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The second annual InvestMaryland Challenge is in full swing. If your business is in need of a jump start, check out this site for more information about the national business competition. The Challenge offers applicants free admission to networking events, social media promotion, scoring and feedback from judges, exposure to venture capital firms and angel investors and the chance to compete for more than $600,000 in prizes. Winners of the Life Sciences, IT, Cybersecurity and General Industry categories will each win $100,000 awards. Others will take home smaller grants, incubator space, consulting services and other cash and in-kind prizes. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Judges include a distinguished lineup of industry leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Meet a selection of judges below.

Meet The Judges:



Robb Doub joined New Markets Venture Partners in 2003. Robb is the lead administrative partner and serves as a board director for eCoast Sales Solutions and Appfluent Technology, and is lead partner or board observer for K2 Global, Kroll Bond Ratings, Navtrak, Three Stage Media, CSA Medical and TidalTV. He also serves on the board of Egeen International and the Conflicts Advisory Board of the off-shore hedge funds.


Daphne Dufresne joined RLJ Equity Partners from Parish Capital Advisors, where she was a Venture Partner managing the direct investment and co-investment program. Formerly, Ms. Dufresne was a Principal at Weston Presidio Capital with $3.4 billion of assets under management. She also served as Associate Director in the Bank of Scotland’s Structured Finance Group. Ms. Dufresne received her B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Christy Williams Wyskiel is an entrepreneur and investor with 20 years of experience focused on the life sciences and healthcare industries. Previously, Christy was Managing Director at Maverick Capital, an equity hedge fund with $12 billion under management. She co-founded GrayBug, an ophthalmic drug-delivery company. In 2012, Christy joined the Johns Hopkins Alliance, a board charged with evaluating the commercial viability of research projects at JHU.


Frederick J. Ferrer has over three decades of experience in the National Security, Intelligence Community (IC), Homeland Defense and Cyber. Mr. Ferrer holds a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and serves in a number of leadership capacities, including the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence; National STEM Consortium Advisory Committee; and Chesapeake Regional Tech Council.


As the Executive Director and President of the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore, Ms. Tillett is responsible for management of budgetary, administrative, programmatic functions and strategic planning. Prior to joining ETC, Ms. Tillett served as president and co-founder of Immersive 3D, LLC, a technology start-up providing web-based 3D computer gaming solutions for K-20 education and offering contract-based technology services.

See the full list of judges and submit your application on

Maryland government agencies have a history of funding worker training projects, but never before has training been made so widely available across an entire industry.

Under the direction of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) Maryland Workforce Training Initiative is now offering an unprecedented opportunity for business leaders to form partnerships and offer the type of training needed to significantly increase worker productivity.

The first step is filling out an EARN Maryland Planning Grant application, which first became available on Oct. 15 and must be submitted by Nov. 12, 2013. Lead applicants will apply for $25,000 to fund the creation of a Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plan. There is no limit to the number of these grants the state will issue.

Between November 2013 and April 2014, the funding will assist the lead applicant in forming a partnership with fellow key players in their industry. Many will take advantage of professional membership organizations that already join business leaders together according to their shared interests. Through conferences, meetings and training sessions, they will determine the type of training needed most among workers in their industry and submit their requests for training programs.

By May 2014, DLLR will award implementation grants for approved Strategic Industry Partnership Workforce Training Plans.

The lead applicant for the initial $25,000 planning grant can fall into any of the following categories:

• Employer
• Nonprofit organization
• Two- and four-year institution of higher education
• Local Workforce Board
• Industry association
• Labor union
• Local government
• Local or regional economic development entity

While the initiative is the first of its kind in Maryland, similar programs have succeeded in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and have already assisted workers in industries including aerospace, healthcare and clean energy. More information on their best practices is available through DLLR.

Those seeking more information should consider watching webinars on the program through DLLR’s website or attending a statewide Pre-Proposal Conference at 1 p.m. on October 18 at the Anne Arundel Community College, Robert E. Kauffman Theater, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012.

Baltimore, MD (June 27, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that the State, through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), has approved a $150,000 grant to the City of Hagerstown to fund the Hagerstown Revolving Loan Fund (HRLF). Hagerstown is actively pursuing opportunities to attract and retain businesses with a particular emphasis on business prospects for vacant buildings and redevelopment areas including the former Unilever plant, the former Cascade building, the Harrison Land Tracts, East End Redevelopment, and downtown redevelopment. As part of a One Maryland jurisdiction, the City of Hagerstown will provide $75,000 in matching funds.

“The State is pleased to support the City of Hagerstown’s Revolving Loan Fund, which is a critical tool to help create and retain jobs,” said Governor O’Malley. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in Hagerstown to spur development and provide the resources needed for businesses to grow and thrive.”

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McCormick spices

Maryland-based McCormick is rapidly expanding internationally.

For Marylanders, the name McCormick calls to mind any number of flavors and aromas. The Sparks-based company, founded in 1889, develops hundreds of spices and seasonings, including Baltimore’s iconic Old Bay.

But as the company has continued to expand into international markets, net income and revenue have risen, causing major gains for stockholders, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

McCormick CEO Alan D. Wilson addressed stockholders on Wednesday to discuss the company’s growth.

According to the BBJ:

By 2015, about 20 percent of its sales will come from emerging markets, Wilson said. That would up from 10 percent in 2011. To accommodate that growth, McCormick has been ramping up production and sales in foreign countries. It doubled capacity at a manufacturing plant in Guangzhou, China that makes catsup and other condiments for fast-food restaurants in the country. In August, McCormick announced a deal to buy Wuhan Asia-Pacific Condiments, a Chinese maker of bouillon for $141 million.

Find the full article here.

Mary Sue Easter Egg

Baltimore-based candy maker Mary Sue produced a whole lot of chocolate eggs in 2013.

Mary Sue Easter Eggs have filled Easter baskets across Maryland since 1948, but recently their reach has extended farther than ever.

Baltimore-based production for the chocolate-covered creams will total between 3 and 5 million this spring (an exact count for 2013 has not yet been completed), according to Mike Weiss, chief financial officer of Mary Sue Candies.

“If it’s not the most we’ve ever made, it’s certainly getting close to it,” said Weiss, who has worked with the company for the past 11 years.

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Photo of hops

A growing number of Maryland farmers are producing hops. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Frederick-based Flying Dog Brewery recently opened its doors to the local producers of an essential beer flavoring ingredient—hops.

The micro-brewery hosted the first University of Maryland Extension and Maryland Chapter of Northeast Hop Alliance Hops Conference, signaling significant growth in the local hops industry, the Frederick News-Post reported.

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Premier Rides

Baltimore-based Premier Rides is taking its services to Hong Kong.

At least one Baltimore-based engineering firm specializes in making people scream. In fact, their international reputation recently won them a major contract in Hong Kong.

Premier Rides—which designs, supplies and maintains roller coasters, observation wheels, towers, water rides and other custom attractions—has been selected to provide technical services and support for multiple rides at Ocean Park Hong Kong.

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New Grand Prix of Baltimore logo

The Grand Prix of Baltimore is a “Celebration of Acceleration.”

Less than seven months before city streets are transformed into a 12-turn, two-mile IndyCar racetrack, Grand Prix of Baltimore planners are drumming up excitement with a new logo and tagline.

The former “Festival of Speed” will now be known as a “Celebration of Acceleration.” The new tagline is accompanied by an enhanced website and social media presence, as well as a new logo with “cleaner graphic
elements for improved legibility and reproduction,” race planners announced this week in a statement.

“We’re pleased to introduce a new look and feel for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT,” stated Debbie Bell, vice president of sales and marketing for Race On, which is promoting the event. “Our Celebration of Acceleration tagline perfectly captures the spirit of the event, and our redesigned website is the ideal platform to keep fans up to speed on Grand Prix details as they are announced.”

The third annual race is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

“Our focus is pulling any players that are currently leaving the state to play table games, going to Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey … That’s the intent, to bring new business.”

Hollywood Casino spokeswoman Jennifer Miglionico on Maryland’s gambling industry

CarFare Compare is an InvestMaryland Challenge finalist.

CarFare Compare is an InvestMaryland Challenge finalist.

Check back for Q&A profiles on all the competition finalists.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge is down to its final round with just 33 companies competing for more than $300,000 in grants and business services. The final winners will be announced during the Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony on April 15.

One of the companies, selected out of more than 250 applicants, is Annapolis-based CarFare Compare. To find out a little more about this new company, we spoke with president and founder Alan Stapleton.

Q. What does CarFare Compare do, and how would you explain it to the average person?

A. We have a smart phone app that people can download and use to order a chauffeured service to come pick them up, either immediately or a month from now, whether you’re planning a wedding or going out of town or something else like that.

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Compass is an application of Middle River-based company Woofound.

Compass is an application of Middle River-based company Woofound.

Check back for Q&A profiles on all the competition finalists.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge is down to its final round with just 33 companies competing for more than $300,000 in grants and business services. The final winners will be announced during the Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony on April 15.

One of the companies, selected out of more than 250 applicants, is Middle River-based Woofound. To find out a little more about this growing company, founded in 2011, we spoke with CEO Dan Sines.

Q. What does Woofound do, and how would you explain it to the average person?

A. It is a visual personality tool. We have created a way for learning about a person’s personality and preferences through what we call a slider. It learns about a person’s personality by showing them images and they simply click “me” or “not me” under those images, building a complex profile of that person, their interests and personality types. We have two applications currently using that core technology. One of the neat things about Woofound is that we’re a personality platform. There are a lot of applications that can be built off of it. Our core application for the iPhone is called Explore and that matches people to places, activities and things to do. A much different use of the same product matches people with career paths, based on their personality preferences, so you can see a very diversified use of the core technology of visual personality matching. Continue Reading…

The Baltimore Business Journal reports this morning The Colonial Athletic Association will move its men’s basketball tournament from Richmond to Baltimore starting in 2014.

A group led by Towson University Athletic Director Mike Waddell, as well as leaders from the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, Visit Baltimore, First Mariner Arena, first made their pitch to bring the CAA men’s basketball tournament to 14,000-seat First Mariner Arena in May. The group made a follow-up presentation to the athletic directors of the 11-member conference on Oct. 15

Ron Bertovich, the CAA’s deputy commissioner for basketball, said at the time the conference was impressed with the city’s pitch.

“They are pros and they are passionate,” he said. “And that’s what you would like to see from everyone.”

The full story is here on the BBJ website.

Also: Read the official release on the CAA Tournament move.

Basketball image by flickr user Gonzalo Andrés. Licensed under Creative Commons. Thanks!