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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

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

Political Software Company Prepares for Election Season

The Republican Party primaries kicked off the 2012 election season. State and local campaigns will soon follow and when they do, CampaignOn is ready. Officially launching next month, the campaign management company offers a software package and professional services to candidates who are running for office and incumbents who are seeking re-election.
Company President Herbert Sweren says four candidates – in state, county and legislative races – have already committed to CampaignOn, although he declines to name them until they formally declare for office.
CampaignOn is a joint venture with Weiss PR Associates. In addition to Sweren, the company’s team includes Barry Silverman, Weiss PR managing partner; Dennis Rasmussen, former Maryland State Senator and Delegate and former Baltimore County Executive; and Robert Infussi, Jr. All have extensive experience in political campaigns.
The company’s software package is tailored to the candidate and his or her voting district. Professional services range from marketing and public relations to brand creation and donor/volunteer letters. The company works with candidates of all parties.
“Campaigns find it challenging to know where to go to get these services and then pay for each separately. We have it all in one package,” says Sweren.
CampaignOn’s pricing varies. “A gubernatorial race will be more expensive than a county council race. There’s more work state-wide versus local,” says Sweren, adding, though, that the aim is to make the pricing within the means of the campaigns’ fund-raising.
CampaignOn currently has two interns from Towson University. More may be added as the election season progresses.
Source: Herbert Sweren, CampaignOn
Writer: Barbara Pash

Ad Group Opposes Proposed Tax on Digital Goods

The American Advertising Federation of Baltimore has succeeded in its opposition to a provision in Governor Martin O’Malley’s budget bill that, for the first time, would have taxed digital products and services.

The provision would have imposed a 6 percent tax on digital goods like web videos, software services, sound recordings and apps for newspapers and magazines. Currently, Maryland’s 6 percent sales tax does not cover such products and services.
 Cynthia Blake Sanders, chair of the AAF Baltimore. Sanders, along with Ronald Weinholt of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Stephen Kranz, on behalf of the regional Digital Goods and Services Coalition, testified against the provision at legislative committees’ hearings.
According to Raquel Guillory, the governor’s spokesperson, “there was never an intention to affect advertising agencies.” After lobbying efforts against the provision, it was being rewritten to clarify the language when the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted to reject it.

The governor’s original budget bill, Senate Bill 152/House Bill 87, has been split into a four-bill package. The provision ended up in and was removed from Senate Bill 523. The Senate is expected to debate the resulting bill March 21.
Sanders detailed her objections to the provision in a letter to the governor, writing that “the broad language of [the provision] captures sales of advertising, design and production services provided by AAF Baltimore members.”
There appears to be a movement across the country to tax digital downloads. Guillory says that 30 states tax computer software and 24 states tax digital downloads.
The state estimated the provision would have brought in $5 million in taxes. Sanders disputes that claim, based on numbers provided by the national American Advertising Federation.
Taxes on digital goods “are new and controversial, and there are conflicting laws,” says Sanders, adding that the tax would put Maryland businesses at a disadvantage to their out-of-state competitors.
Sources: Cynthia Blake Sanders, American Advertising Federation of Baltimore; Ronald Weinholt, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Barbara Pash

Presidio Networked Solutions Is Hiring

One of the biggest networked solutions companies in the area is hiring locally. Presidio Networked Solutions is growing, and has two positions to fill in the Baltimore area.

"Presidio continues to grow through the hiring of quality employees and internal advancement, as well as through the acquisition and merger of organizations,” says Ken Sevec, resource manager at Presidio Networked Solutions.

The company recently completed its acquisition of data center operator INX. The move gives Presidio 45 offices in the United States and overseas. INX was primarily known as a healthcare industry managed services provider. The takeover was approved by INX's shareholders Dec. 30.

In Maryland, Presidio Networked Solutions is looking to add staff to its Greenbelt and Lanham Offices. In Greenbelt, Presidio is looking to add a voice over IP engineer and in Lanham, the company is hiring a financial solutions specialist for its sales arm. Presidio also has job openings available at several of its offices in other states and overseas.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Ken Sevec, Presidio Networked Solutions

New Tax Site Hopes To Offer Peace Of Mind

Tax time is usually stressful and harried. One new website in Baltimore, zen-40, aims to change that.

The website prepares tax returns in a self contained application that isn't accessible via the internet for people who are worried about hackers.

“I've created a tax preparation web site that works entirely on the user's computer without sending any data over the Internet," says BobFranzese, founder of zen-40. "Currently, it only handles the simplest of tax returns, but I hope to change that in the future.”

The bare-bones site was created by a tax preparation instructor and applications developer. The website proposes that it represents a more secure way to do your taxes because all of the data is kept on your computer and does not travel over the Internet. The application is an HTML file using JavaScript. None of your tax information ever travels to a server. Tax returns are then sent to your printer as an image to mask their identity. 

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Bob Franzese, zen-40

Render Perfect Changes Focus

Render Perfect Productions Inc. is changing its focus from straight video production for businesses and individuals to full service media and website production. The Towson based will now offer media production, web design and web marketing services instead of just video production.

“We have shifted our services from video production to value-added video production,” says Nikc Miller, director of post production at Render Perfect Productions. “This means that instead of simply doing video for those groups that need it, we pay attention to our clients goals and create a strategy for their video so they can get more sales. This involves getting their video more exposure via landing pages, social media, Google ad buys, whatever.”

Render Perfect is still offering video production services, but has added several services to its menu. The company is promoting video landing pages for websites, Facebook pages and other online use. The web design team has the capacity to do website coding in HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, Flash, JavaScript, jQuery, and more. The website marketing arm offers branding, search engine optimization and social media management. The company has been ramping up its service offerings for the last 12 months to complete a transformation from strict video production to a media and marketing shop.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Nikc Miller, Render Perfect Productions Inc.

Music Mag Pen's Eye View Is Going Mobile

Baltimore music and lifestyle online magazine the Pen's Eye View is expanding its website videos and online interviews and plans to redevelop the website to make it more mobile friendly.

The company is also shopping a pilot to television producers for a series that focuses on musicians showing off their home towns during the day, then playing a live show that night. The magazine's newly revamped website should be ready late spring.

“We're so busy and so happy that we are,” says the Pen's Eye View President Richie Frieman. “Our site got revamped in late 2011 and we'll be doing another big redesign in 2012, focusing on mobile capabilities. Now we're deciding which platform to use.”

The award-winning magazine launched in 2007, and has featured more than 850 interviews with artists, musicians, and luminaries from around the world. A new interview is posted every 48 hours. The magazine has also been working on enhancing its Twitter presence by encouraging concert goers to send in tips by Twitter about live acts that they love.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Richie Frieman, the Pen's Eye View

Tech Hiring Grew Faster Than Average In Baltimore

Technology hiring in the greater Baltimore area is higher than the national average and projected to continue growing. That is according to data from  Hanover information technology staffing and managed services giant TEKsystems.

“Baltimore is one of the most active cities when it comes to people applying for open job postings when compared to other cities in the U.S. of similar size,” says TEKsystems Market Research Manager Jason Hayman.

The company's data shows that from 2010 to 2011, the Baltimore area saw a 20 percent increase in technology job openings. That figure is 5 percent higher than the national average. Baltimore's proximity to many federal agencies that are implementing cyber security and technology initiatives and the financial services, healthcare and insurance industries' demand for IT professionals results in a greater demand for technology jobs.

TEKsystems reports that demand is high for business analysts, Java developers and project managers. Hybrid professionals with both technical and business expertise are also in  demand.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Jason Hayman and Brendan Foerster, TEKsystems

Incite Creative Adds New Clients, Staff

Incite Creative Inc. has added new clients, expanded services and hired new staff as the company celebrates 12 years in business this year.

“We are reaching back out to those [clients] that are less active to evaluate what was done, what needs to be revisited or enhanced," says Dina Wasmer, president of Incite Creative. "We're also continuing to provide mentoring services to a variety of organizations and support entrepreneurs."

Incite Creative recently formed a new relationship with Baltimore artist Stephanie Levine and her company, PaintPrints by Stephanie. The organization's branding, logo design, marketing materials, social media and public relations are being handled by Incite Creative. Stephanie Levine was recently honored for her work as an artist and a person with disabilities at the Hadassah Medical Center’s 6th annual CELL-A-BRATE event.

Incite has also expanded in two areas. Incite is now offering extended services in social media management and search engine optimization. Incite has added services in both areas to more accurately measure the effectiveness and consistency of clients' search engine rankings and social media outreach.

“Many companies and organizations are latching onto social media as a marketing tool but find that after they create their pages, they can't keep up with the posts," Wasmer says. "Consistency is king along with acquiring and engaging a following in order to establish and maintain a thought leadership positioning."

Incite Creative recently added three staff members, and is currently hiring freelance graphic designers and copywriters.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Dina Wasmer, Incite Creative Inc.

WorkingWonders Wants to Become the Whole Foods of Home Goods

Baltimore based green home goods retailer WorkingWonders has made its name as an online retailer of sustainably sourced and green products for homes and families. The company is looking to do something unusual  – make the jump from online retail to traditional brick and mortar.

“WorkingWonders aims to be the first brand nationally recognized for sustainable home & lifestyle retail,” says WorkingWonders CEO BethAnn Lederer. ”In a nutshell, socially and environmentally savvy consumers have the 'Whole Foods' option, but the same does not exist for our homes.”

The company focuses on green products that are manufactured by small and medium sized companies, with the goal of keeping two-thirds of its retail products and production lines coming in from US companies. WorkingWonders is looking to open a flagship style retail location in Baltimore that fulfills this mission.

The WorkingWonders team is developing plans to attract investor interest in the proposed retail location. As they work on this plan for a brick and mortar store, WorkingWonders is continuing to add more sustainable home products to their mix. The company is also accepting applications for internships this year.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: BethAnn Lederer, Working Wonders

Groupon Fundraiser Helps Charm City Animal Rescue Exceed Goal

In this economy, it's been a challenge for Michelle Ingrodi of Charm City Animal Rescue to raise the funds that her charity needs to provide services for homeless animals in Baltimore.

A recent partnership with Groupon's nonprofit fundraising team -- called G-Team -- helped the animal rescue service find the funds it needs to keep the functioning. CCAR's Groupon event ran for three days and raised $2,060. The nonprofit sold 206 Groupons at $10 each, Ingrodi says.

“We aimed for $300, so this was really huge for us,” says CCAR founder Michelle Ingrodi.

The Groupon effort is just the first of this year's creative fundraising efforts for the animal rescue. CCAR will be raising funds through a tattooing benefit in March and a bull roast in April. The animal rescue also plans to continue the fundraising effort with a 1980's prom themed benefit, a “giant yard sale” benefit and New Year's Eve spay and neuter event.

“CCAR is funded only by donations. We don't have a facility yet, I don't even have a car, so both are very big on our list of items needed,” Ingrodi says.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Michelle Ingrodi, Charm City Animal Rescue

Maryland Live Casino to Open Recruitment Center

Maryland Live Casino will open a new recruitment center on-site mid-January.

Near Arundel Mills, the casino developed by Cordish Co. will hire 1,500 workers. The recruitment center will feature computers to allow job seekers to access the company's applications. Maryland Live recruiters will be on hand to answer questions.

The recruiting site currently features openings for several management positions. Listings for other positions in the new complex will be posted in the coming months. The company expects to offer positions in all areas of operations and all shifts. Casino positions will be available as well as positions in food and beverage, environmental services, security, retail, marketing, IT and finance. Interested job seekers are encouraged to register at the company's website now to speed up the applications process as more positions become available.

Opening in the summer, the complex will feature 4,750 slot machines and electronic table games, restaurants, retail stores and a live entertainment venue.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Carmen Gonzales, Maryland Live

Small Business Saturday Promotes Local Shopping

Did you remember Small Business Saturday? Now in its second year, the program sponsored by American Express aims to draw attention to local businesses for post-Thanksgiving shopping.

“I did patronize a couple local businesses in my neighborhood Saturday for that reason, but truth be told, I tend to shop local for everything I can, including Christmas presents," says Zoe Saint-Paul, local blogger and founder of SlowMama.com

Neighborhood retailers were offered an advertising boost this year featuring politicians like U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin encouraging Marylanders to “Shop Small” this holiday season. Cardin, a Democrat who represents Maryland, recently co-sponsored a bill to give Small Business Saturday an official designation and date in 2011.

Alexa Webb, owner of Alexa Webb Artisan Jewelry in Federal Hill, says sales from Small Business Saturday increased 480 percent this year compared with last year. Webb credits the advertising campaign in part.

According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 212 million shoppers spent $45 billion on consumer purchases during Thanksgiving weekend last year. Figures are not yet available for this year.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: National Retail Federation; Alexa Webb, Alexa Webb Artisan Jewelry; Zoe Saint-Paul, SlowMama.com; the Office of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Mindgrub Moves to Catonsville, Eyes Other Cities for Growth

Social media and application development company Mindgrub Technologies LLC could grow beyond Baltimore.

President Todd Marks says the company is considering an expansion to New York, Washington, D.C., Austin, Los Angeles or Las Vegas where it has clients.

The company recently tripled the size of its staff and moved into a new office in the historic First National Bank building in Catonsville.

“We were practically sitting on each other’s laps, so we had to make another move,” Todd Marks says. “Fortunately for us we lucked into one of the best buildings. The area we are in has some of the finest restaurants around, a skate park behind us and a very hip community."

Marks says he has dubbed his new basement “the Vault,” which will be its new wine cellar.

Mindgrub is still looking for help. The company is currently hiring a junior account manager, production manager, several mobile and software engineers and a quality assurance lead.

Mindgrub will be launching a new mobile app in Las Vegas this week.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Todd Marks, Mindgrub
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