Archives For February 2011

The Community’s Banker

MDbizMedia —  February 28, 2011 — Leave a comment

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Darius Davis, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Harbor Bank

When Darius Davis began his banking career over 25 years ago, he learned early that making personal connections was important.

“I started at the bottom as a collector, right out of college at Wachovia Bank & Trust,” he said.  “I had a bank car, I had a list of delinquent loan customers and I was out collecting.  It was interesting. I would have to repossess cars and mobile homes to try to collect payments. It was a really good way to start in banking because I learned about people. ”

Davis began his banking career in 1984.  After two years, he was promoted to personal banker and developed and managed individual banking relationships, including consumer loans, mortgage loans and even commercial lending.  In 1988, he was promoted to branch manager, and in 1992, he was promoted again to Private & Business Banker where he helped solicit, develop and manage the relationships of small businesses and high net worth individuals.  He stayed with Wachovia for ten years, learning the banking trade but always felt that something was missing.

In 1994, he decided to look into community banking.  He researched local community banks and contacted Mechanics & Farmers Bank, a local African-American owned bank in North Carolina. He was hired as a Commercial Loan Officer overseeing new business development.  It was there where he says he learned the most about banking and really got the chance to work with people in the community.

“At a community bank is really where I learned banking. At a big bank, you’re sort of compartmentalized – you don’t really understand everything you are doing and the impact it has,” he said.  “When I went into community banking, I really learned a lot more – it’s much smaller – a small business – and you get to learn all aspects of banking.”

Within eight months of his new position at Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Davis was promoted to a newly created position: Branch Sales & Quality Assurance Manager and assistant to the CEO.  In this role, he created and implemented the bank’s Business Development program.  Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Senior Vice President and was charged with improving the bank’s lagging performance in the state’s largest market.

In 1998, seeking a new challenge, Davis took a job at United National Bank, the first and only minority-owned bank in Fayetteville and Cumberland County, North Carolina as the Director, President and Chief Executive Officer.  Davis’s main mission in that role was to turnaround the troubled financial institution.  In his two-year tenure, Davis reduced the bank’s troubled loan portfolio by 30 percent, refined the capital structure, reduced staff turnover by 40 percent, produced an investment strategy and enhanced the bank’s poor reputation within the community.  The bank was ultimately bought by Omni National Bank.

A native of New York, Davis was looking to move closer to his hometown, but still wanted to stay in community banking.  In 2002, he settled in Baltimore and was hired as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Harbor Bank of Maryland, a minority-owned community bank.  Founded in 1982, the Harbor Bank of Maryland began with $2.1 million of assets and today boasts $304 million in assets, with branches located across the State.  Davis felt it was important to keep his banking roots in the African-American community and the Harbor Bank’s rich history in the Baltimore metropolitan area was a perfect fit.

“As I moved around in my career in banking, I realized that the African-American community did not understand the banking products and services. I felt this was an opportunity to become more involved in educating the community,” he said.  “During my development, I had a lot of people who assisted me along the way, and this was really a way for me to give back.  Community service is very important to me and working in African-American owned banks was a good fit for me.”

No matter what the economy looks like, Davis feels that the Harbor Bank of Maryland still has a competitive advantage over national banks, and despite tough economic times, Harbor Bank has continued to concentrate on their Main Street clients.

“As a community bank we know the area.  The Chair of the bank, Joe Haskins, this is his home,” he said.  “We have a vested interest in this area. We can compete against national banks because people feel like this is their neighborhood, their family.”

Davis also notes that as the State continues to work to create and retain jobs, small businesses, who represent 97 percent of all employers in the State, should take advantage of the programs the State provides.

“I am proud to say that Harbor Bank was the first bank to utilize the State’s Small Business Loan Guaranty program,” he said. “The main objective is to continue to be there to finance small businesses.  The main issue that most small businesses have is access to capital.  And a lot of times it’s an education process. By us being a community bank – we have local decision-making.  We get to know these customers.”

Last September, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, a bill that expanded the capacity of small business loan guarantee programs, and that was based in part on Maryland’s MIDFA loan guarantee program, which has helped to leverage more than $2.2 billion of private sector financing over the years for Maryland businesses.

Today, Davis sits on several boards and commissions, including the Emerging Technology Centers (ETC).  With his current role as Chief Operating Officer at Harbor Bank, Davis hopes to combine his knowledge and experience in banking to help fund more technology companies in Maryland.  He said most banks don’t want to invest in tech companies until they are up and running because of the risk that is involved, but working with the board of the ETC, he hopes to line up venture capitalists with these companies so that the banks can invest in them.  Davis attended InvestMaryland day in Annapolis earlier this month and said that Harbor Bank is interested in looking at tech companies.

“The way technology is going now, we have to be a player.  A lot of these companies have trouble getting start-up financing, but once they do, their products soar and they become very successful,” he said.  “Our goal is to partner with the companies early on and as they grow, they will know they had a partner in us from the beginning. We are not just a business and a bank trying to make a profit.  We really are trying to make a difference in the community.”

The Solo Entrepreneur

MDbizMedia —  February 25, 2011 — 1 Comment

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia



Jay Steinmetz, Solo Entrepreneur, CEO & President of Barcoding, Inc.

To say that Jay Steinmetz is connected to the world is an understatement.  As he sits in his office at the headquarters of his successful inventory-tracking system company, Barcoding, Inc., he has two desktop computers, two laptops and an iPhone all being used at once.


“I was having computer issues, but I use these laptops to check stocks,” he said.

Perhaps the success of his company is partial to his constant connectivity and his technological know-how.  Steinmetz began his career developing mainframe applicators for a defense contractor but wasn’t a fan of the mainframe programming and jumped on the chance to use portable technology.

“I was developing mainframe applications right out of college for a defense contractor designing tracking systems, but mostly online via mainframe and I hated it. It was all COBOL programming and it was terrible,” he said.  “There was an opportunity to get into barcoding and working with non-mainframes and portable technology, so I jumped at it.  And it turned out to be mostly barcoding, tracking and tracing. And I liked doing it.”

The barcoding technology and his expertise landed him a job in Southern California, which was then acquired by a company in Maryland.  Steinmetz came to Maryland to manage all of the software operations.  But he felt that the company wasn’t going anywhere.

“The company at the time couldn’t see the importance of the Internet – it’s where things were moving. I knew it was going to be big,” he said.  “They didn’t want anything to do with it, so I left – went to India for a few months – and quit.”

He got another job managing software operations, while working part-time to start his own company.  In 1997, Steinmetz recruited a friend to start CaptureTech, a company that focused on the reselling of barcoding scanners and software tracking inventory, but the partnership turned sour.  After a legal battle, including a 24-hour stint in jail, Steinmetz acquired full ownership rights of CaptureTech, including legal rights to the name.

In 1999, Steinmetz went solo, taking what money he had and created Barcoding, Inc., starting all over again with only a handful of clients.    Today, he has approximately 90 employees, with offices throughout the country – including Chicago, Colorado, Florida and Texas – with over 2,500 organizations depending on the company for barcoding and radio frequency identification applications, and projections of reaching $50 million in revenue for 2011.

When thinking about barcoding technology, it’s easy to imagine the delivery guy scanning in and delivering packages, or handing over your mobile phone to be scanned as your ticket to a concert.  But Steinmetz says the technology can and has been used for so much more.  In Georgia, for example, the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of Georgia, whose goal was to protect the State’s cotton crops, needed a way to track each trap they set in a large geographic area.  Steinmetz’s team was able to provide the organization with a tracking device with GPS and other features that enabled them to map their locations and study any trends, ultimately preventing a cotton crop loss.  The technology can be used to track anything and offers high-tech solutions for any industry.

“We’re an integrator – we invented our own technology,” he said.  “In the case of trash collection, for instance, we built a device that’s about the size of my hand, which has GPS on it and you put it on the back of the truck magnetically and it tracks where the truck has been.  It tracks each container when it was emptied, if it was emptied, where it was emptied.  We can even track the weight, and we know if somebody was collecting trash on a route they weren’t supposed to cover, or if they aren’t collecting trash at all.”

In his twelve years of being in business, Steinmetz has been the recipient of numerous awards and has also been appointed as Chair of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), and was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Small Business Commission earlier this year.

“Small business is the focal point of the jobs that pay for government salaries and all the benefits we have as a society,” he said.  “Without small business, medium business and large business, we have no way to exist properly as our economy would support.  As a member of the Commission on Small Business, I want to create visibility to the problems that small businesses have.  Now is the time for us to analyze what is inhibiting small businesses from growing and maintaining local relationships.”

What’s next for Barcoding?

“In conjunction with a partner company, we are actively marketing a bi-state display card – it’s the size of a credit card and uses radio frequency identification,” he said.  “It could be used for boarding passes, gift cards, coupons — you name it.”


by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

From Accounting to Police Work

Serina Roy went to college to get an accounting degree and became a certified public accountant because that seemed to be the most sensible thing to do.  But it wasn’t her calling.

“I was really good at numbers and balancing things and accounting was just a natural, easy thing for me to do,” she said.  “As I was doing that, I realized it wasn’t challenging enough.”

While working as an accountant for Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Roy went on a ride-along with a co-worker’s husband who was a city police officer.

“I went on this ride-along and instantly fell in love with what he was doing,” she said.  “He was moving around, he was outside, he was solving problems and he was meeting people.  After that ride, I couldn’t sleep, so I decided that this is what I want to do – this was my calling.”

Roy trained and studied and applied to the academy a year later.  But there was one part of the test she couldn’t master.

“I am almost 5’2 and this test required you to stand at arm’s length away from a seven-foot wall and jump, reach up and pull yourself up over the wall and count the fingers of the person standing on the other side.  I could never do it,” she said.

But on the day of the admissions test, she aced it.

“It must have been adrenaline.  I was accepted into the academy and I was the only woman who got accepted into the academy that year.”

That was 1996.

The Love of Coffee – the True Calling

Roy enjoyed her job as a Frederick City Police officer but longed for a relaxing hobby in her spare time.

“I wanted to find something relaxing to do and I loved coffee so I bought a coffee roaster. It’s a two-pound coffee roaster, and I just had it at my house and I was roasting for myself,” Roy said.

But a Westminster company got a hold of a pound of her coffee and wanted more.  So she began roasting up to 200 pounds per week on her roaster – a roaster that takes about fifteen minutes for every two pounds.  And more requests began to trickle in.

Dublin Roasters was born.  From her home on Dublin Road in Walkersville, Roy turned her hobby – accidentally – into a business.

The requests for her coffee continued to trickle in, but Roy was still trying to figure out how to juggle her full-time job, raise her daughter and meet her customers’ needs on a two-pound roaster.  When she was finally able to afford it, she had a ten-pound roaster specially made for her in Oklahoma, and began roasting for a few more shops in the local area. The larger roaster and steady business enabled her to get larger beans and better prices.

“After about 10 years of being in business, coffee was rising past the police level and I realized that I was missing important things in my daughter’s life like dances, birthdays and holidays because I was juggling these two jobs,” Roy said.  “So I decided to give the coffee thing a shot.”

Roy retired from police work in 2006 and opened her first store in New Market in 2007.  The opening of her shop was serendipitous.

“By that time, the farmers markets began hitting the scene and I started using that as a marketing tool.  I got a cargo trailer, and had it hand-painted with the logo on the side. I put the two-pound roaster in there along with the grinders.  It was a mobile coffee shop,” she said.  “People loved it – they could see the demonstration of the roasting, they could buy a cup of coffee or they could buy a pound of coffee and it could be ground right there.  I ended up doing four or five farmers markets a week.”

Roy’s presence at the farmers markets drew customers to her shop after the markets closed.  Eventually, just as her two-pound roaster was unable to handle the demands, her 500 square foot shop became too small. In November of 2010, she moved Dublin Roasters to a 3,700 square foot space in Frederick.

Since moving into her new space, Roy’s client list expanded to include restaurants like Volt, Moxie, Shab Row Bistro and Common Market, to name a few.  Roy’s retail sales have also grown which enabled her to purchase her biggest roaster yet: a 65-pound roaster she nicknamed Bumblebee because of its yellow paint.  (Roy says that by giving the machine a name, it has less chances of breaking down.  She has also named her grinders:  Earl, the slow flavor grinder; Stan, the regular grinder; and Gary, the espresso grinder).

Her growth has also enabled her to hire help.

“I have owner employees.  I have made the folks that work for me use the sweat-equity into actually owning the company,” she said. “They put in ten percent of the labor in addition to being paid and now they are co-owners.  They make ten percent of whatever profits we make.”

Roy works seven days a week but doesn’t feel as though it’s actual work.  She takes pride in her work, knowing that she has purchased fair trade coffee beans, giving people a decent wage.  Now that she has more room in her shop for retail and community space where customers can surf the web or lounge on the sofas, she still finds herself wandering back to where it all began—roasting coffee to the hum of Bumblebee.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

When Kimberly Brown started working part-time at Cell Systems, Inc. while studying to get her doctorate in chemical engineering, she didn’t know that was the last place she would work before starting her own business.

“I started part-time as the second employee. I finished my studies and ended up staying with that company, growing the scope of the projects,” she said.  “It changed my whole career path.  My doctorate is focused in nanotechnology. I always wanted to do research. I saw an opportunity to stay out of corporate America and become a small business owner.”

She began working as an intern in 1998 for Cell Systems, Inc., a biotechnology compliance company, whose main client was Walter Reed’s Pilot Bioproduction Facility.  After she completed her doctorate work, she continued to work for Cell Systems as a validation manager for the Walter Reed Bioproduction Facility and as the operations manager for Cell Systems.  During her work at Cell Systems she increased the project scope at Walter Reed to include quality system development, custom software to support FDA regulated activities, and the validation master plan to ensure sterile vaccines, increasing the contract with the addition of validation services, managing the environmental monitoring system, and commissioning for clean rooms and utilities.

In 2007, she purchased the contract rights from Cell Systems, and received the contract to continue providing services to Walter Reed.  Her client list has grown to include Ft. Detrick, Coca-Cola, and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, among others.  Since 2007, the company has grown from two employees to 23 with annual revenue of over $1 million.  She was the winner of the 2009 Top 100 Minority Business Enterprises and is a member of the Maryland Green Registry.

Brown has also expanded her company’s services overseas and helps countries in Africa with malaria testing.  She hopes to continue to expand her company’s mission:  “to deliver ‘rock solid’ quality system products and services to our customers,’” through her non-profit affiliate, Global Outcomes.

The goal of Global Outcomes is to provide “an applied laboratory strengthening program that will give a developing project the tools it needs to succeed.”  Some of the current projects include: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs for Baltimore City; lab strengthening work in Tanzania; and working with African businesswomen in Cameroon in clean water, healthcare, and education related fields.

“This year, we have several programs that are aligned with our goals to change the world and to strengthen labs worldwide,” Dr. Brown said.  “We are setting up an office in Ghana to expand our work in Africa and we are just continuing to grow and change the world to do everything we can for our clients and for our communities.”

The Power of Perseverance

MDbizMedia —  February 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

As evidenced by the crowd that gathered for InvestMaryland day in Annapolis last week, the entrepreneurial spirit in Maryland is high.

The 2009 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity

In their 2009 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, the Kauffman Foundation found that in 2009, an average of 0.34 percent of the adult population, or 340 out of 100,000 adults, created a new business each month. Men showed the highest increase – 0.42 to 0.43 percent – in entrepreneurial activity from 2008 to 2009. The report also noted that African-Americans showed the highest increase in entrepreneurial activity, “0.22 percent in 2008 to 0.27 percent in 2009, which was the highest rate over the fourteen years of reported data.”

While Maryland ranked in the middle in terms of entrepreneurial activity in the country (with Mississippi showing the lowest and Montana and Oklahoma showing the highest), 290 per 100,000 adults were starting new businesses each month from 2008 to 2009. However, Maryland did experience a positive change in its entrepreneurial activity rate from 2008 to 2009, increasing from 0.23 to 0.29 percent.

This week, in celebration of National Entrepreneurship week, we will take a closer look at some of those Maryland entrepreneurs who have made their ideas and dreams into reality. Entrepreneurs like Kim Brown who took over a business while studying to get her doctorate and made it her own. And Serina Roy, the accidental entrepreneur, who turned her love of coffee into a business. And finally Jay Steinmetz, the inventory specialist, who learned the hard way that sometimes you have to go it alone.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

It was standing room only for the hundreds of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and small business owners that convened in Annapolis early today in support of Governor O’Malley’s InvestMaryland legislation, a premium tax credit program that will raise $100 million in venture capital funds to help fuel innovation and spur job creation in Maryland.  The Governor, Secretary Christian Johansson and business leaders testified in support of the legislation in the Maryland Senate and House.

InvestMaryland is designed to generate $100 million by auctioning off tax credits to insurance companies with at least $1 million in tax liability, with each investment deposited into the Maryland Venture Fund.  The State will receive 100% of its principal investment back from each firm and 80% of all other profits received from successful business ventures.  The program aims to stimulate entrepreneurship and spur technological discoveries by providing adequate funding for seed and early stage ventures.

Governor O'Malley and DBED Secretary Johansson testify before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee in support of the InvestMaryland legislation.

“This program is not about the next Silicon Valley.  This program will help us become the next Maryland.  We need to start being a better version of ourselves,” Dave Troy, a Baltimore-based entrepreneur said.  “This program is about getting our best and brightest to stay here. We tend to lose our best and brightest to states like California and Massachusetts – and the good news is that is changing now, but it will happen less if we couple it with key priorities like InvestMaryland.”

Earlier this month, President Obama announced his budget proposal which included a $1 million increase for the National Institutes of Health.  A budget document prepared by the White House, stated, “The challenge is for the United States to make private and public investments in science, research and development that will keep the United States as the world’s leader in innovation for decades to come.”

Last month, the Milken Institute ranked Maryland second in the nation for technology and science assets, and ranked Maryland high in human capital investments, research and development inputs, and technology and science workforce.  Compared to most states, Maryland has a higher proportion of businesses focused on advanced technological discoveries, life sciences and research and development – sectors that are the cornerstone of the innovation economy.  High technology companies represented 12 percent of Maryland’s workforce and 9 percent of all Maryland establishments in 2009.

Karl Gumtow, CEO and Founder of Cyberpoint International, a cybersecurity company located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, said, “Twenty percent of the staff I have hired has come from California and Massachusetts.  People want to work in Maryland.  No one else is going to invest in Maryland.  We have to invest in ourselves.”

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Ken Davis has tasked his marketing team to come up with a plan to help tell the story of his company, Mainstreet Technologies.  Seated in their conference room, he helps the team brainstorm using some of the words that describe Mainstreet’s philosophy and background: community, values, commitment and service.

Founded in 1997, the company began as an idea of his brother, Rufus, a retired Navy Veteran who was based in Maryland and working in the information technology sector.  Ken, who was living in Michigan at the time, was Rufus’ head cheerleader and eventually decided to leave his managerial job at GM to build Mainstreet from the ground up.

Together, they decided that because of its friendly business climate and its proximity to the federal government, Maryland was the best place to base their company.  From Rufus’ basement they called potential clients to get their business going.  But getting banks to back them wasn’t always easy.

“When we started, we did things the old-fashioned way,” Davis said.  “We won contracts instead of trying to find investors.  And we would have to perform on that contract.  We would run to the bank to show them that we won a contract and would have to ask them to give us funding so we could perform on our promise.”

Davis said that banks didn’t always believe in them and had difficulty finding money when they first started.  But through the help of the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), Davis was considered for financing.

“The financing available through the [Maryland] Department of Business and Economic Development was our life bread.  Through Stanley Tucker’s organization, they introduced us to DBED and all the capital funding programs,” he said.  “We got a mixture of lines of credit and venture capital funding that financed our business. We had the confidence that we had sufficient working capital through the Maryland infrastructure to succeed.”

That is why Davis also supports the InvestMaryland initiative because he believes it gives businesses, especially small businesses like his, the chance to succeed.

“Part of the reason banks aren’t necessarily comfortable with us is our small size,” he said.  “Even at our level, at $5 million, we still need some surety with banks because we are a small business.”

“If it wasn’t for the support of Maryland, I think Mainstreet would look a lot different if we didn’t have that state partnership in terms of the capital we borrowed from them,” he said.  “As Rufus and I move forward we have to look back and make sure that others behind us can progress.  I look at InvestMaryland as one of those opportunities not just to help myself but to help smaller businesses really take root and believe in their dream and give them the confidence and move forward to execute.  From our perspective, InvestMaryland is replicating what already happened to us.”

The pay it forward mentality that Ken and Rufus have is the real root of their company philosophy.  They “believe that training the young innovators is the best way to ensure corporate sustainability because knowledge is indispensable.” Mainstreet is one of many black-owned small businesses in Maryland that have had great success.  They hope to pass on their success to others.

Art is Good for the Economy

MDbizMedia —  February 10, 2011 — 1 Comment

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

DBED Secretary Christian Johansson addresses advocates for the arts at Maryland Arts Day.

Legislators and advocates for the arts convened in Annapolis yesterday for the 13th Annual Maryland Arts Day.  The event, sponsored by Maryland Citizens for the Arts, provided an opportunity for Maryland’s arts community to express their support of state funding for the arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

For FY 2012, Governor O’Malley appropriated $13.3 million for the Maryland State Arts Council in the Maryland General Fund. States across the country, including Texas, Kansas, and South Carolina are eliminating arts funding to tackle budget woes.

“The Governor and those of us working at the Department of Business and Economic Development fully understand the impact that the arts have, not only on our state’s economy but also on our quality of life in Maryland,” Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson said.  “The fact is plain and simple that the Arts mean jobs and business in Maryland.”

According to the Fiscal Year 2009 Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts Organizations in Maryland study, the arts industry in Maryland generated a total economic impact of $1.14 billion dollars, a total of 12,022 jobs and $426 million in salaries for our state, and $41.4 million in state and local taxes in FY2009.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia


The U.S. Census Bureau today released data on black-owned businesses in the country from their 2007 Survey of Business Owners, part of the 2007 Economic Census. Maryland ranked second in the nation of States with the largest percentage of black-owned businesses, with a total of 102,135.  The District of Columbia ranked first.

Of the large counties in the nation with the highest percentage of black owned firms, Prince George’s County ranked first and Baltimore City ranked third in the nation.  Baltimore City, with a total of 14,644 firms, was also high on the list of large cities with a high percentage of black owned firms.

The data release shows that the number of black-owned businesses in the Washington metropolitan region increased by 42.1 percent.  Receipts generated by these businesses increased to $9.3 billion, a 44.2 percent increase.

According to the report, the nation saw a 60.5 percent increase of nonfarm U.S. businesses owned by blacks.  The nation also saw a 22 percent increase in black-owned employer firms, with a total payroll of $23.9 billion.

The industries showing the largest number of black-owned businesses in the Washington metropolitan area included health care and social assistance and professional, scientific, and technical services.


by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

When Joseph Amprey was a kid, he was always asking “Why?”

“I was one of those kids that always asked ‘why,’ much to the chagrin of my parents.  And that never stopped, I just kept asking ‘why,’” he said.  His natural curiosity helped him to obtain his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, which then led to him obtaining both a medical degree and a doctorate in immunology.

“Getting the Ph.D. along with the M.D. allowed me to continue to ask ‘why’ in terms of why we treat people the way we do, and understanding disease from a cellular level.  That’s the impetus for me getting both degrees.”

Those degrees, his curiosity and his medical practice were what led him to his venture capital career.

He joined MedImmune Ventures in 2006 as the first full-time venture employee and worked closely with Peter A. Kiener, investing in early-stage biotechnology companies.  Amprey and Kiener worked closely together at MedImmune and eventually decided to pursue their own biopharmaceutical company to further pursue research and development in antibody therapies. They formed Zyngenia, with their Zybodies platform in 2009, with Kiener serving as the President & CEO and Amprey serving as the Chief Business Officer.

Amprey is excited about Zyngenia’s technology platform, Zybodies. These multi-specific antibody-based therapeutics have the ability to target multiple disease pathways simultaneously with one drug.  He said that there are a number of companies that are focused on this area of drug development and that this new biotechnology is the wave of the future. “I think it’s really going to have an impact on disease in the future.”

The company has grown from two employees to 26 employees – 21 of which are R&D scientists – in just over 12 months.  Based on the Zybody platform’s success in early-stage development, Zyngenia could be hiring more in the next year.

“We could hire anywhere from 10 to 15 employees in the next year to year and a half – we are building a platform, and with this platform, we believe there are a number of therapeutic opportunities – with autoimmune, cancer as well as other therapeutics including infectious disease,” Amprey said.  “We think the  Zybody platform is very broad and with that comes a number of therapeutic opportunities.  And with those opportunities, it means we have to hire more people.”

Amprey hopes that Zyngenia will have the same success story as MedImmune, a Maryland-based company that started 20 years ago with a foundation for research and development in the biotech world.






by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia


Every February we pay tribute to our African American brothers and sisters who fought hard in this country to achieve equal rights.  And it is on this occasion that in addition to honoring their sacrifices, we honor their great achievements.  Maryland claims home to many of the great African-American leaders in our history – leaders like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thurgood Marshall who helped pave a brighter future for African Americans in our country.

But Maryland is also home to many great African American leaders and achievers today, especially in the world of business. Among its many superlatives, Maryland is second in the nation in the percentage of African American-owned firms as a share of all firms, is first in the nation in the percentage of African American-owned firms with employees and seventh in the nation in the total number of African American-owned firms.

This month, we will honor and celebrate the achievements, big and small, of those great African American leaders.

by Christine Hansen for MDBizMedia

Maryland added 26,000 jobs in 2010, the first positive year since 2007, with computer systems design, healthcare and food services paving the way for job growth in the State. Maryland also ranked first in the nation in local government growth.

Experts say that Maryland’s job growth has been well balanced, indicating that diverse economic sectors are climbing out of the recession, and the State is not dependent on one sector to do all of the pulling. Seven of the 13 economic sectors added jobs in 2010. Experts also saw a revival of job growth in construction and retail trade – two sectors that saw deep and continuing losses during the 2007 recession.

“One of the big factors in the downturn across the country has been the housing market.  What we are seeing in Maryland is that the housing market seems to be in better shape than a lot of areas in the country, particularly in the Washington region,” said Nancy McCrea, Director of Economic Research at the Department of Business and Economic Development said.  “That bodes well for Maryland coming out of the recession.”

“Some of the other areas where we are seeing positive signs are the stock market in Maryland – the Maryland index is now over 300 – it’s above where it was a year ago, but still below pre-recession levels but it is moving in that direction,” she said.  “We are also consistently seeing strong traffic into and out of BWI, and strong retail activity in the State as well.”

Governor O’Malley’s Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit also helped spur job growth in the State. In nine months, over 1500 unemployed Marylanders have been put back to work. To date, Maryland employers taking advantage of the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit have saved a total of $7,785,000. Employers are still able to take advantage of the tax credit if they made a hire from the unemployment rolls on or before December 31, 2010.