is a 2,650-acre campus of protected shoreline and ecological research in their backyards. On the shores of Edgewater, Md., the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) provides educational programs for everyone from kindergartners to seniors in high school, with the goal of inspiring the next generation to become stewards of the earth.

Established in 1965, SERC has been conducting groundbreaking research to understand the intricacies of the rapid change in the state’s most precious natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Dr. Anson Hines, director and principal investigator at SERC for almost 40 years, says the findings at the center have led to the passage of critical legislation including responsible land development, planting forest buffer zones and wetlands that prevent soil erosion, sustaining the blue crab fishery, and more.

“Maryland’s quality of life and our natural resources depend on the ecosystems of the watershed and ocean linked through our rivers and the Bay,” Dr. Hines said. “What we do at the Smithsonian is provide sound science for conserving, restoring and managing these valuable resources that everyone depends on.” SERC’s research extends to other sites around the world, including San Francisco Bay, Alaska, Florida, Belize, Panama, and as far south as Antarctica.

From left to right: Dr. Anson “Tuck” Hines, Maryland Commerce’s Kris Shock and Secretary Mike Gill, and Guy Johnson, SERC Board Member

SERC is one of the largest landowners in Anne Arundel County, with 2,650 acres and 15 miles of Chesapeake shoreline, providing hiking, canoeing and kayaking for visitors to enjoy. The center also provides university-level internships, and welcomes more than 250 international visitors and 6,000 local student visitors each year. But SERC is still not widely known outside of the realm of academia, a challenge that Dr. Hines says the staff is committed to overcoming.

“One of our big goals is to increase our public profile and engagement through a wide-range of outreach programs to help solve environmental problems,” said Dr. Hines. “Our Bay Optimism program focuses on the success of bay research and implemented changes that provide positive environmental solutions. We are also training the next generation of research scientists, and building an army of citizen scientist volunteers.”

The programs provided by the center – like its free monthly evening lecture series – are an incredibly valuable resource for the public of all ages. According to Dr. Hines, there is more environmental awareness in today’s society than ever before, but the Chesapeake’s health still has progress to make.

“People are much more attuned with the idea of watershed health and how what runs off the land affects the bay,” Dr. Hines said. “I’ve been working with the Chesapeake Bay for nearly 40 years, and there’s definitely been positive change, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

For more information about the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center visit serc.si.edu.

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Categories: Maryland News

EMR announces new leadership in third generation president

Maryland Business News - Mon, Nov 27, 2017

When Caroline Kauffman-Kirschnick began working for the family business as a high schooler, her biggest concern was not getting a dial tone when answering the phones. She never imagined that decades later she would step into her father’s shoes as the new president of Electric Motor Repair Co. (EMR).

“I remember the first thing I learned when I moved up to taking phone calls in the parts department was to ask whether the motor in question was electric or gas,” Kauffman-Kirschnick recalled. “One day I got a call inquiring about a broken refrigerator and without thinking I immediately asked, ‘is it electric or gas?’ The person on the other end of the line quickly hung up on me.”

But over the years, Kauffman-Kirschnick learned the ins-and-outs of motor and appliance repair and the company’s many departments, including sales and accounts receivable, before finding her niche in human resources.

“When I moved to an assistant position in our HR department, I became more interested in my role and remained there for five years,” Kauffman-Kirschnick said. “I learned a lot about our employees needs during this time and eventually moved to operations and managerial roles.”

For 90 years EMR has served the Mid-Atlantic region through their two divisions, the Industrial Division and the Commercial Cooking and Refrigeration Division. Kauffman-Kirschnick’s grandfather and company founder, Harry Kauffman, appointed her father, Roger Kauffman, as the new president in 1985. Since then, the company has been successful in providing customers with quality repairs and service through well-trained, quality employees.

EMR has always called Baltimore home and this year was recognized as one of the 2017 Best Employers in Maryland by The Daily Record. Kauffman-Kirschnick attributes the company’s success to their work environment and culture.

“Through all three generations of leadership, the importance of our company’s culture has remained the common thread,” Kauffman-Kirschnick said. “Everyone who works here is an extension of our family and each individual plays a critical role in the success of EMR.”

As president, Kauffman-Kirschnick says it is her goal to grow the company through this family philosophy.

“From a financial standpoint I’d love to double the revenue of EMR in order to do more for our employees,” Kauffman-Kirschnick said. “I want to continue to expand geographically and be the dominant service company in the Mid-Atlantic area. Ultimately, I want to do this by building on our family culture because that raises morale and makes our employees best serve the customer.”

For more information about Electric Motor Repair Co. visit emrco.com.

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Categories: Maryland News

Celebrate Small Business Saturday in Maryland

Maryland Business News - Thu, Nov 16, 2017

In conjunction with Small Business Saturday on November 26th, the Maryland Department of Commerce encourages Maryland residents to explore their neighborhoods and support local businesses. Show us how you shop small on Twitter with #ShopSmall and #BuyLocalMD @MDBiz.

It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping! With Small Business Saturday quickly approaching, let Maryland’s small towns and local businesses help ease you into the gift-giving season.

No matter where you live, each Maryland region has a plethora of neighborhoods participating in the #ShopSmall trend. In fact, the Kauffman Index recently ranked Maryland’s Main Street entrepreneurship sixth among the top 25 larger states – meaning the number of small businesses established and thriving in Maryland is growing.

Here are our top picks for Small Business Saturday around Maryland.

Capital Region
More than 40 small businesses are participating in a local community fair at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Admission is free and includes access to arts and crafts, face painting for the kids, a gift-wrapping station, and more. Bring the kids to the shops along Bethesda Row, where a Kidville play area will be set up for children ages 6 and under. A holiday vendor fair is also taking place at the Mall at Prince George’s from 10AM – 8PM.

Central Maryland
Drive to Maryland’s capital and attend the opening day of HERE, a holiday pop-up shop in Annapolis. Local designers are ready to show off their unique collections to the Small Business Saturday shoppers. The Sykesville Holiday Marketplace also takes place on Saturday, with nearly 200 vendors at the Carroll County Farm Museum. Or, head north to the small businesses of downtown Bel Air, where dozens of shops are celebrating the unofficial holiday. Tip: prepare for your shopping spree by participating in a Charm City Run – taking place in Frederick, Fells Point, and everywhere in-between.

Eastern Shore
Grab a bite by the water in St. Michaels, where you can shop, eat, play, and stay all day long. Downtown Chestertown is helping shoppers by handing out shopping passports with special store offers. Princess Anne in Somerset County is also getting into the mix – the transformative town participated in Small Business Saturday for the first time last year, and plans to host specials again next week. Tip: fun for the entire family can be found at Salisbury’s City Park ice skating rink!

Southern Maryland
One of the region’s strongest Small Business Saturday showings comes from the La Plata Business Association. Now an annual tradition, it’s the town’s favorite shopping day of the year. In St. Mary’s County, the Flat Iron Farm Christmas Village kicks off next week. Located in Great Mills, there’s plenty to see and buy, including a petting zoo, candy cane house, country stores, handmade crafts, and jellies and jams. Finish the night off with the annual tree lighting ceremony in Leonardtown.

Western Maryland
Cumberland’s holiday market is kicking off with local artisans and handmade items in the galleries on Centre Street. Washington County’s artisan market – featuring local farmers and crafters – is taking place at the Premium Outlets of Hagerstown. Frostburg’s citywide promotion offers prizes, freebies, and special discounts throughout the downtown shops. Finish the night off with Lights by the Lake at Rocky Gap State Park, a synchronized music and light show with more than 150,000 lights!

For previous years and even more suggestions, read through our Small Business Saturday archive.

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Categories: Maryland News

Sinclair Broadcast Group to add nearly 400 new jobs

Maryland Business News - Wed, Nov 15, 2017

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country, announced today that it is retaining its Hunt Valley headquarters and investing $12 million to accommodate its Baltimore County operations.

The company, which has 333 employees in Maryland, plans to add 367 full-time employees, targeting 700 full-time employees by the end of 2023.

“Sinclair has been growing and has tripled in size in the last six years. Now, our momentum continues as we roll out our plans to double that growth and our size over the coming five years. This is an exciting time for Sinclair as we work toward the completion of our acquisition of Tribune Media Company,” said Chris Ripley, president & CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Sinclair, through its portfolio of television broadcast stations, is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of live sports content, and owner of multiple emerging networks, four radio stations and the Tennis Channel.

“Companies, like Sinclair, that choose to grow their business in our great state, further demonstrate our administration’s commitment to ensuring Maryland remains open for business. This is tremendous news for Baltimore County and our state,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

READ MORE.

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Categories: Maryland News

Amazon selects Tradepoint Atlantic for new distribution center

Maryland Business News - Wed, Nov 8, 2017

Amazon has officially announced plans to construct an 855,000 square-foot fulfillment center at Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County and bring 1,500 new jobs to the region.

The company currently employs more than 5,000 full-time associates at three existing facilities in Baltimore City and Cecil County. Associates at the new facility will pick, pack, and ship customer items such as electronics, books, housewares, and toys.

“We’re excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in historic Sparrows Point and to continue innovating in a state committed to providing great opportunities for jobs and customer experience. Maryland has an incredible workforce, and we are happy to add to the more than 5,000 associates already serving customers in the state,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon’s vice president of North America Customer Fulfillment.

“Amazon’s decision to open a fourth facility in our state is tremendous news for this local community and for Maryland as a whole,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Successfully delivering this project and these 1,500 new jobs has been a top priority of our administration and another example of how Maryland is and will continue to be open for business.”

To assist with project costs, the Maryland Department of Commerce has approved a $2 million conditional loan through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF). Additionally, Baltimore County has approved a $200,000 conditional loan to assist with development costs at the new facility. The company is also eligible for various state and local tax credits, including Maryland’s Job Creation Tax Credit.

Read more.

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Categories: Maryland News

Maryland promotes computer science, STEM workforce

Maryland Business News - Wed, Nov 8, 2017

Last week, Governor Larry Hogan announced a new plan called the ACCESS Initiative – or Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide – to boost education and workforce development in the field throughout Maryland.

The ACCESS Initiative fulfills the governor’s commitment to strengthening computer science education throughout Maryland, which will help meet workforce demands of the 21st century. According to the recent announcement, there is an estimated 500,000 open computing jobs in the country, and more than 115,000 open computer-science related jobs in Maryland.

“For nearly three years, our administration has worked tirelessly to build an unrivaled ecosystem of innovation and economic growth in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “We want to make sure that Marylanders have the tools and the skills they need to compete for 21st century jobs.”

“In this rapidly-evolving job landscape, states that have access to a highly trained workforce will have a major advantage. Maryland simply must continue to lead the way, and closing this skills gap begins with a focus on education. We must spark the interest of students – particularly girls – beginning at an even younger age, and we must inspire high school and college students to pursue careers in computer science,” the governor continued.

The governor also signed an Executive Order that will direct the Task Force on Cybersecurity and Information Technology to study opportunities on how to grow the number of computer science graduates from local universities, as well as growing diversity within the sector. Read more about the announcement here.

The governor’s announcement arrives as the third annual Maryland STEM Festival takes place throughout the state. The festival encourages students to take an interest in STEM and learn about future job opportunities in the field. From the mountains of Garrett County to the Eastern Shore’s “friendliest town” of Pocomoke, there is an event happening for every type of student. Learn more about the festival on marylandstemfestival.org.

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Categories: Maryland News

Celebrate Maryland entrepreneurs this Veterans Day

Maryland Business News - Tue, Nov 7, 2017

As we celebrate Veterans Appreciation Month, we recognize our local veteran-owned businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Maryland. Here at Maryland Commerce, we proudly support veterans in a number of ways, including managing two specific programs targeted towards hiring veterans and veteran-owned businesses.

The Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business Loan Program provides no-interest loans to veterans, National Guard personnel, military reservists, and more to help offset financing costs for one to eight years. Additionally, the Hire Our Veterans Tax Credit provides small businesses with a state income tax credit for hiring qualified veterans after January 1, 2017.

Over the past year, a variety of businesses have taken advantage of our veteran-based programs to add office space and new jobs across the state.

Thel Moore Sr. (left) and Thel Moore Jr. (right)

Based in Baltimore County, Moore’s Income Tax Service looked to the veteran loan program to grow its company and expand to a new location. Founded in 1976, the Moore’s family-owned business is now run by its second generation and has grown from the family’s basement to an office space in Randallstown. By being able to cover expenses for the new location – including equipment, computer systems, and furniture – Moore’s has expanded its reach and landed new clients in Baltimore and Carroll Counties.

“I am grateful to have served in uniform for this country and now I am humbled to have the opportunity to grow the family business my father started as a veteran,” said president Thel Moore Jr., a veteran of the United States Army. “If you have the passion to run your own business, go for it and make a difference. Try to use all the veteran assistance programs available to you – it can be a great help.”

Scooter Equipment Inc., a personal mobility company that sells, rents, and repairs equipment, believes working hard and doing the right thing will carry businesses to success. Located in Elkridge, the company is run by husband and wife Brian and Susanna Taylor and focuses the majority of its service on in-home repairs and installations, such as fixing power chairs and scooters and installing chairlifts. The veteran-owned business is proud to be living the American dream and appreciates servicing those in need in the local community and beyond.

“Knowledge is a big thing. Know your business, know what you’re doing, and have a good financial person that can keep things going,” said Brian, a Navy veteran and owner and president of Scooter Equipment. “You can’t wait for the business to come to you – you have to go out there and get it, and you have to work hard at it.”

If you are a veteran interested in doing business in Maryland, or you want to learn about veteran-specific programs, visit commerce.maryland.gov. For even more veteran information, visit the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Categories: Maryland News

Celebrate Maryland Veterans Appreciation Month

Maryland Business News - Tue, Oct 31, 2017

The State of Maryland is celebrating Veterans Appreciation Month and honoring military veterans during the month of November with a series of programs, exhibits, and special offers at attractions and businesses throughout the state. The initiative is a joint effort between the Maryland Office of Tourism, Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland Public Television (MPT), and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Maryland’s veterans are an integral part of the fabric of our great state, and they deserve to be respected and remembered. During Maryland’s Veterans Appreciation Month, there are many ways to pay tribute to the great heroes who sacrificed so much for our state and our nation,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We encourage everyone to visit Maryland’s veterans’ memorials and Welcome Centers to learn their stories and thank them for their selfless service.”

The “MPT Salutes Vietnam Veterans” exhibit will be featured at all eight state-operated Welcome Centers simultaneously and showcase current-day and wartime images of 16 men and women along with their recollections of incidents from the war. Also included is an opportunity for children to color pages to thank veterans as well as stationery for visitors to craft messages to veterans or share their own stories.

Also at the Welcome Centers, the Maryland State Highway Administration’s “Fallen Heroes” exhibit will feature a picture of the service member, a brief write-up about their service and sacrifice, and location information on the road sign erected in their honor. SHA has also created an online map created to help visitors plan stops at Maryland’s veteran memorials. The interactive map features markers denoting memorials across the state, from Sideling Hill in Hancock to Veterans Memorial Park in Ocean Pines.

In addition, veterans will also be able to get new Veterans Appreciation Month Passports at the Welcome Centers. The Veterans Passport offers special discounts during November at a number of Maryland businesses, including: Arundel Mills Mall, Hagerstown Premium Outlets, Tanger Outlets at National Harbor, SoldierFit, Six Flags Maryland, Route 1 Apparel, and more.

The Office of Tourism’s website features special events that will be taking place throughout the month. Visit www.visitmaryland.org/veterans-month for details.

 

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Categories: Maryland News

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