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KoolSpan, AccelerEyes, Join UMBC Incubator

An Atlanta software company and a Bethesda mobile security firm are the newest companies to join a University of Maryland, Baltimore County incubator sponsored by Northrop Grumman.

Both AccelerEyes and KoolSpan Inc. say they plan to grow their staff at the Northrop Grumman Cync Program, which looks for startups in the cybersecurity arena.

AccelerEyes currently has one employee at the Catonsville school but its Director of Business Development Scott Blakeslee says it could add sales and engineering staff in the next six months to a year as it hopefully makes inroads in the defense industry.

Late last year, AccelerEyes launched a new product called ArrayFire, a software library that speeds up application development. It also offers a consulting service to help businesses speed up their development of software code.

Blakeslee says the company joined the incubator to take advantage of the technical resources and research assistance thatUMBC and Northrop Grumman provide.

AccelerEyes employs 10 in Atlanta.

KoolSpan, which employs around 25 in total, also has just one employee at UMBC. But CEO Gregg Smith says he hopes to add software talent from UMBC as the company expands its mobile security products worldwide. With clients in 42 countries,KoolSpan is “aggressively growing its international business,” Smith says. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Gregg Smith, KookSpan; Scott Blakeslee, AccelerEyes

Wegmans Expanding Culinary Staff for New Columbia Store

The competition is heating up for foodies who want to work at the new Columbia Wegmans.

Wegmans Food Markets has received more than 6,000 resumes from applicants eager to work at the Howard County store, a local spokeswoman says.

Opening June 17, the Howard County store will hire 700, or about 11 percent of the applicants who have thus far applied. Of those positions, 250 will work full-time. Not surprisingly, the company was ranked No. 4 this year in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

The hiring focus right now is on culinary jobs — chefs, line cooks and other folks who can work in food service, says Cynthia Glover, who handles local PR for Wegmans.

Jim Thompson, who worked in the Bel Air store, will be Columbia’s merchandising manager, says Store Manager Wendy Webster. Nate Starkweather has moved from New Jersey to work as the store’s perishable manager. Tom Schwarzweller will be its executive chef and Rob Griffin its service manager. Both worked at the Hunt Valley location.

The 145,000-square-foot store will house a 432-seat restaurant and market serving up made-to-order sushi, ice cream, a hot-and-cold veggie bar and other prepared foods. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Cynthia Glover; Wendy Webster, Wegmans

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

Closed Rec Center May Become Tech Center

Many of Baltimore's neighborhood recreation centers are scheduled to close, or have closed already, as a result of the city's continuing budget woes. Members of the Riverside community and Digital Harbor High School boosters have been looking at ways to transform the soon to be shuttered South Baltimore Recreation Center into a neighborhood technology center.

A meeting on the subject will be held Wednesday, Feb. 29 at the Baltimore Room at 100 Harbor View Dr. The meeting is being held jointly by the Key Highway Community Association and the HarborView Social Committee.

Andrew Coy, an educator at Digital Harbor High School who was named one of “10 Rock Stars Making A Difference In Baltimore” by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, will fill the community in on plans to pay for the transformation. Coy is looking at using grant money to get the centers up and running. Digital Harbor students will also be presenting information about how technology impacts their education. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m..

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Jane Wehrle, founder of the Loop, an activity network in South Baltimore 

Clapp Communications Expanding Office

Clapp Communications is having a busy spring. The Lutherville marketing agency is moving to a larger office, adding new clients and employees. 

The company has added several new clients to its roster, including the Milton Inn. The agency will handle branding, social media and graphic design for the historic Sparks restaurant. To keep up with the influx of new work, Clapp Communications added two employees in February and will add more staff in early March.

Formerly known as Barb Clapp Advertising & Marketing, the company decided on a name change in November as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. The name change was intended to better reflect the firm's current purpose. Along with the name change has come expansion for the company, both here in Greater Baltimore and in a new market. The firm is expanding its Lutherville office next month. In November, it added a second office in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source Colleen Riopko, Barb Clapp; Clapp Communications 

Port of Baltimore Company Installs Solar Trackers

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics’ mid-Atlantic terminal facility at the Port of Baltimore uses two Global Electric Motorcars to transport employees and materials around the marine terminal facility. The company is installing three new solar trackers manufactured by Advanced Technology & Research Corp. of Columbia.

“We hope the energy produced by the solar trackers can offset completely the power needed to operate the electric vehicles,” says Michael Derby, WWL’s general manager for North Atlantic Operations.

The electric vehicles stay charged for three to five days. The dual-panel solar units that are providing the new source of power for the electric vehicle chargers employ a GPS-enabled mechanism to follow the sun and produce 25 to 45 percent more electricity per day than conventional fixed-solar panels.

Since they are being used specifically for the maintenance of electric vehicles instead of powering other systems, these trackers can incorporate car-charging units in each post on which the solar panels are mounted. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics will consider deploying more trackers at its other facilities if the initial batch proves successful.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Alan Cohen, Advanced Technology & Research Corporation; Michael Derby, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics

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

Baltimore County Expands Veteran Hiring Initiative

Baltimore County is adding more services and greater outreach to the HOMEFRONT – Our Turn To Serve veteran reintegration program. The program is designed to help veterans returning from deployment find jobs and settle back in at home in Baltimore.

The program offers veterans an array of services to help with reintegration, says Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler. A special section of the county website is dedicated to providing veterans with a one stop clearinghouse of information about veterans services. Baltimore County's Workforce Centers in Hunt Valley, Eastpoint and Randallstown have a full time staffer at each location dedicated to helping veterans find new jobs. Baltimore County has also instituted a hiring preference for veterans, giving them priority for screening and hiring for vacant county positions.

Baltimore County has open positions in nursing, corrections, emergency services and purchasing. The county will be spreading the word about its veterans initiatives and deploying its Mobile Career Center at Yellow Ribbon Reintegration events sponsored by the National Guard throughout the year.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Ellen Kobler, Baltimore County Office of Communications

Columbia's triCerat Gets New President, CFO

Columbia based technology firm triCerat is shaking things up this winter.

The enterprise solutions and desktop applications firm has hired a new president and a new chief financial officer as it beta tests a new scanning application.

Vasilios Peros was recently named president and general counsel. Peros is known for his work as the chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s intellectual property division and was the winner of Venable LLP’s 2005 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award. Timothy L. Beal has been named triCerat's new Chief Financial Officer.

"I enjoy managing a company, putting the pieces together,” Peros says. “ We have already decided that we're going to crank it up and compete at a much higher level.”

Best known for its ScrewDrivers print management solution, triCerat is developing a new product. The company's next office management solution Scanect will be focused on scanning in an enterprise environment. The new application automatically configures an office's scanners from the server side. It is in beta testing an expected to release in early spring.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Vasilios Peros, triCerat

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.

AVF Consulting Signs Deal With American Psychological Association

AVF Consulting has just picked up a new client, the American Psychological Association. AVF's new relationship with the APA means new jobs and a big new project for the 25-year-old accounting and supply chain software company.

The association started looking for a company that could find the business solutions that they needed more than a year ago. AVF completed several days of product demonstrations, and approximately 300 hours of requirements analysis before the contract was signed.

The association will install Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Serenic Navigator. AVF expects implementation to take about 12 months, and plans to begin the process in March, President Jeremy Fass says. The process will start with the association's back office accounting and move into the organization's supply chain in later stages.

AVF Consulting is hiring to meet the increased workload. The company is searching for an experienced project manager, senior consultants and a customer support manager.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Jeremy Fass, AVF Consulting

PlayScreen Launches New Poker App

Baltimore based social media games company PlayScreen is continuing to expand its product lines with new mobile gaming apps. 

The company's latest product, PlayScreen Poker, is available for download for free in the Apple App Store. In addition to the traditional game play model of most poker apps, PlayScreen Poker allows users to connect with their friends through Facebook Connect and Apple Game Center. The game also allows players to score achievements and find hidden objects.

PlayScreen is continuing to expand its offerings in 2012.

PlayScreen has also developed a successful app centered on bocce ball. The PlayScreen app is the most popular bocce ball app for iPhone and iPod Touch, and the top sports game in Italy. The company is currently developing a tournament version of its bocce ball app that is scheduled for release in late 2012.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Vasilios Peros, PlayScreen
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