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Catch up on the latest Maryland business news:


Baltimore’s Premier Rides has been selected by Halul Real Estate Development to design and build Dragonfire, the signature attraction for the new Adventure Island in the Doha Oasis Mall.  The highly-themed custom high-thrill indoor/outdoor dark ride launch roller coaster will be located in Doha, Qatar.

“Qatar is one of the most exciting places to be in the world right now,” said Jim Seay, President of Premier Rides. ”The development is unprecedented and combined with the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, there is a tremendous amount of energy in the country.  We are extremely honored to be part of what is happening there.  The magnitude of the Doha Oasis Mall project is quite stunning.  One has to be there to see and appreciate the amazing scale.”

International Theme Park Services Inc. (ITPS), based in Ohio, is the lead consultant on the $300 million Adventure Island where the signature dark ride launch coaster will be installed.  ITPS has consulted on and constructed more than 500 amusement parks in about 50 countries.

Dragonfire will be one of the largest and most sophisticated attractions ever built by Premier Rides, and will incorporate Premier’s award-winning technologies such as magnetic launches, high speed switches, and multi-directional movement of the vehicles.  Additionally the attraction features a backwards launch unlike any other where riders are shot up an extremely high vertical twisting spike that rises dramatically above the mall and is fully encapsulated to allow guests to take in the view and to appreciate just how high above the building they are while remaining in a climate-controlled environment.  

Seay commented, “Halul has brought together the theme park industry’s “best of the best” to design and manage the Mall’s entertainment element.  Premier’s engineers have worked with the ITPS design team for almost a year to create together a stunning attraction that complements the scale of the Mall and the desire for a world class attraction experience.”

“This is one of the largest, most complex, complicated projects we’ve ever worked on,” Dennis Speigel, President of ITPS shared. “It will be a seven-acre indoor theme park along the lines of a Mall of America. It’s all state-of-the-art equipment, the latest and greatest.”

“The entertainment component of the complex will be first class,” stated Hasan Abu Rub, Project Director for Halul Real Estate Investment Company.  “We wanted a signature ride that would have a global impact and we are pleased to partner with Premier Rides on Dragonfire.  Premier’s innovation and quality is evident in their work for other clients such as Universal Studios and together we will create for our valued visitors a one-of-a-kind world-class attraction.”

Seay added, “We are honored to be a part of Halul’s formula for success by supplying this unique attraction that combines an exciting dark ride experience with a high-thrill coaster that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Dragonfire will incorporate the latest in magnetic launch technology combined with a cutting-edge track design, complete with a backward launch up a “spike” outside the building, giving riders a birds-eye view of the area before dropping back down the spike.  This signature attraction will be a phenomenal thrill ride.”

Located in Qatar, the Doha Oasis Mall project will consist of upscale retail shops, fine dining experiences and an indoor amusement park that will make the facility a landmark in the region.  The project is slated to open in 2017.

Maryland’s 20 Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Districts collectively supported more than 5,000 new jobs that paid $149 million in wages in Fiscal Year 2013, a new study shows. New jobs combined with A&E District festivals and events supported more than $458 million in state GDP and $36 million in state and local tax revenue.

The study, commissioned by the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) and conducted by Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI), underscores the positive impact of cultural districts on the local economy.

“Maryland is a state with strong communities, a wealth of creative assets and a thriving tourism industry” said Dominick Murray, Secretary, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “We capitalize on those distinctive qualities through A&E Districts, which advance our local economies and support cultural experiences that residents and visitors can enjoy.”

Established in 2001 as one of the first programs of its kind, the MSAC’s nationally pioneering A&E District Program has grown to include 22 districts in rural, suburban and urban neighbors across 15 Maryland counties. A&E Districts attract artists, arts organizations and businesses through various tax benefits, including property tax credits for developers, abatement of admissions and amusement tax for venues, and income tax benefits for artists that create and sell in a district.

Legislation that would extend the income tax benefits for artists is under consideration in the current session of the Maryland General Assembly. The bill (SB 1054/HB 1516 Economic Development – Arts and Entertainment Districts – Qualifying Residing Artists) would exempt qualifying artists from paying taxes on art sales not only within the A&E District in which the art is created, but within any of Maryland’s 22 A&E Districts.

“A&E Districts will continue to create significant new business opportunities for Maryland artists, and by doing so, incentivize further investment in the revitalization of the A&E Districts,” said Hannah Byron, Assistant Secretary for Tourism, Film and the Arts at the Department of Business and Economic Development.

In February, the Maryland A&E District Program was awarded the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission’s Sustainable Communities Award for “exemplary work that represents or inspires collaboration, innovation, conservation, community impact and quality of life.”

ShimadzuMaryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray today joined Congressman John Sarbanes, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the Embassy of Japan’s Economic Minister and executives from Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (SSI) to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new Shimadzu Solution Center. The company, which develops and manufactures analytical and monitoring equipment for scientific and medical laboratories, opened the state-of-the-art center in Columbia to showcase more than 30 scientific instruments and serve as a resource for well established companies as well as startups in a number of industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to food safety and toxicology.  




 The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development this week is sponsoring Dancing with Startups, a partnering event series that pairs multinational corporations with innovative start-up companies in the areas of technology, media services, big data, and cybersecurity, among other industries.

The event is being hosted by Exelon Corp. and The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and will take place in the CyberHive at bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park on March 11th. Invited companies will make their pitches, then discuss with Exelon’s management team.

For more information, please contact Allie Gold, bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator Manager at

Catch up on the latest Maryland business news:

Why climb the corporate ladder when you can take the stairs?

Duvinage, a renowned Hagerstown-based producer of circular and spiral stairs, recently acquired Sharon Stairs of Akron, Ohio. The deal caught the attention of the Maryland chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, which awarded Duvinage its Deal of the Year Award in the Manufacturing & Distribution category, Washington County government announced.

The acquisition allows the company to expand its product line to include egress and straight stairs. The deal was financed in part and supported by the City of Hagerstown, Washington County government and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Through the Hagerstown Revolving Loan Fund, the city and state funded a low interest $100,000 loan to the company.

Duvinage announced that it plans to retain its existing 19 positions and add 28 employees over the next two years.

Find more information on the company website.

Maryland added 4,600 new jobs in May, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures released Friday morning by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

So far this year, Maryland has added jobs in four out of five months. Most of May’s new jobs, some 2,800, were added in the private sector. Since May 2012, the private sector has expanded by 31,100 jobs. Overall, Maryland has added 35,600 jobs during that time, an increase of 1.6 percent.

“As a state, we have now recovered over 95 percent of the jobs lost during the Bush recession – another step toward our goal to recover every job we’ve lost during the downturn by the end of 2014,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “In Maryland, we continue to target our skills and investment pipeline to bolster the life sciences, biotech, cyber security, space and aerospace, global trade, and advanced manufacturing because we know that to move forward in our jobs recovery, we must make the better choices to grow our Innovation Economy. Though this jobs report is promising, there are still too many moms and dads out of work. That’s why together, we must continue to give our highly-skilled and educated workforce the tools they need to compete and expand the ranks of our diverse and upwardly-mobile middle class.”

The professional and business services sector led the way in May with 4,000 new jobs, while trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities added 2,200. Information, a small sector, added 400 jobs. Leisure and hospitality also added 400.

Government employment increased by 1,800, with 1,200 state and 700 federal jobs added. Local government employment dipped  100.

The unemployment rate ticked higher in May, to 6.7 percent, as more Marylanders entered the labor force.

Labor officials also revised last month’s employment report, reporting a decline of 4,900 jobs in April, down from the 6,200 job decline that was first reported.

Maryland/DC Celebration of International Trade 2013

Spurred on by an enthusiastic showing at the inaugural event on Tuesday, officials already are planning the Maryland/DC Celebration of International Trade 2014.

“There is a wealth of content. The panelists and speakers are getting the benefit they have hoped for and so are the attendees. It seems to be a real hit,” said Carl Livesay, chairman of the Maryland/DC District Export Council, which orchestrated the day-long informational series on exporting, held in Linthicum Heights.

As only 3 percent of Maryland companies participate in exporting their goods and services, the conference sought to educate businesses on resources to ease market entry.

“The simple truth is most companies don’t know what they don’t know, so when they meet a barrier they don’t know how to handle, they put it away in their ‘too hard’ box. What we’re trying to do is help people wittel away at their ‘too hard’ box,”  Livesay said. “We’re trying to eliminate or at least reduce the barriers of entry for international trade, and demystify it, and also help companies understand how to best leverage the resources available from state and federal government and trade associations.”

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Preakness Maryland

Preakness, a horse racing Maryland tradition, will return this weekend.

The 138th Preakness will return to Pimlico this weekend, and along with the crowds, concerts and large flowered hats, the annual races are expected to generate millions of dollars for Maryland.

Weather permitting (sunny skies are expected Friday, but showers are a possibility Saturday), participation in the 2013 Preakness could significantly outshine last year’s event. According to Preakness officials, up to 40,000 people, representing a 20 percent increase, are expected to attend Black-Eyed Susan Day on Friday. The 13-race program will be paired with Black-Eyed Susan Day’s first-ever infield concert, featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, Rodney Atkins and Rachel Farley. An attendance boost is also expected on Preakness Day on Saturday, with advance tickets already sold out, Preakness officials said.

Attendance at Pimlico has followed an upward trajectory in recent years. Since 2009, attendance during the month of May has risen from 77,850 to a 25-year high of 121,309 in 2012, according to data and tables compiled by the Maryland Department of Economic Development. Along with attendance, between 2011 and 2012, betting on the Preakness stakes nationwide rose 5.6 percent and betting at Pimlico rose 8.3 percent.

The department emphasized the larger economic impact of the races, including boosts to the horse industry, tourist attractions and positive exposure for the state.

IKEA is making good use of the roof on its 1.7 million-square-foot distribution center in Perryville, Maryland.

The Swedish home goods chain recently installed and activated Maryland’s largest rooftop solar power system, with enough generating capabilities to support 359 homes per year, the Washington Business Journal reported.

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GrayBug won the $100,000 grand prize in the life sciences category of the InvestMaryland Challenge.

Entrepreneurs often follow a rough road to success, but on Monday evening, state officials and business sponsors proved there is help along the way.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge culminated with the announcement of the three $100,000 grand prize-winning companies and presentations of in-kind awards worth a combined value of over $125,000. Participating companies represented some of the most innovative early-stage operations from Maryland and beyond.

Find a full list of winners here.

Governor Martin O’Malley, who welcomed grand prize winners to the stage inside the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Brown Center, said he identified with the start-up spirit of contestants.

“I’m an entrepreneur trapped in a public servant’s body. I believe in doing the things that work. I don’t have time for ideology. I don’t like bureaucracy. I’m not into process and I’m not into hierarchy. I’m into doing things that work, less of the things that don’t and putting together common platforms that allow people to come together and collaborate and innovate,” O’Malley said.

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