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Flush Tax to Pay for Clean Water Projects

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved $43 million in grants to local jurisdictions for clean water and Chesapeake Bay projects in the last two months.

Administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the projects are part of an ongoing effort to improve water quality for Marylanders and reduce nutrients in the Bay.

“We’ve updated 67 of the largest waste water treatment plants” in the state so far, says Jay Apperson, the environment department's deputy director in the office of communications.
State funding comes from the Bay Restoration Fund, which is paid for by the “flush tax.” The 2012 General Assembly passed legislation that doubled the tax to $30 per year for septic users and $2.50 per month for public water users.
Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants, aka stimulus money, were also available. The state is allocated a certain amount of stimulus funding, and environmental department picked the recipients.
Grants went to:
Allegheny County: more than $1 million to City of Cumberland for sewer overflow storage facility.
Anne Arundel County: $5.4 million for Broadwater Water Reclamation Facility; $90,455 for Peach Orchard Stormwater Management; and $345,000 Rhode River/Cheston Point Living Shorelines.
Baltimore City: $2.5 million for the Montebello Reservoir Cover Project.
Harford County: over $33 million for Sod Run Wastewater Treatment Plant; and $2.6 million for Joppatowne Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“The water quality projects – for drinking water and waste water – are all designed to improve the quality of the waterways, including the Bay,” says Apperson, “and to ensure that Marylanders have as clean drinking water as possible.”
Source: Jay Apperson, Maryland Department of the Environment
Writer: Barbara Pash

IT Firm Buys $1.6M Data Storage Center

A Beltsville IT storage firm has snatched up a 300,000-square-foot building in Glen Burnie so it can compete with companies in Northern Virginia, where 95 percent of the regional industry is located.

The AiNET CyberNAP facility will be the largest stand-alone data center in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to Darrell Tanno, AiNET's vice president of business development.

AiNET's paid $1.6 million for the Anne Arundel County building. The 19-year-old company has two other facilities in Maryland. 

Founded by CEO Deepak Jain, a Howard County native, AiNET operates a secure, cloud storage service based on proprietary technology.  Jain stated that CyberNAP already has commitments from several customers. The facility is located near Fort Meade and is geared to offer specialized security features.  

Tanno expects that in the next five to seven years, when the Glen Burnie facility is operating at full capacity, it will have an “economic impact of upwards of $1 billion annually, much of it staying in Maryland.” 
The Glen Burnie facility will house more than 10,000 equipment cabinets and support up to 1 million servers. The facility itself will employ about 20 people but Tanno says that the real job impact will be AiNET’s clients who, because of AiNET's increased capacity, can handle more contracts. New jobs would be primarily for skilled IT workers but support personnel would be needed as well, he says.
AiNET opened its first facility in 2003, a 50,000-square foot data center in Beltsville. The 20,000-square foot Laurel data center followed in 2008.
AiNET provides IT services to clients in the public and commercial/private sectors. Tanno says the current split is 60 percent public sector, 40 percent commercial/private sector. Public sector clients include universities and government. Virtually all of the government clients are through system integrators, he says.
Source: Darrell Tanno, AiNET
Writer: Barbara Pash

Number of Female Board Members Rose Last Year

The number of women serving on corporate boards in Maryland-headquartered companies is on the rise.

The number of female board directors increased a full percentage point in 2011 from the previous year, according to a study by nonprofit membership organization Network 2000. The Baltimore organization promotes the advancement of women in exective positions.
Women accounted for 10.2 percent of corporate board members in 84 companies last year. To qualify, a company must be headquartered in Maryland and be publicly traded on one of the three major exchanges.
The 2011 figure was the highest since Network 2000 began its annual census in 2005. It is the only such tally in the state.
Network 2000 is a private, membership-based organization whose mission is to encourage the advancement of women in professional and executive positions.
The census is not broken down by industries. But Ellen Fish, president of Network 2000 and executive vice president of CFG Community Bank, says that in prior censuses, professional science-oriented companies tended not to have many female members. “That had a negative effect” on the figures, she says.
The census found that of Maryland’s five Fortune 500 companies, all had at least one female board member, for a figure of 18.4 percent. In a national census of 1,400 Fortune 500 companies, 16.7 percent had female board directors.
The report also found that 42 percent of the qualifying companies had no women on their boards. The number of women of color holding board seats remained the same from the previous census, at less that two percent.
“The census helps us accomplish our mission,” says Fish.  “It allows us to raise the awareness issue in talks and programs.”
Source: Ellen Fish, Network 2000
Writer: Barbara Pash

Loyola Teams With California VC Firm to Fund Startups

Loyola University Maryland is partnering with a California venture capital firm to fund new startups and help grow existing businesses in the Govans area of York Road. Loyola and Wasabi Ventures formed a business accelerator with an office in Govans, a neighborhood in Baltimore City.

Karyl Leggio, dean of Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, says the accelerator will help revitalize the nearby York Road business corridor.

Leggio says the university bought and renovated a two-story building in Govans that is serving as the local office of Wasabi Ventures and out of which the accelerator is operating. Loyola University faculty are offering advice on business plans and marketing. About 20 Loyola students per semester serve as interns at the accelerator.

Wasabi Ventures was co-founded by T.K. Kuegler, general partner and a Loyola graduate. Wasabi is providing professional staff to manage the accelerator. Through Wasabi Ventures and its partnering organizations, funding is available for startups companies, although funding amounts have not yet been established.

Leggio said funding would be based on the level of need. She said, for example, that Loyola has funded student ideas up to $25,000 in cash and services. However, startups and businesses that use the business accelerator may need more funding than that.

Leggio said that the accelerator is interested in technology concepts and startup companies that want advice and assistance to reach the development stage, as well as existing companies in the area that want to grow.

The accelerator is starting with seven staffers, and Leggio says it may hire additional staff as the need arises.

“We are looking to help any kind of business that is willing to locate in the Govans/York Road area, not necessarily technology,” she says.
Source: Karyl Leggio, Dean of Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola University Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash

Event Poses the Question: What if Baltimore Were a Startup?

In a January opinion piece in TechCrunch, entrepreneur Jon Bischke suggested the most successful urban leaders are those who view cities like startups. CEOs for Cities (http://www.ceosforcities.org), a national network of urban leaders dedicated to creating next generation cities, will examine that premise at its 2012 Spring National Meeting: The City As a Startup -- Creating Demand, Attracting Talent, Taking Risks and Going to Scale.
The meeting is set for May 17-18 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and is supported by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Former AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case will deliver the morning keynote and also sit on a panel conservation about Startup America. 
CEOs for Cities will also release its latest City Vitals report, a framework for measuring the success of cities. Other panels include considering Songdo, South Korea as the planet's smartest city and using the collective impact approach to catalyze social change. There will also be opportunities to tour Cincinnati attractions and examples of success.
Register here. View a draft agenda here

State Establishes New Tech Transfer Fund

The state and five universities are spending upwards of $5.8 million to help startups move from a concept to a company.  

Senate Bill 239/House Bill 442 establishes the Maryland Innovation Initiative Fund under the aegis of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, or TEDCO. The bill passed the Maryland House and Senate and awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is expected to sign it. 

“Maryland has premiere research universities but it ranks low on technology transfer,” Brian Levine, vice president, government relations, Tech Council of Maryland, says of the fund, which is intended to remedy that situation.
To participate in the fund, five universities are contributing to it. Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore will each contribute at least $200,000 per year. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Morgan State University will contribute at least $100,000 per year. The state has allocated $5 million to the fund, which will begin operating July 1.
Calling the fund “a great benefit for the state,” Rob Rosenbaum, TEDCO’s president and executive director, says. “We have so much research but commercialization is needed. We have to stimulate that activity.”

TEDCO is establishing an office to administer the fund. The fund helps technology concepts reach the startup phase by providing marketing and supporting the the technology transfer offices that already exist at the participating universities.
Rosenbaum says the fund intends to work with 40 projects per year that will result in 12 to 15 new companies. Startup companies initially generate 2.5 jobs on average, with salaries the first year of more than $75,000 per job.
Rosenbaum says that “all policies of the fund have not yet been defined” but the hope is that the startups it helps stay in Maryland.
Ronald Wineholt, vice president of government affairs of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, says the legislation provides better coordination of the universities’ transfer efforts. “Now that it’s under TEDCO, it’s a state-wide effort rather than an individual university,” he says.
Sources: Brian Levine, Tech Council of Maryland; Rob Rosenbaum, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); Ronald Wineholt, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Annapolis Office Building Opens in Former Higher Ed Space

The Annapolis Offices at Bestgate is not the first, or even the only, executive office space in Annapolis. Nonetheless, the Annapolis Offices officially opened last month with what Christy Dupras, president, calls a new product for the area. 

"Unlike the traditional model," which has only individual offices, "we offer private multi-office suites," says Dupras of the Annapolis Office, at 839 Bestgate Road. Once the home of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which moved its office to Baltimore, the building has been renovated for its new use.

There are two other executive office spaces in Annapolis. 

“With the type of small, private companies that do business between Washington, D.C. and Annapolis, we felt there was a lot of opportunity” for another, Dupras says. Moreover, in the vicinity are the U.S. Naval Academy, Anne Arundel Medical Center, numerous state government offices and, 12 miles away, Fort Meade.

“Many people aren’t willing to make a commitment to a commercial lease,” she continues. “We offer another product.”
Dupras says the venture was undertaken with local partners and is a “sister” center of the Washington Offices at Dupont Circle, an executive office space. Clients of the facilities have reciprocity at each.
Rent includes utilities, use of the kitchen, eight hours of meeting room time, cleaning and furnishings. For an additional charge, secretarial, phone service and copy/scan/fax service are available. The rent runs from $500 to $3,000 per month depending on office size. Individual offices range from 82-square feet to 700-square feet with a window view; the multi-office suites hold two to five offices. 

Dupras says the rent "is more economical" than competing office spaces. Leases are flexible and can be signed month to month or for a year at a time.

So far, Annapolis Offices is 50 percent occupied with six different companies. Clients include a financial services company, an IT consultant and a commercial real estate development. Dupras  expects it to be fully leased by 2013.
Annapolis Offices has one full-time employee. Another employee may be hired if needed.
Source: Christy Dupras, Annapolis Offices at Bestgate
Writer: Barbara Pash

State to Review Biz Tax Credits Under New Bill

Newly passed legislation allows the state to review tax credits for individuals and businesses and to evaluate whether the credits are benefiting the state. 

The legislation eliminated a provision to "sunset", or automatically terminate, tax credits after businesses initially opposed the bill.

Tax credits have become a powerful tool in attracting businesses in film, biotech and other industries. Though the tax revenue lost from the credits are small, the number of business tax credits have increased, according to a legislative report on Senate Bill 739/House Bill 764. There are now a total of 30 different tax credits in Maryland, the report states.

The 2012 General Assembly passed the Maryland Program Evaluation Act. Gov. Martin O'Malley has not yet signed the legislation but is expected to do so. The business community opposed one of its provisions, to automatically end tax credits for about 20 to 30 entities on a rolling, five-year basis. The provision was deleted from the final bill.

"Not only would the provision have killed the tax credit, but in order to get the tax credit restored, the General Assembly would have had to act legislatively," says Brian Levine, vice president government relations, Technology Council of Maryland Inc. "The portion [of the bill] that impacted business negatively was removed."

About 70 entities and business-related activities are subject to periodic evaluation for tax credits. Originally opposed by the business community, the Maryland Program Evaluation Act went through several changes before getting the business community’s approval.  

The provision for automatic termination was removed from the bill, which, instead, sets up a process and an evaluation committee of members appointed by leaders of the Senate and House of Delegates that works in consultation with state agencies.
The committee must submit reports to the General Assembly if the tax credit should be continued, with or without changes, or terminated. Public hearings are also required. The onus is on the committee to show why the tax credit should be removed, says Levine, rather than having it happen automatically.

Levine says that legislators “worked with the business community to craft a compromise. We are pleased with the outcome. In the end, we did not oppose the bill.”
Levine says the Tech Council and the business community opposed the automatic termination provision.

For example, he says, the state has an $8 million biotechnology tax credit to help early-stage companies. In the original statue, the biotech tax credit does not have a termination date. Had the provision remained in the bill, it would have meant that "every five years, this tax credit would be terminated automatically and could only be revived through legislative action,” says Levine. “We felt that was untenable.”
Ronald Wineholt, vice president government relations for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, calls the tax credits “one of the most important economic development” tools.

But, he says of the original bill, “We were concerned that automatic termination of tax credits could limit the usefulness of businesses that were considering coming to Maryland.”
Sources: Brian Levine, Tech Council of Maryland; Ronald Wineholt, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Architects Examine Trends in Park Design

Parks aren’t just for beauty and relaxation anymore. In this environmentally-conscious era, they play a role in sustainability as well.

Just how that is accomplished is the subject of a talk on new trends in park design, to be held on Wed. April 25 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark, 829 West Baltimore Street.
Joan Floura, of Baltimore-based Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, and Glenn Marschke, of Wallace Montgomery, will review environmental site design and what it means for public parks. The hour-long event is being held in a Floura Teeter-designed pocket park. It is free and open to professionals, civic leaders and the public.
In particular, the speakers will focus on Maryland’s 2007 Stormwater Management Act and Environmental Site Design, says Kathy Walsh, Floura Teeter’s marketing coordinator.
“The regulations are intended to prevent storm water runoff going into the Chesapeake Bay. They will talk about the types of plants, the design and irrigation,” says Walsh.
The state regulations as well as those in Baltimore City and other local jurisdictions “affect landscape design, especially in urban parks,” she says.
The talk is part of Baltimore Green Works’ 9th Annual Green Week and features a variety of programs through Sat. April 28.
Among them: Wed. April 25, 7 p.m. film premiere and panel discussion of “Green Fire,” life of Aldo Leopold, founder of the modern green movement, at Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave.; Thurs. April 26, 6 p.m., social mixer sponsored by Civic Works, at The Red Maple, 930 N. Charles St.; Sat. April 28, 8:30 a.m. urban farming workshops and tours, at Civic Works’ Real Food Farm in Clifton Park.
Source: Kathy Walsh, Floura Teeter Landscape Architects
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Group Invites Female Techies

Mentoring, for a start. Perhaps an awards program. The mission of the new Women in Tech group is to support women in technology fields but the details of how that will be done are still being decided.
That discussion will take place at the initial meeting of the Women in Tech group, sponsored by the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council, an Annapolis-based membership group. The meeting will be held Wed. April 25 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the headquarters of IntelliGenesis, in Columbia.
IntelliGenesis is a defense contractor whose president and CEO, Angie Lienert, a Chesapeake Regional Tech Council board member, is spearheading the new group.
Technology is a predominantly male field. There are a lot of women but they’re surrounded by men, says Kris Valerio, executive director of the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.
“We want to nurture the women. We want to have female mentors, and we want to inspire young women to pursue technology as a career,” Valerio says. “This is about supporting colleagues and creating positive messages.”
The Women in Tech group is modeled after a pilot program the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council conducted a few years ago. Lienert took the initiative of moving the pilot into a formal program, Valerio says.
Valerio expects about 40 people to attend the meeting, judging from the number who have already registered and the inquiries she is getting. Although the council is a membership organization, non-members can attend the initial Women in Tech meeting.
“We don’t have an agenda yet” for the group, Valerio says. “At the introductory meeting, we will outline our goals and see what interests arise.

Source: Kris Valerio, executive director, The Chesapeake Regional Tech Council
Writer: Barbara Pash

Md. Scientists Study Why Spring Came Early

A scientific study of the change in the seasons has implications for the tourism and travel industries. Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science found that spring is arriving earlier – and autumn will be later – in the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
“Spring is arriving earlier in the cities relative to the rural areas, the reason being the cities have warmer climates because of rooftops and asphalt” streets and parking lots, says Andrew Elmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Also, the cities don’t have vegetation around them, which has a cooling effect.”
Elmore conducted the research with Steven Guinn, of the UMd. Center, Burke Minsley of the U.S. Geological Survey and Andrew Richardson of Harvard University.

Using high resolution satellite data of trees and forests in the region collected over the past 25 years, the group found that the urban landscape traps heat in the summer and holds it throughout the winter, triggering leaves to turn green earlier in the spring and to stay green later into the fall.

The urban heat islands affected the growing season in areas within 20 miles of the cities, allowing for a longer growing season and the cultivation of new varieties.

Elmore says that temperature difference can have an economic impact. “If spring comes earlier, that’s an important time for tourism,” he says. “There are so many people living in urban areas and they are responding to an earlier spring.”
The study did not address climate change specifically, although Elmore may examine that in the future.
Source: Andrew Elmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Ranks High In National Green Jobs Survey

A newly released nationwide survey ranks Maryland in the top five states for the number of “green” jobs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ first-ever Green Goods and Services Service is based on 2010 data. The state’s workforce came in fourth, with 87,000 Marylanders, or 3.6 percent of the workforce, holding jobs in green services and goods production.
“The green economy is thriving in Maryland, and it’s almost certain to expand in the future,” according to Stuart Kaplow, immediate past chair of the Green Building Council of Maryland.
Kaplow said he wasn’t surprised by Maryland’s high ranking. “But it’s nice to be validated” by an official survey, he says.
Of the green jobs in the state, the largest percent was in utilities, accounting for 13.6 percent of all employment in that sector. Almost 9 percent of all workers in the construction industry were “green,” as were those in transportation and warehousing.

California had the most green jobs, 338,000 workers or 2.3 percent of the state’s workforce. Vermont had the highest proportion of green jobs, 13,000 workers or 4.4 percent.

In the mid-Atlantic, Washington, D.C. had more green jobs than Maryland, 3.9 percent of its workforce, mainly because of the many public employees who were involved in green goods and services. Pennsylvania was the only other state in the mid-Atlantic that ranked in the top 10.

Green jobs accounted for 2.4 percent, or 3.1 million jobs, of all workers nationwide.  

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Stuart Kaplow, Green Building Council of Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash

Bmore Fail Conference Highlights Risk Taking

It would be hard to find a more unlikely theme but, nonetheless, the gb.tc (formerly, Greater Baltimore Technology Council) is hosting its first local “fail conference,” officially titled Bmore Fail.
The event takes place on Fri. April 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at an indoor soccer field, the Clarence Du Burns Area, 1301 South Elmwood Ave., Baltimore.
“The idea is to create an environment where risk-taking is okay and safe to do,” says Sharon Paley of gb.tc. “To succeed in business, you have to be prepared to fail.”
Bmore Fail welcomes entrepreneurs, investors, developers, designers, students, artists and others in the innovation and creative communities. Activities for “communal sharing” include a “failure wall,” where attendees can write about their personal experiences, and a “fail off,” where stories of failure and redemption will be told and the audience will vote.
“We’re saying, ‘This happens to everyone,’ so let’s come together and learn from each other’s mistakes,” says Paley, who expects 300 people to attend Bmore Fail.
The agenda is still tentative. There will be speakers, question-and-answer periods, breaks and a performance by the Baltimore Improv Group.
Talks will be on: “Virtues of Failure” by Ron Schmelzer, Bizelo; “Psychology of Fear of Failure” by Dr. Daniel Wagner, clinical psychologist; “Extreme Consequences” by Joe Bocuzzi, airline safety expert, and Dr. Paul Foster, GBMC; “Taking the Plunge” by Tracy Gosson; “Capital Failure” by Rob Rosenbaum, TEDCO; “Security Failure” by Hart Rossman, Cyber Security Services & Solutions at SAIC; “Learn to Fail” by Andrew Coy and Pat O’Shea; and “Peaks and Valleys” by Bryan Sivak, CIO for State of Maryland.

Source: Sharon Paley of gb.tc
Writer: Barbara Pash

Education Software Firm To Double Staff

K12 Enterprise, a business software firm for public school systems, intends to double the number of employees from its current 40 within the next two to three years. The Towson firm's expansion is the result of its acquisition last month of Sartox, a Virginia-based firm that also specialized in business software for public school systems.

The company will hire developers, IT consultants, sales and marketing staff and help desk workers, K12 CEO Andrew Fass says. 

Of K12 Enterprise's employees, 11 came from Sartox. K12 Enterprise employees are being trained in the Sartox system in order to retain Sartox's customers and attract new ones. 
K12 Enterprise is Microsoft's leading enterprise-grade financial and human resource management software for school systems used from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“Sartox occupied the same space but different geography,” Fass says.
K12 Enterprise operates primarily in Pennsylvania, with a presence in New York State, Connecticut, Virginia and Texas, according to Fass. Sartox’s customers were mainly in Virginia and North Carolina, where it served more than 50 percent of the latter state’s 110 school systems. K12 Enterprises intends to attract customers in those and other southern states, Fass says.
K12 Enterprise installs the software, converts the school system’s data to the system, trains school personnel on its use and provides ongoing support and maintenance. The price is based on the number of students in a school district, and can range from $40,000 to $250,000 and up.
K12 Enterprise and Sartox established a partnership in 2010 when Sartox became an official reseller of K12 Enterprise software. Terry Garber, Sartox’s president, has become general manager of K12 Enterprise’s Virginia office. 

Source: K12 Enterprise CEO Andrew Fass
Writer: Barbara Pash

Ingenuity Project Encourages City Students' Scientific Achievements

Two Baltimore City public high school students are representing Charm City at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

The students, both grand prize winners in the Baltimore Science Fair, are enrolled in a little-known nonprofit, the Ingenuity Project. The project spends $1 million a year to encourage middle and high school students in Baltimore City public schools to excel in science.

"We're one of the best-kept secrets in the city," says Karen Footner, Ingenuity's spokesperson.
Footner, an educational consultant, says the project dates to 1993 when educators and advocates of the city school system asked why Baltimore had never had a winner in the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and best known youth science competition.
Acceptance into the project is competitive, based on school grades and multiple tests. Students apply in 5th and 8th grades. The project is held at three middle schools (Roland Park, Hamilton and Mount Royal) and one high school (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute).  If accepted into the project, students have to request to attend those schools.
“The money is spent mainly for teachers for accelerated math and science classes,” says Footner, noting that 80 percent of the funding comes from the Abell Foundation and Baltimore City Public Schools.
There are currently 486 students in the program, split evenly boys and girls and of whom half are African-Americans.
Since 2005, seven Ingenuity students have been semifinalists, and three have been among the top ten winners nationally in the Intel Science Talent Search. “For Baltimore City kids, that’s extraordinary,” Footner says.
The Ingenuity Project will host a fundraiser April 17 at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum, featuring  science writer Flora Lichtman.
Source: Karen Footner, educational consultant
Writer: Barbara Pash
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