Archives For April 2011

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

A delegation from Rhode Island listens to a presentation by UMB Health Sciences and Research Park Corporation President Jim Hughes. In the front row, from left to right: Rhode Island Speaker Gordon Fox; DBED Secretary Christian Johansson; Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch; and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed and Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, and other Rhode Island officials, visited the University of Maryland Baltimore’s BioPark on a fact-finding mission to develop a life sciences-centered urban economic development based on the UMB Biopark model.

Map of the UMB Biopark. The Biopark is located across the University of Maryland Medical Center. The link between education and economic development is critical and a key reason why Maryland has been able to move its life sciences industry forward.

The delegation arrived this morning and took a walking tour of the University of Maryland Medical Center, including the Nursing, Dental, Medical and Pharmacy schools.  The delegation then met with Maryland officials, including DBED Secretary Christian Johansson, Speaker of the House Michael Busch, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, for a working lunch session.

“Governor Chafee, Mayor Taveras, Senate President Paiva-Weed, House Speaker Fox and esteemed guests from Rhode Island, I want to thank you for calling on us to learn more about how Maryland has positioned itself as a leader in the life sciences,” Secretary Johansson said.

“The success of this park is due largely in part to the tremendous collaboration that we have had with academia and our research parks around the State.”

In the past five years, the UMB Biopark has built three research buildings totaling 475,000 square feet, has generated $180 million in capital investment and created 427 jobs to date.  Baltimore City donated the 10 acres of land for the University, and the State of Maryland provided a $4 million Sunny Day loan to tenants for build-out costs for Building One of the Biopark.  The Biopark received a $1 million no interest loan from TEDCO that was matched by the Park’s developer, Wexford Science & Technology, which supported the building of the BioInnovation Center.

University officials stressed the important link between educational institutions and economic development.  In 2009 alone, employment in the biosciences was at 30,000, with an average annual salary of $80,000.  From 2002 to 2007, University bioscience research grew from $878 million to $1.3 billion.

“Last year, we awarded more than $1 million in grants to assist in commercializing promising research, encouraging bio companies to collaborate with academic institutions and expand biotechnology resources.  And we have continued to grow our very successful Biotech Tax Credit program, funded at $8 million again this year to help emerging bio companies leverage seed and early stage funding,” Secretary Johansson said.

To date, the Biotech Tax Credit program has enabled dozens of Maryland bio companies to raise more than $60 million from investors.  Companies, like Gliknik, who received almost $3 million from 2007 to 2009, are located at the UMB Biopark.  Gliknik was among the companies that Governor Chafee visited during his tour of the Biopark.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Naming a company is one of the most important decisions to make.  The name defines who the company is, what the company is about, and whether it will withstand the test of time.  When Delali Dzirasa, President and Founder of Fearless Solutions, developed his company name, he had this in mind.

Founded in 2009, the company is a cybersecurity start-up housed at UMBC’s @bwtech cybersecurity research and technology park.  The company currently focuses primarily on secure software development, and has several contracts with the federal government.

Dzirasa was part of a press event on April 21, opening and celebrating UMBC’s @bwtech research and technology park as a cyber hub for start-up companies looking to make a mark in the cybersecurity industry. Since opening in the past 16 months, the number of cybersecurity companies in the research and technology park has jumped from one to 17.  Fearless shares space with companies like Cyber Map who developed an online map displaying Maryland’s cyber resources to help facilitate networking among cyber companies.

President and Founder of Fearless Solutions, Delali Dzirasa, works hard to wrap up a security software project.

Dzirasa, a UMBC graduate, said that while he was in the process of forming his company he read two books that influenced him tremendously on how he would run his company and how it would be formed.  The first book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, motivated Dzirasa to build a company that will withstand the tests of time.  The book, based on research by Collins and Porras, examines companies that have been in existence for nearly 100 years – like Proctor & Gamble (a Maryland-based company) and 3M – that have endured despite a multitude of changing times.

“I had this book, Built to Last, on my shelf for seven years but never read it.  When I decided to start a business, I finally started to read it,” he said.  “This influenced me in how I named the company and how I defined what the company would be.  I want this company to be viable, visionary.  Visionary companies determine who they want to be before they decide what they want to sell.”

The Purple Cow is one of the two books that influenced Dzirasa's company philosophy. Copies of the book are in every office at the company.

The other book, The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin tells entrepreneurs how to transform their companies by standing out from others.  Its main mantra, “be remarkable” is one of the key principles Dzirasa stands by.  In fact, throughout the Fearless Solutions office, the color purple is prominent, reminding Dzirasa and his nine employees to be remarkable in the work they do every day.   Employees are required to read the book before beginning work with the company.

Since forming in 2009, Dzirasa has hired five full-time and four part-time employees and is continuing to hire as they acquire more contracts.  The average age for employees at the company is 28.  Three of the employees, all interns, are UMBC students.

Dzirasa’s enthusiasm to develop a company that is truly visionary is infectious.  It’s hard not to want to check out the two books he based his company philosophy on (MDBizMedia already has it on the “To Read” list).

A computer engineer major, Dzirasa was also heavily involved in the entrepreneurship program at UMBC and knew early on that he wanted to start his own company.  Throughout his education, he interned at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and also shadowed the then Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, Aris MelissaratosHe graduated from UMBC in 2004 and took on a programming job at a company called Raba.

“I thought it was a really good opportunity and I told them I was interested, but I told them that if I could come there and learn the business side of the company and not just get stuck in front of a desk programming, that it would be a good fit.  They agreed and I began working there in 2004,” he said.

Soon after getting his feet wet, the company won two $100 million contracts and the program manager asked Dzirasa to help get the contract off the ground.

“Literally overnight, I became his right hand man and needless to say, I learned a lot,” he said.

The company was later acquired by SRA, and Dzirasa, ready for a new challenge and wanting to remain in a smaller company atmosphere left.  That was 2008.

A year later, after learning the processes of creating a company and acquiring federal contracts, he officially filed paperwork to form Fearless Solutions.

“Cybersecurity is huge now.  In our generation alone, we’ve seen a rise in the use of smartphones, the rise of applications, the rise of social media – all things that are rising at a very fast pace, but cybersecurity is not matching that same pace,” he said.

The company moved to the @bwtech cyber incubator in June 2010.  As in any start-up, work hours are endless, but his staff remains upbeat.  Dzirasa holds a staff meeting two Thursdays a month and orders pizza for his team while they go over business.

Delali Dzirasa talks with Governor Martin O'Malley at the cyber incubator opening.

Although his company currently develops secure software technologies, he doesn’t want his company to be categorized as another federal contracting company.  The goal, Dzirasa said, is to develop innovative technologies that meet the consumer demand of security for those software applications that are introduced at quick speed, and to deploy security software to defend before new applications are introduced.

“We need to learn how to defend these things before they are deployed, instead of figuring out how to defend after they have been created.  These new software technologies, while they are great, are introducing new threats that people aren’t looking at, and we are hoping to address that in the commercial market.”

The Business of Weddings

MDbizMedia —  April 27, 2011

Recession or not, weddings are big business for Maryland's economy.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

With the Royal Wedding just days away, millions of families across the pond and across America will be watching this historic occasion. The wedding alone is predicted to bring in as much as $1 billion into the British economy, not including the sales of memorabilia.

Whether it’s a royal occasion, or a backyard soiree, weddings, in general, mean big business for many states. The industry itself is made up of multiple enterprises, making it difficult for economists to pinpoint exact numbers on how much of an economic boom weddings provide, but the research is out there.

Every year, an average of 2.4 million weddings are held in the U.S., and a total of approximately $72 billion is spent on weddings annually. In Maryland, in particular, according to The Wedding Report, a wedding industry research group, the average cost of a wedding in 2006 was $32,710.

In Maryland, there are approximately 500 catering, rental formal wear and photography companies employing about 5,000 employees in Maryland, bringing in over $300 million in sales, a large percentage of which are generated from weddings.

“May, June, September and October are the busiest months in the wedding season. For us, the wedding season is our busiest,” said Evie Turner, Vice President of The Main Ingredient, a catering company in Annapolis.

Turner said that fifty percent of their catering business is generated by weddings, with May and September being their busiest times of the year when they also cater graduation events and events for the Naval Academy.

“For the past two years, obviously, there has been a big impact on the wedding industry. People were still having them, but on a smaller scale and on a smaller budget. But it seems to be coming back this year. People are willing to add more guests to their invitation list or adding more stations to their menu. I would say that in 2011 more people are definitely spending more money on their weddings,” Turner said.

The Gramercy Mansionin Baltimore hosts weddings and events year round. The 45-acre picturesque venue offers landscaped gardens for wedding ceremonies, as well as amenities for out-of-town guests.

A couple is wed on the picturesque grounds of Gramercy Mansion in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Gramercy Mansion.

“I would say ninety-eight percent of our business is from weddings. We are also a bed and breakfast – we have 11 overnight rooms. Business is definitely up for us. Just like the funeral business, even in tough times, people still get married,” Bill Duffy, Executive Innkeeper for Gramercy, said.

The mansion is hosting six events this weekend, 4 of which are weddings, and one a rehearsal dinner, which Duffy said were booked way in advance.

In general, there are over 5,000 self-employed individuals working in catering and photography in Maryland, bringing in an estimated $100 million in sales. Florists also play a huge role in weddings and can account for a large part of a wedding budget.

Ellen Frost, owner of Local Color Flowers, a florist shop specializing in floral design using sustainable flowers from local growers, said her business success is generated in large part from weddings.

A spring bouquet designed by Local Color Flower. Photo courtesy of the Local Color Flower blog.

“Ninety percent of Local Color Flowers work is wedding work. With the economic downturn in the last couple years we are still seeing couples spending money on their wedding,” Frost said.

“While they continue to spend, we see them making more socially conscious decisions with the money they are spending: locally grown flowers and food, organics, natural venues and reusable, recyclable, and compostable items. Couples want to feel good about the large amounts of money they are spending for their weddings,” she said.

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. increased by 22.9 percent in 2010, according to the Wedding Report, from $19,581 in 2009 to $24,066 in 2010.

“We believe that renewed consumer confidence and an increase in the number of guests from 128 in 2009 to 141 in 2010 contributed to the increase in spending and demand for products and services,” the report said.

With the recession coming to a close and consumer confidence gaining, the 2011 wedding season could be a boost for Maryland’s wedding industry, as well as Maryland’s economy.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Educational levels of American adults for 2010. Graphic courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau.

Thirty-seven percent of women among the employed population ages 25 and over obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 35 percent of men as of 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today.  The report showed that among all adults 25 and older, 29.6 percent of women and 30.3 percent of men had at least a bachelor’s degree.

“In general terms, these data confirm the resilience of a persistent trend during the past 20 to 25 years, during which women have become more likely to pursue higher education and complete their degree while the opposite has applied to men,” said Ben Passmore, assistant vice chancellor for administration and finance for the University System of Maryland.

“The trend has particular ramifications for Maryland at both ends of the achievement spectrum. In populations that have not traditionally gone to college (under-represented minorities, low-income and first-generation students), female students significantly outperform their male counterparts — even more significantly than in the population as a whole.”

The 2010 report also showed that 87 percent of adults 25 and older had at least a high school diploma or equivalent, up from 84 percent in 2000.  The number of adults 25 and older that had at least a bachelor’s degree increased in 2010 to 30 percent, compared to the 26 percent in 2000.

The data was derived from the recent report, Educational Attainment in the United States, 2010 and examined the differences in education attainment of each gender, as well as demographic and socioeconomic factors.   According to the Census, “data on educational attainment are derived from a single question that asks, ‘What is the highest grade of school…has completed, or the highest degree…has received?’ This question was first implemented in the 1990 Decennial Census and changed in the Current Population Survey in 1992.”

“The challenge for higher education generally is to continue to support the students for whom we are expending considerable efforts to open access to higher education and ensure success. Women remain less likely to pursue majors in science and mathematics, a critical focal point for economic development in Maryland,” Passmore said.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Dozens of legislators, sponsors and supporters of the InvestMaryland legislation gathered last week in celebration of the bill’s passage at the end of the 2011 legislative session.  Supporters gathered at the Chesapeake Innovation Center to recognize the efforts of those who helped push the bill to passage.

Supporters of the InvestMaryland bill gather at the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Annapolis to celebrate the passage of the bill. From Left to Right: Bob Hannon, President, Anne Arundel County Economic Development Commission; Sara Djamshidi, Executive Director, Chesapeake Innovation Center; Rob Rosenbaum, Executive Director-TEDCO; Brian Darmody, University of Maryland

The Department’s InvestMaryland legislation overwhelmingly passed with a 94-43 vote, helping to fuel venture capital investments in Maryland’s startup companies. Through the legislation, the Department’s Enterprise Fund and Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) will receive $70 million in total funding for fiscal years 2012 through 2014.  The funding is provided through a tax credit for insurance companies that make qualified contributions to the program through premium tax credits. The Department can award a maximum of $100 million in tax credits.  If qualified investments made under the program are successful, money will be returned to the State. The bill takes effect July 1, 2011.

Mahi Reddy (in yellow tie), CEO of SemaConnect, talks with reception attendees. Reddy, a serial entrepreneur, started SemaConnect to fill the demand of electric charging stations for the new generation of electric vehicles. Reddy was a major supporter of the InvestMaryland bill.

DBED Secretary Christian Johansson talks with Senator Rob Garagiola, District 15-MD at the InvestMaryland Recognition.

March 3, 2013: We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, originally published in April 2011. Please be sure to check out the latest news about business in Maryland on the MDBiz News home page.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Mary Sue has been making Easter candy eggs since 1948.

After Christmas, the busiest shopping days for most businesses are typically over. But as the December holidays draw to a close, Mary Sue Candies wraps up their Christmas production to prepare for its busiest season of the year: Easter. For over 50 years, the Baltimore-based chocolate candy company has been producing mass amounts of chocolate candy eggs for Easter baskets across the nation.

“Easter is our busiest time of year—we produce millions if not tens of millions of eggs for the holiday,” Bill Buppert, President of Mary Sue Candies, said.

Mary Sue workers begin their shift early in the morning at 5:30 and work 10 hour days (but only work 4 days a week).  Working in staggered shifts, a Mary Sue factory worker’s day can include anything from mixing the ingredients that go into each egg, to shaping and decorating, and packaging each egg to be sold in stores.

“This job takes a lot of hand-eye coordination. Candy making is a very special trade and requires a unique food background,” Buppert said. “All of our eggs truly are handmade.”


Mary Sue was founded by the Spector and Ashton family in 1948.

“Mr. Ashton had two daughters, one named Mary and one named Sue, and that’s where the company name came from,” Buppert said. “They both went on to become nuns. Mary, sadly, passed away, but Sue still stops by a few times a year to pick up candy for the nuns.”

The families started making the chocolate candies in a small Baltimore rowhouse. As sales grew and the company expanded, it began to acquire more of the rowhouses next door. But they eventually grew out of that space, and built and opened a factory on Caton Avenue in Baltimore in 1955, where the candies are still being made.

Mary Sue’s famous coconut cream Easter eggs are placed on a conveyor belt to be wrapped up to send to stores.

In 1996, Mary Sue merged with Naron, a high end chocolate company, which has been in existence since 1905. In 2001, Buppert and his family, who owned Ruxton Chocolates, purchased the company from the Spector family. Today, the company employs approximately 50 people, many of whom have been with the Mary Sue family for years.

“One of the things that sets us apart is that we are a small company and we stayed true to our roots. We make sure that the quality of our products is up to the standards of our customers—many of whom have been buying our products for 50 to 60 years.  This was their Easter tradition and they have passed it on to their kids and their grandkids,” Buppert said.

Mary Sue’s Pink Bunny can be seen from the Jones Falls Expressway in Baltimore during the Easter season.

The company also has a warehouse, where they store the candies, located in the Clipper Mill industrial park off of the Jones Falls Expressway. It is most recognizable by the giant pink Easter Bunny that sits on the roof during the Easter season.

“Baltimore is who we are, and Maryland is a very important part of who we are as a company. Fifty years from now, I fully expect to see Mary Sue’s factory and corporate offices in Maryland and in Baltimore,” Buppert said.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Officials cut the ribbon to officially open the Advantage Incubator, Maryland s first incubator dedicated exclusively to cybersecurity technologies and companies.

State, local and federal officials, including Governor Martin O’Malley, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, today gathered at UMBC’s bwtech campus to open the new Advantage Incubator, Maryland’s first incubator dedicated exclusively to cybersecurity technologies and companies.

The Incubator has partnered with Northrop Grumman to develop the “Cync” program, which allows companies to draw on UMBC’s, bwtech’s and Northrop Grumman’s research expertise and resources to develop technology that will secure and protect computer hardware, software and networks vital to national defense.

“This is the door of opportunity and I believe that we will seize the day.  What we are developing here are jobs that are going to protect America – jobs that aren’t going on a slow boat to China or a fast track to Mexico.  These are jobs that will determine the safety and security of the United States of America,” said Senator Mikulski.

Part of UMBC’s research park and Advantage Incubator, the 110,000 square foot building houses 16 companies that are developing innovative technologies to protect and secure computer systems, including networks vital to national defense.

Cyber Map, one of the sixteen companies located in the Advantage Incubator, has developed an online map displaying Maryland’s cyber resources to help facilitate networking among cyber companies.  His company also developed Cyber Hive, a program and space that allows out-of-state companies to establish a presence in Maryland and access cyber resources and opportunities.

Rick Geritz, CEO of Cyber Map, developed an online map displaying Maryland’s cyber resources to help facilitate networking among cyber companies.

Rick Geritz, CEO of Cyber Map, developed an online map displaying Maryland’s cyber resources to help facilitate networking among cyber companies.

“Through Cyber Map, we have been able to use software technology to organize all of the people, technology and infrastructure assets of the state of Maryland to unify and create a common voice of why Maryland is the epicenter of cybersecurity,” CEO of Cyber Map, Rick Geritz, said.

The company has organized over 3,000 companies that are outside the state of Maryland but in cybersecurity to help those companies create trusted connections and partnerships within the State.

Brent Greene, President of Advanced Technology Solutions for Telcordia, said although his company has a global presence, establishing a location in Maryland was critical.  The company develops mobile, broadband and enterprise communications software and services. The company is the first major company to establish a presence in Baltimore County as a result of the 2005 BRAC decisions.

“As a Maryland resident, I know firsthand what the State offers for businesses and their employees.  While Telcordia is a global company, with labs and offices around the world, we realized we really needed to expand how centric we were in the Maryland area here in Maryland and in UMBC,” said Greene.

UMBC opened its bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park in 1989.  What began as two trailers has evolved into a 71-acre campus engaged in research, entrepreneurship and economic development.  bwtech@UMBC’s annual economic impact on the state is estimated to be more than $300 million.  UMBC ranks fourth among U.S. research universities in the production of IT degrees and certificates.

With the goal to position Maryland as the epicenter of cybersecurity for the nation, the CyberMaryland initiative was launched in January 2010 to bring together federal, state and local government; private businesses; academia; and workforce to address challenges to the security of our nation’s digital infrastructure.

First Time Rate Below 7 Percent in 2 Years

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that nearly 12,000 more Marylanders are employed. Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics today reported that Maryland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent from 7.1 percent as the number of employed Marylanders jumped by nearly 12,000. Maryland’s unemployment rate remains below the national average, 8.8 percent.

“The state unemployment rate is now below 7% for the first time in two years,” said Maryland State Economist, Alfred Goyburu.  “Since early last year, unemployment in western Maryland and the nine eastern shore counties has improved more than in the rest of the state. The seasonally unadjusted rate has fallen by 1.3 percent in the nine eastern shore counties and by 1.2 percent in western Maryland.”

March’s numbers showed little to no change for most of the nation, but 34 states across the country saw a decrease in unemployment rates from last month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Forty-four states, including Maryland, saw a decrease in unemployment rates compared to a year earlier.

Maryland nonfarm payroll jobs (seasonally adjusted) fell by 5,900 during the month. Sometimes the official statistics for number of employed persons and job creation can move in different directions. Two separate surveys are used to estimate each set of statistics and random fluctuations can pull the surveys in opposite directions.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

MaryLand of Opportunity Logo wins Silver ADDY award.

The State’s Department of Business and Economic Development won a Silver ADDY award in the category of Elements of Advertising from the American Advertising Federation Baltimore.  In its 37th year of celebration, the competition draws more than 50,000 entries.

Last month, MDBizMedia reported on the agency’s next phase of the Land of Opportunity campaign, which is expected to launch this spring. The campaign, launched in December of 2009, and designed by TBC, features notable Marylanders paired with audacious headlines positioning Maryland as a dynamic state to start, expand or locate a business.  Radio ads, featuring prominent business owners such as Paul Reed Smith of PRS Guitars and Sid Meier of Firaxis, are currently being played on WBAL in the Baltimore metro region and WTOP in the DC Metro region.

One of the MaryLand of Opportunity ads featuring Mei Xu of Chesapeake Bay Candle Company

MaryLand of Opportunity was designed to promote the advantages of doing business in Maryland by showcasing some of Maryland’s industry sectors leaders, including famed guitar manufacturer Paul Reed Smith, top chef Brian Voltaggio and renowned scientist Dr. Claire Fraser-Liggett. The ads also boast the State’s unique assets, including a highly-educated workforce, world-class education system, strategic location, outstanding hub of science and research and excellent quality of life. In 2010, the campaign was featured on radio and in print and internet ads, with the suite of ads appearing at Penn Station and at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

DBED was the recipient of the President’s Trophy Award by the Northeast Economic Development Association in 2009 for the MaryLand of Opportunity campaign.  The agency’s website, www.choosemaryland.org, also received the New Media Institute Award.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Overview of the new Hopkins Science & Technology park and the new Eastside Baltimore community. Image courtesy of Forest City.

 

If you make a trip out to Baltimore’s east side neighborhood, you will notice a dramatic change. What was once a desolate neighborhood, is now a bustling science and technology campus adjacent to Johns Hopkins Hospital. The redevelopment project took over 88 acres of land in East Baltimore to develop a new science and technology park, a new school and a new housing community.

 
The 31-acre science and technology park project began in 2003 and today employs over 400 employees. Run by East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI) and Forest City, the project opened the John G. Rangos, Sr. building in April of 2008 and is 82 percent leased. The $100 million, 278,145 square foot facility houses emerging biotechnology companies like BioMarker Strategies, Champions Oncology, Cureveda, LLC, Siemens Medical, and Spectrum Bioscience to name a few. The building is also home to several independent research institutions like the Leiber Institute for Brain Development and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, among many Johns Hopkins medical institutes.

 

 
“There’s a new day happening — Hopkins is a big institute changing the State – and it is happening in a big way,” said Scott Levitan, Senior Vice President and Development Director of Forest City, the real estate company that has partnered with EBDI. “We adjusted our business model to meet the needs of these emerging companies which is what the market is – and that’s what this project is all about.”

 

Governor OMalley holds the 5-year strategic economic development plan that the Maryland Economic Development Commission presented at a meeting held in the science and technology park at Hopkins.

Governor O’Malley toured the building yesterday after hosting his Economic Development Commission meeting, where members of the commission presented the Governor with their five-year strategic plan for economic development for the State. The Governor also announced some of the new retail tenants, including Inostics and Personal Genome Diagnostics, and also announced two new retail tenants: locally owned Teavolve, and a Cuban restaurant, Cuban Revolution.

Governor OMalley tours Cureveda a woman-owned biotechnology company that is housed in the new science and technology park at Hopkins.

Teavolve owner Mondel Powell has partnered with Ernst Valery Investments Corporation to expand on his successful tea cafe in Harbor East. This location will offer a formal dining cafe and lounge but will also feature a grab and go option for patrons and a gourmet market for the Hopkins location.

 
Expected to open its doors in April 2012, Cuban Revolution is also located in Rhode Island and North Carolina. The Hopkins location is their first Maryland operation.
The redevelopment is also already undergoing further construction.  A 65-million graduate student residential tower located on Wolfe Street began construction in 2009 and includes 325 apartments providing 550 beds of housing. Completion of the project is expected in July of 2012.

 

In July of this year, construction of a $175 million, 130,000 square foot Maryland Public Health laboratory will begin and will be used by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The developers will also start construction of a $50 million hotel and retail project. The hotel will house 150 to 200 rooms with 80,000 square feet of retail and amenities, including a 50,000 square foot sports medicine and wellness center, and a 10,000 to 15,000 square foot grocery market.

 
“This development has helped to attract new and emerging businesses,” Levitan said. “We have a very good mix of minority-owned businesses, local business and national retail. We want to attract new product to the Baltimore market and a lot of companies see the attraction here.”

 

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

The State’s Department of Economic Development saw a number of big wins in this year’s legislative session which closed on Monday.

Governor O'Malley and DBED Secretary Johansson testify before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee in support of the InvestMaryland legislation.

The Department’s InvestMaryland legislation overwhelmingly passed with a 94-43 vote, helping to fuel venture capital investments in Maryland’s startup companies. Through the legislation, the Department’s Enterprise Fund and Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) will receive $70 million in total funding for fiscal years 2012 through 2014.  The funding is provided through a tax credit for insurance companies that make qualified contributions to the program through premium tax credits. The Department can award a maximum of $100 million in tax credits.  If qualified investments made under the program are successful, money will be returned to the State. The bill takes effect July 1, 2011.

The Social Network, an Academy Award winning film, was filmed in Maryland. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

The General Assembly also passed the Maryland Film Production Employment Act of 2011, which will help enhance the State’s reputation as the go-to state for film production.  The program replaces the existing Film Rebate Fund with a refundable film production tax credit and allows up to $7.5 million in tax credits to be issued annually for qualified productions.  Last month, HBO announced that it will be filming the movie, Game Change, in Maryland.  Many movies and TV shows have been filmed in Maryland, including most recently the Academy Award winning The Social Network, and He’s Just Not That Into You.

As Maryland becomes a major hub for the biotechnology sector, the General Assembly has passed the Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit which extends tax credits to biotechnology companies that have been in active business for 15 years. The bill aims to assist biotech companies who are having difficulty finding access to capital in the current economic climate, so that they can continue to bring innovative products to the market.  The bill sunsets in 2013 and will revert back to the original qualifications.  Under the original law, a qualified biotechnology company must have been in active in active business for no longer than 10 years, among other qualifications.

In addition to these bills, the General Assembly passed a bill that will create the Commission on Maryland Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence, which will help the State further its efforts to establish Maryland as the nation’s epicenter of cybersecurity.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

The R&D lab at Lion Brothers - where innovation takes place.

For over 100 years, Lion Brothers has been recognized as the world leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of apparel and uniform identification.  The company serves over 1600 customers worldwide, manufacturing products for companies like Nike, Adidas, Puma, and organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

The company began as a family operation in 1899 in a warehouse in Baltimore and is now housed in Owings Mills.  Although the Lion family is no longer running the company, a new family has taken over the company and has overseen the company’s growth since the 1980s.

Susan Ganz, the CEO of Lion Brothers, took the helm of the operation in 1988 when her mother approached her to oversee the company after her father died.

“I was in my second year of business school and my mother asked me if I wanted to head the company. I was 28 or 29 years old at the time,” she said.

At the time, the company wasn’t doing great.

“It took a long time to create and recreate the business,” she said.  “The first stage for me was about survival and the second stage was about putting in foundations and now this stage, the third and current stage, is about innovation and growth.  This is one of the most fun stages. It’s been a really fun ride.”

 

CEO Susan Ganz shows off the company's MacBeth Lablite machine in the color lab, which helps researchers determine how colors look under different light.

Ganz has given herself the title of Chief Innovation Officer and spends her time studying and discovering new technologies so that Lion can continue to compete globally.

“We are a niche company and in our niche we are recognized as the best in what we produce,” she said.  “It’s been an unbelievable journey at looking at things outside of here and determining how Lion can play in the global market.  Up until about ten years ago, everything we designed and manufactured was based upon fabric and thread.  Although we are still textile based, we do a lot with advanced materials, advanced inks and advanced equipment, like lasers.”

One of the many embroider machines in the factory.

A wall of embroidery fabrics.

The company’s constant innovation in the global marketplace has won them a number of patents and contracts for companies and entities.  As the NBA kicks off its season this year, for example, the players are wearing the lightest uniforms in NBA history – with ID technology that was invented by Lion.  The company also will be developing products for the NFL for the 2012 season.

Although the majority of Lion’s manufacturing takes place at their overseas plant in China, Ganz believes that manufacturing will see an uptick on the domestic side in the upcoming years.

A Lion Brothers factory worker touches up patches after the machine is done.

A machine embroiders multiple patches.

Lion has developed product platforms so that customers can create their own products – products that are manufactured and delivered here in Maryland.

“I am optimistic that domestic manufacturing is going to grow – and that’s an exciting thing to say. My guess is that in the next 10 years, we will see a proliferation of manufacturing coming back to the United States.  And that’s based on the technology that is being infused in manufacturing,” Ganz said.

A factory worker organizes a batch of Lion Brothers' new Personalized Brand Identification Technology for customizing apparel, and uniform identification.

New technologies are also allowing the company to incorporate green and sustainable advancements in their products.  In December of 2009, the company’s products were certified by Oeko-Tex, a European certification body that makes sure that products are earth friendly and contain no harmful substances.

Ganz hopes to continue to build the company and its legacy as a manufacturing company in Maryland. Lion Brothers has approximately 100 employees at the Maryland headquarters and over 800 employees worldwide.

“We like being part of Maryland manufacturing. It’s an interesting community for manufacturing,” she said.  “For us, it’s about business growth and one of the benefits of being a family business is that we are setting it up for the next generation of business so that it continues to prosper and flourish.”