Archives For InvestMaryland

LuminalCybersecurity startup Luminal has moved its headquarters to Maryland and plans to expand, thanks in part to a State investment, Governor Martin O’Malley announced Monday.

The InvestMaryland program, one of Governor O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives administered by the State’s Maryland Venture Fund, has awarded Luminal a $600,000 investment.

Previously based in West Virginia, Luminal recently moved to Frederick, Maryland. The company’s flagship product is Fugue, which brings control and security to cloud computing. The investment is part of a $3.8 million fundraising round Luminal will use to grow its engineering staff, continue product development and expand its customer base.

“The current model for computing is broken, and bad actors are racing far ahead of available defenses,” Josh Stella, CEO of Luminal and previously a principal solutions architect at Amazon Web Services, said in a statement. “We’re taking advantage of the nature of cloud computing to deliver native security, declarative control, and operational simplicity previously unattainable.”

Following its move to Maryland, Luminal became one of the first companies in the State to apply for the Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Tax Credit. It was also recently named one of the top three finalists in the cybersecurity category of the InvestMaryland Challenge, an early-stage business competition offering $100,000 grand prize grants and a host of other awards and business services. The winners will be announced in May.

Governor O’Malley said he welcomes Luminal to Maryland’s growing cybersecurity community.

“Investing in young, high-tech companies is a critical piece of Maryland’s strategy to strengthen and expand our Innovation Economy, grow family-sustaining jobs, and support the development of technologies that keep us safer, healthier and better connected than ever before,” Governor O’Malley said in a statement. “We are proud to make this investment in Luminal and to have them in our State. Maryland is the epicenter of cybersecurity and we look forward to Luminal playing a significant and growing role in that community.”

Find additional information on the InvestMaryland program and other business resources through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

InvestMaryland Challenge Finale

The InvestMaryland Challenge will conclude May 19 at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

For months, competitors in the 2014 InvestMaryland Challenge have fine-tuned their business plans, developed growth goals and presented before judges. Their quest will conclude during the challenge’s finale on May 19 at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development‘s second annual early-stage business competition will award $100,000 grand prizes to businesses in four categories, including information technology hardware and software, life sciences, cybersecurity and general industry. All challenge competitors are also eligible for more than $300,000 in grants, software, lab and incubator space and other prizes.

The finale will feature Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and DBED Secretary Dominick Murray as they celebrate the State’s startup ecosystem. A reception, remarks from public officials and the presentation of awards will be followed by an opportunity to explore the aquarium.

Grand prizes winners will be selected from among 12 remaining finalists, announced in March, including:

IT Hardware and Software

Life Sciences

General Industry

Cybersecurity

Challenge applicants, judges, partners, sponsors and public officials will be admitted free but must register online. The general public may purchase tickets for $25 and exhibit tables are available for $300.

See the Eventbrite invitation for additional details and registration information.

BALTIMORE, MD (March 25, 2014) – The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced today that 12 startup companies have advanced to the final round of the InvestMaryland Challenge, the State’s national business competition. The finalists are competing for $100,000 top prizes in four categories — Information Technology, Life Sciences, General Industry, and, new this year, Cybersecurity. All companies who entered the Challenge are eligible for more than $300,000 in other prizes, including grants, software and lab and incubator space. The winners will be announced in May.

“Congratulations to the finalists and all the companies that advanced in the InvestMaryland Challenge. To stand out from the field of 260 applicants is an achievement in itself and a testament to the strength of the companies competing for the top prizes,” said Dominick Murray, DBED Secretary. “For two years in a row, Maryland has been named the #1 state in the country for innovation and entrepreneurship and companies like those competing in this Challenge are the reason why. They are the future leaders of Maryland’s Innovation Economy and we are proud to support them as they grow and create jobs.”

Now in its second year, the InvestMaryland Challenge drew 260 applicants, including 29 companies from 11 other states and Washington D.C. The field was narrowed over two rounds of judging by more than 80 investors, successful entrepreneurs, business executives and other members of the Maryland startup community. In early March, panels of judges interviewed 41 semifinalists — 14 in IT, 10 in Life Sciences, 11 in General Industry and six in Cybersecurity — and selected the 12 finalists from that pool. IT, Life Sciences and Cybersecurity were open to only Maryland companies. The General category was open to out-of-state companies as well as Maryland companies.

IT Finalists: Continue Reading…

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), through the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), has invested $75,000 in CoFoundersLab, a Rockville startup that provides an online matchmaking service for entrepreneurs. The MVF investment was made with funds raised byInvestMarylandone of Governor Martin O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives. A public-private partnership between the State and venture capital firms,InvestMaryland raised $84 million to reinvigorate the State-run MVF and support the growth of young Maryland companies in biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce and other high-growth industries.

“CoFoundersLab is an innovative, exciting young company and a valuable resource for their fellow entrepreneurs. Having a strong team in place is often the most important ingredient in a startup’s success,” said Dominick Murray, DBED Secretary. “Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses are the engine that drives Maryland’s economy and keeps our State competitive. We are proud to make this investment in CoFoundersLab and look forward to their success, and the success of the companies they touch.”

“We’re delighted to gain the support of the Maryland Venture Fund to help CoFoundersLab achieve its ambitious plans for growth. InvestMaryland has proven to be one of the most progressive state programs to help foster startups activity, the engine for job creation,” said Shahab Kaviani, Cofounder and CEO of CoFoundersLab. “With this investment we’ll continue to improve our matching algorithm and launch events in more cities so the best founding teams can unite to launch new business and create jobs for Maryland and beyond.”

CoFoundersLab is the world’s largest online community of entrepreneurs and helps them discover and connect with more than 25,000 cofounders, advisers, and interns to launch and grow new businesses. Members make connections through an online matching site at CoFoundersLab.com and through in-person matchup events hosted in more than 35 cities across the globe. Its success stories include ReelGenie, an online service based in Silver Spring that creates videos from a customer’s videos and photos. ReelGenie received a $150,000 investment from the MVF in July 2013. CoFoundersLab has also provided Premium Memberships to all 41 companies that advanced to the second round of the InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s national business competition.

Created by Governor O’Malley and passed by the General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. In March 2012, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies. Two-thirds of the funding – $56 million – is being managed by carefully screened private venture firms that will invest the funds and, if successful, return 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. The remaining third of the InvestMaryland capital is largely allocated to direct investments by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.

The Maryland Venture Fund is a regionally recognized leader in seed and early-stage investing and a national model for state-supported investment programs. With nearly two decades of experience and numerous successful investments, MVF invests in highly innovative technology companies across the full range of industry sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences companies in the areas of healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics.

InvestMaryland Challenge

InvestMaryland Challenge draws more than $600,000 in prizes

As the deadline draws near for applications for the second annual InvestMaryland Challenge, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced that the national business competition has already secured more than $600,000 in awards for its winners. Companies will compete in four categories to win top prizes of $100,000 each as well as smaller prizes that include grants, incubator space, and business and legal services.  For an application, or more information, click here.

Applicants receive benefits of Cofounders PRO membership

Did you know your founding team is one of the most important factors investors consider when evaluating new ventures? Tap into the largest community of entrepreneurs online who are looking to launch and join new companies at CoFoundersLab.com. As extra incentive to apply allInvestMaryland Challenge will receive a 30% discount on Cofounders PRO.

Meet the judges behind the InvestMaryland Challenge

This year’s judges lineup includes industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields from VC & investment firms, incubators, academia, federal labs and serial entrepreneurs. For a listing of competition judges click here.

December 6th application deadline

Time is running out to submit your application for the InvestMaryland Challenge. Applications include a business profile, quad chart, executive summary and full business plan. Ready, set, APPLY! InvestMarylandChallenge.org

i-Lighting

Scott Holland, owner of i-Lighting, displays a machine that allows him to complete circuit boards in-house. The company formerly imported from China.

It wasn’t just another business competition for Scott Holland, it was the realization of a life-long dream.

Holland’s startup i-Lighting, a novel easy-to-install indoor and outdoor LED lighting system, was awarded $100,000 and other prizes in April 2013 during the inaugural InvestMaryland Challenge, a prestigious business competition by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Following weeks of rigorous judging and mentoring, his company beat out dozens of others, ranging from high-tech manufacturers to smart phone app developers, in the general category.

The i-Lighting team celebrated victory at a ceremony with Governor Martin O’Malley, along with RedOwl Analytics, winner of the information technology category, and Graybug, winner of the life sciences category.

For Holland, it was only the beginning of a new life for the company he had been nurturing since 2005. Over the course of the following six months, by fall 2013, the company experienced rapid, profitable growth.

i-Lighting Growth Since InvestMaryland Challenge Victory

Spring 2013 Fall 2013
Number of employees 3 full-time and 2 part-time 6 full-time and 3 part-time
Location and work space Home-based 1,600-square-foot space with living room office Newly constructed 5,000-square-foot office and warehouse space
Annual estimated calculated and projected revenue $500,000 in 2012 $1,000,000 in 2013$3,000,000 in 2014
Commercial product lines 3 6
Number of manufacturing machines 2 4
Work benches 2 10
Parts production outsourced to China Yes No
i-Lighting

i-Lighting offers a novel indoor and outdoor LED lighting system.

Pre-competition, a major challenge for Holland was convincing a bank to help finance his business. He was deeply passionate about his product, but knew he needed a jump-start.

“As a small business, it’s virtually impossible to just borrow from a traditional bank. They don’t want to take the chance,” he said. “But the cash injection from the InvestMaryland Challenge gave us the funds we needed to basically take us over the hump. That was a major hurdle we overcame after winning.”

But i-Lighting’s win offered far more than the cash prize.

“The exposure has been phenomenal. We weren’t known before. Now everyone knows about us. We gained legitimacy. Sometimes home-based businesses are looked down on. Having our own facility now, we’re able to entertain clients,” Holland said.

But one of the greatest benefits of participating was how it forced the young company to streamline its goals.

“Our business plan was mostly in our heads. It was on paper but it wasn’t highly refined. In order to qualify and compete, we had to create an actual realistic business plan. It forced us to focus and develop that plan. Now we’re implementing what we developed—and that’s huge,” he said.

Holland is especially proud of the fact that his company is no longer dependent on Chinese manufacturing. While it represented a substantial up-front cost to the company, Holland purchased a new machine that allows circuit board production for the lighting system to be completed in-house.  He described the independence and reliability of using his own machinery as liberating.

“Not everything made in China is poorly manufactured, but it’s true that you get what you pay for … You don’t have control over quality, you can’t see your product being made, so you don’t know the environment it’s being made in,” Holland said. “The initial basic product might be cheaper, but by the time you pay expedited airfreight, it’s extremely expensive, and you also have to pay duties and taxes for importing it. At the end of the day, we have control and I can deliver a better quality product to the market, almost always cheaper, and I can place ‘Made in the USA’ on it.’ ”

Holland urges other startups, whether they’re already located in Maryland or interested in moving to the state, to submit their applications for the second-annual 2014 InvestMaryland Challenge.

“Even if you don’t win, it gets your name out there in front of professionals,” he said.

InvestMaryland Challenge applicants receive free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, and exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors. Categories have increased from three to four to include life sciences, information technology, cybersecurity and general industry. Each category winner is eligible for a $100,000 grand prize. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes, bringing the total available competition prizes to $600,000.

Applications must be submitted by Dec. 6.

Additional details and a video message from the governor are available on the 2014 InvestMaryland Challenge website.

November 14, 2013 (Baltimore, MD) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that EnerTech Capital Partners and Foundation Medical Partners (FMP) have been selected to receive funds through the State’s $84 million InvestMaryland program. The venture capital firms will invest $10 and $7 million each in young, innovative Maryland companies. As part of the agreement, the firms will return to the State’s general fund 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the proceeds from successful investments. Created by Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is a historic initiative to fuel Maryland’s Innovation Economy, support entrepreneurs and stimulate job creation.

“Maryland is committed to investing in the entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses that will soon become the leaders of our growing Innovation Economy and we are excited to have EnerTech and FMP join us in that effort,” Governor O’Malley said. “InvestMaryland leverages the capital and expertise of the private sector to support young Maryland businesses as they grow and create family-sustaining jobs for the people of our State.”

“Venture capital and knowledgeable investors can mean the difference between success and failure for young companies, even those built around promising ideas and innovative technologies,” Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick E. Murray said. “InvestMaryland is just one more advantage Maryland has in the life sciences, social media, cybersecurity, big data, green energy and other high-tech fields. We look forward to working with EnerTech and FMP as they make their investments.”

“EnerTech has been investing in Maryland since shortly after our founding in 1996. We are delighted to be selected by the InvestMaryland team and welcome their participation in our final close of EnerTech Capital Partners IV,” said Tucker Twitmyer, Managing Director of EnerTech. “The State has an impressive track record in our sector and we look forward to helping Maryland’s workforce create the next generation of real energy solutions — for Maryland and for the world.”

EnerTech invests in early to growth-stage companies that offer products or services that make energy production and consumption more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. The firm has managed about $500 million since its founding in 1996. Its current fund, in which InvestMaryland is a participant, is approximately $120 million. EnerTech’s portfolio ranges from Tangent Energy Solutions, a company that makes industrial sites more energy efficient, to n-Dimension Solutions, a cybersecurity firm focused on critical infrastructure.

FMP invests in the healthcare technology sector, focusing on transformational technologies and services that enable value-based healthcare and leverage wireless, data and analytics technologies. Its portfolio includes a diverse set of companies specializing in healthcare informatics, medical device development and innovative diagnostic technologies. FMP is still in its fundraising phase and could not comment on its new fund.

InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment in history by the State. Last year, $84 million was raised for the program through an online auction of tax credits. Of that funding, two-thirds will be managed by private venture firms like EnerTech and FMP. So far, $48 million has been committed to seven firms. The remaining third is being invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).

The MVF was seeded with $25 million and over its 17-year existence invested in hundreds of start-up and early stage technology and life sciences companies, generating a $67 million return, 2000 jobs and more than $1 billion in private investment. Returns from MVF investments are reinvested in the program.

The second annual InvestMaryland Challenge is in full swing. If your business is in need of a jump start, check out this site for more information about the national business competition. The Challenge offers applicants free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors and the chance to compete for more than $600,000 in prizes. Winners of the Life Sciences, IT, Cybersecurity and General Industry categories will each win $100,000 awards. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Judges include a distinguished lineup of industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Meet a selection of judges below.

Meet The Judges:

IT-robDoub

ROBB DOUB

Robb Doub joined New Markets Venture Partners in 2003. Robb is the lead administrative partner and serves as a board director for eCoast Sales Solutions and Appfluent Technology, and is lead partner or board observer for K2 Global, Kroll Bond Ratings, Navtrak, Three Stage Media, CSA Medical and TidalTV. He also serves on the board of Egeen International and the Conflicts Advisory Board of the off-shore hedge funds.

IT-daphneDufresneDAPHNE DUFRESNE

Daphne Dufresne joined RLJ Equity Partners from Parish Capital Advisors, where she was a Venture Partner managing the direct investment and co-investment program. Formerly, Ms. Dufresne was a Principal at Weston Presidio Capital with $3.4 billion of assets under management. She also served as Associate Director in the Bank of Scotland’s Structured Finance Group. Ms. Dufresne received her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

LS_Christy_W_WyskielCHRISTY WILLIAMS WYSKIEL

Christy Williams Wyskiel is an entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience focused on the life sciences and healthcare industries. Previously, Christy was Managing Director at Maverick Capital, an equity hedge fund with $12 billion under management. She co-founded GrayBug, an ophthalmic drug-delivery company. In 2012, Christy joined the Johns Hopkins Alliance, a board charged with evaluating the commercial viability of research projects at JHU.

CS_Frederick_FerrerFREDERICK J. FERRER

Frederick J. Ferrer has over three decades of experience in the National Security, Intelligence Community (IC), Homeland Defense and Cyber. Mr. Ferrer holds a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and serves in a number of leadership capacities, including the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence; National STEM Consortium Advisory Committee; and Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.

GEN_Deb_TillettDEBORAH TILLETT

As the Executive Director and President of the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, Ms. Tillett is responsible for management of budgetary, administrative, programmatic functions and strategic planning. Prior to joining ETC, Ms. Tillett served as president and co-founder of Immersive 3D, LLC, a technology start-up providing web-based 3D computer gaming solutions for K-20 education and offering contract-based technology services.

See the full list of judges and submit your application on InvestMarylandChallenge.org.

BALTIMORE, MD (September 5, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today via video kicked off the 2nd annual InvestMaryland Challenge, a national business competition that supports Maryland startups and strengthens a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship that has been ranked #1 in the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for two years in a row. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), through the Maryland Venture Fund and the BioMaryland Center, will award $400,000 in top prizes spread across four categories — Life Sciences, IT, General Industry and a new Cybersecurity category — as well as secondary prizes and awards from partners and sponsors. DBED is continuing its partnership with Inc. magazine to promote the Challenge to a national audience of entrepreneurs and small business owners. The application period opens immediately and will close December 6 and applications are available here.

“The future of Maryland’s economy is the entrepreneurs, innovators, startup founders and small business owners all across our State. The InvestMaryland Challenge is a central piece of our strategy to provide the critical resources to help these men and women succeed,” said Governor O’Malley. “The winners in the New Economy will be those states and countries that make the smart investments in the people, technologies and companies that will lead their economies for decades to come. The InvestMaryland Challenge is one way we are doing just that, while showing entrepreneurs everywhere that Maryland is the best place to start and grow their businesses.”

“We are excited to bring back the InvestMaryland Challenge for a second year, build on the success of the first competition and continue our efforts to reach and support Maryland’s diverse and growing community of innovators,” said DBED Secretary Dominick E. Murray. “The Challenge is an opportunity for us to connect in a unique and impactful way to Maryland companies on the cutting edge of life sciences, social media, cybersecurity, big data, green energy and the other high-tech fields at the forefront of Maryland’s Innovation Economy. We look forward to meeting an exciting new crop of entrepreneurs and helping them strengthen and grow their businesses.”

“We at Inc. have been watching innovation and fast-growing private companies blossom in Maryland for more than 30 years,” said Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “Like our partners in the InvestMaryland Challenge, we like nothing more in life than to help our favorite people—entrepreneurs—succeed.”

The benefits of the Challenge stretch far beyond the cash prizes and other awards that companies will receive. Contestants will have their companies evaluated by teams of expert judges comprised of successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, high-tech and scientific researchers, top-level executives and others who work with startups. Connections forged with judges and fellow contestants can pave the way for partnerships, new customer relationships and further investment.

For example, SocialToaster, a Baltimore company that helps organizations amplify their social media messages by deputizing their most ardent followers, landed a $200,000 venture capital investment from DBED’s Maryland Venture Fund after being named one of the three finalists in the IT category in the first InvestMaryland Challenge. The company has also partnered with DBED to help promote the second Challenge. North East-based i-Lighting, a producer of home lighting systems, has moved into a larger facility, expanded its manufacturing operation and added staff since it won the General category in the first InvestMaryland Challenge in April. The company has also signed on to provide a $5,000 prize and help judge the second Challenge.

“Winning the InvestMaryland Challenge has been a huge advantage to i-Lighting. The influx of cash that we needed to expand our business and grow it in so many categories has been huge,” said Scott Holland, i-Lighting’s founder, president and CEO. “The funding was the end result, but it would be very difficult to put a value on the exposure we have received from outside sources after winning the InvestMaryland Challenge. It was almost brand recognition all by itself.”

The inaugural Challenge awarded more than $425,000 in cash prizes and services and drew 259 contestants from 10 states and Washington D.C., with companies applying from as far away as California, Georgia and Massachusetts. As required last year, out-of-state companies are eligible to apply in the General Category but would have to establish an office in Maryland and spend a majority of the funding here if they claim the top prize. The Life Sciences, IT and Cybersecurity categories are open only to Maryland companies. Every category is limited to companies with fewer than 25 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. After businesses turn in their entries, including a business plan, by Dec. 6, they will be evaluated in January by panels of judges. The top 10 companies in each category will move on to face-to-face interviews with judging panels in March. Winners of each category and the special awards and prizes will be announced at the InvestMaryland Challenge Finale in April.

 

BALTIMORE, MD (July 29, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that two Maryland tech companies received investments totaling $350,000 through the State’s InvestMaryland program, which was created by Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly to make venture capital investments in promising Maryland startups in high-tech, high-growth fields. The State invested $200,000 in SocialToaster, a Baltimore firm specializing in social media and customer engagement, has been approved for a $200,000 investment and $150,000 in ReelGenie, a new online service based in Silver Spring that creates high-quality videos from a customer’s photos and digital media.

“Supporting our entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses is a top priority for Maryland as we grow our Innovation Economy. Our high-tech entrepreneurs place Maryland at the forefront of innovation and discovery,” said Governor O’Malley. “We’re pleased to make these investments in ReelGenie and SocialToaster, as well as the many others that have benefited from the InvestMaryland program, and we look forward to their future growth and success in our State.”

Continue Reading…

Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has launched a new advertising campaign encouraging Marylanders to support local businesses. The campaign, which kicked off this week and will run through summer, features a different company each month and highlights consumer-focused small businesses. Part of DBED’s long-running MaryLand of Opportunity campaign, the 30-second spots will run on a mix of broadcast, radio, print and digital, including WJZ-TV, CBS Radio and the Baltimore Sun, all of which are matching the State’s ad buy. DBED worked with Baltimore-based Media Works to secure the placements.

“Small businesses are the engine that drives Maryland’s economy, helping to create the kinds of jobs and opportunities that are so necessary to our continued progress,” said Governor O’Malley. “This ad campaign highlights some of our amazing small businesses and shares their stories of success so that we can continue to inspire budding entrepreneurs and promote our State as a great place to grow a business.”

The first ad featuring B’More Organic, a Baltimore-based yogurt smoothie company, began airing this week on WJZ-TV. To view the ad, click here. Additional companies featured in the coming weeks include Clean Currents in Baltimore, Apples and Oranges in East Baltimore and Earth Treks, which has locations in Columbia, Rockville and Timonium. The campaign’s total cost to DBED is $130,000, but with the media outlets matching the ad buy, the total value of the campaign is more than $350,000.  To learn more about the upcoming featured businesses, click here.

“B’more Organic is very excited to be part of the Maryland small business campaign,” said B’More Organic owner Andrew Buerger. “We cannot tell you how valuable this will be — to amplify our message that we’re a local company that cares about our community. This campaign will both educate Maryland consumers about our product and help us grow our family business.”

Supplementing the campaign will be a special focus on small businesses throughout the summer on DBED’s MDBizNews channel and social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter. In addition, DBED will kick off a social media promotion inviting followers to submit their favorite small business by sending in a photo to Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #mysmallbusiness. Each month, there will be a drawing from submissions and the winning business will be treated to an appreciation lunch. For more details on how to enter, click here.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing workforce training and financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State’s many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. Because they are major economic generators, the Department also supports the Arts, film production, sports and other special events. For more information, visit www.ChooseMaryland.org.

Maryland/Washington D.C. District Export Council, Inc.

Maryland/Washington D.C. District Export Council

Over $11.8 billion in merchandise traveled out of Maryland and into markets around the world in 2012.

While Maryland already has a flourishing export market, the Maryland/DC District Export Council is working to build that number even higher. The DEC plans to hold its first-ever Celebration of International Trade in Linthicum Heights on May 21, with a special focus on training businesses in exporting goods and services.

Registration for the Celebration of International Trade has reached 70 percent and will remain open online until the day of the event. Admission, including breakfast and lunch, is free for government employees and $99 for others.

The world market is a “surprisingly small place,” according to Carl Livesay, chairman of the DEC.

“Businesses perceive that there are overwhelming barriers to exporting goods and services, and that’s just not the case. It is confusing and it can be cumbersome, but if you align yourself with businesses and people who have traveled that path before, they will help light the way,” he said.

The region benefits from transportation systems that easily support trade, including the top-ranking Port of Baltimore and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Livesay also described the area as a “hotbed and innovation and technology.”

“There’s no other area in the country that is better suited, better qualified or has access to stronger resources than we do here in Maryland,” he said.

Ultimately, as more companies in Maryland and Washington, D.C. trade internationally, the more the overall economy will grow and the national trade balance will improve. He said, ”We do not seek to help companies import foreign goods or services into the United States. To put it bluntly, this is about creating permanent, sustainable jobs right here in Maryland.”

The event’s main draw is an extensive list of prominent speakers, including Robert Walker, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development; Laszlo Horvath, CEO or Active Media; and Todd Marks, CEO of Mindgrub Technologies.

Dozens of other industry leaders and exhibitors will present training sessions, ranging from mitigating risk in international trade to strategic tax consideration.