Archives For Maryland Living

Ever wonder which states are considered the richest or poorest? According to a new report, Maryland is considered one of the top.

A new study by WalletHub.com – a social media company aimed at encouraging customers to make smarter financial decisions – has ranked Maryland as the third wealthiest state. Overall, Washington, DC and New Jersey tied for first place, while Connecticut tied for third.

WalletHub ranks 2014's richest and poorest states. Photo courtesy of WalletHub.

WalletHub ranks 2014′s richest and poorest states. Photo courtesy of WalletHub.

WalletHub researched three key statistics, taken from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to determine the rankings. In addition to ranking third wealthiest overall, Maryland placed first in “income,” 11th in “GDP per capita,” and 14th in “federal taxes paid per capita.”

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Cidalia Luis-Akbar and Natalia Luis, sisters and co-owners of Rockville-based M. Luis, announce their plans to scale Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit Children's National Medical Center.

Cidalia Luis-Akbar and Natalia Luis, sisters and co-owners of Rockville-based M. Luis, announce their plans to scale Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit Children’s National Medical Center.

The past 12 years have thrown a series of challenges in the path of Cidalia Luis-Akbar and Natalia Luis, sisters and co-owners of Rockville-based M. Luis, a regionally recognized asphalt manufacturer and construction services company.

In 2002, after five failed in-utero surgeries, Cidalia lost her first son. The family also found themselves steeped in hospital bills after they were unable to find appropriate care within their insurance network from a local facility. Cidalia would later battle and survive cancer before successfully giving birth to a daughter in 2009. While the family celebrated her birth, the financial crash brought a drastic decrease in demand for the company’s construction services. Against the odds, the company has survived and even thrived, though it continues to confront a lagging market.

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For more than 100 years, fruit and vegetable growers have turned to Pete Pappas & Sons for their repackaging and wholesaling needs. But when the company recently decided to move from Washington, D.C. to Maryland, it turned to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).

With DBED’s assistance, Pete Pappas & Sons found a new headquarters in Jessup, Maryland. To support the company’s move to Howard County, the State approved a $15,000 grant through the Partnership for Workforce Quality Program (PWQ). The grant will be used to train employees in food safety and equipment handling. Pete Pappas & Sons also plans to create 70 new jobs, DBED Secretary Dominick Murray announced Thursday.

“With DBED’s help, we have made a seamless transition from Washington, D.C. to Jessup,” said Gus Pappas, President of Pete Pappas & Sons. “Howard County will be a great location for our business—most of our customers are in the area and this will save time and gas on deliveries. The county has been a huge help to those of us new to the area.”

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The Maryland House Travel Plaza serves Interstate 95 travelers in Harford County.

The Maryland House Travel Plaza serves Interstate 95 travelers in Harford County.

Good news for the State’s tourism industry: More Marylanders are expected to hit the roads this weekend, AAA Mid-Atlantic announced Tuesday.

Nearly 728,000 Marylanders will travel at least 50 miles away from home this Labor Day holiday, AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates. That is a 1.2 percent increase from 2013 and the third-highest travel volume on record for the Labor Day holiday.

According to Ragina Cooper-Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, the projected traffic increase reflects “Marylanders’ enthusiasm for travel.”

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The Maryland State Arts Council has awarded nearly $13.4 million in grant awards to 287 local arts organizations and arts councils.

The Maryland State Arts Council has awarded nearly $13.4 million in grant awards to 287 local arts organizations and arts councils.

Nonprofit arts organizations and programs bring creativity, color and character to dozens of Maryland communities. Governor Martin O’Malley, this week, demonstrated the State’s commitment to these resources, announcing nearly $13.4 million in Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) grant awards.

“The arts are at the very center of community life for so many Marylanders, whether it be in our schools, museums, churches, or at festivals, concerts and exhibits,” Governor O’Malley said. “The livelihood of our arts organizations is critical to the quality of life we enjoy, and an economy strengthened by 12,700 jobs and an impact of $1 billion annually.”

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As you plan your summer bucket list, be sure to reserve some time in September for celebrating our nation’s history.

The Star-Spangled Spectacular—including dozens of events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem and the conclusion of the War of 1812—will culminate Sept. 10-16.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime patriotic event. Start planning now because you won’t want to miss this,” said Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, a cultural tourism and educational initiative created by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2007.

According to Pencek, hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock to Baltimore City and elsewhere throughout the State. At the height of the celebration, visitors will find continuous entertainment from Fort McHenry to the Inner Harbor to Fells Point to Canton, with biking and walking accommodations connecting the festivities.

Among the must-see events are the daytime Star-Spangled Air Shows, Sept. 13-14, performed by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. The shows will be free and open to the public. Tall ships and U.S. Navy gray hulls will dock at the Inner Harbor and provide tours Sept. 10-16. On Sept. 13, a star-studded patriotic concert, produced by Dick Clark Productions and nationally televised as part of PBS’s Great Performances series, will proceed the largest fireworks and light show in Baltimore’s history.

The fireworks and light show will be produced by Fireworks by Grucci, which has presented some of the world’s largest fireworks displays, from multiple Olympic ceremonies to seven consecutive presidential inaugurations. Pencek said he expects the show to be, “a record-setting jaw-dropping spectacle.”

A full schedule of events is available online here.

Aside from celebrating Baltimore’s national heritage, the events will create a significant economic impact for the State.

The Star-Spangled Sailabration in 2012, which focused primarily on the arrival of tall ships to the Inner Harbor and commemorated the first year of the War of 1812, brought 1.54 million visitors to Baltimore City with an economic impact of $166.1 million. With higher profile festival elements than the Star-Spangled Sailabration, the Star-Spangled Spectacular is expected to bring an even larger economic impact, Pencek said.

Pencek urges the public to follow the Star-Spangled Spectacular’s social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for event details as they become available throughout the summer.

The 139th Preakness will return this weekend.

The 139th Preakness will return this weekend.

Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome may steal the show this Preakness, but hundreds of Maryland businesses also have a stake in the race.

Researchers at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development found that the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes in 2013 generated significant economic impact for the State.

According to the Maryland DBED report:

  • A crowd of 117,203 enjoyed the 138th running of the Preakness at historic Pimlico Race Course.
  • Preakness day wagering reached $82,195,812 on the entire racing card, with $6,519,636 bet in-state.
  • Raceday operations generated direct expenditures of $7.8 million and 112 full-time equivalent jobs. (Table 1).
  • Visitors to the Preakness and Preakness Celebration spent an estimated $9.8 million which supports 149 full-time equivalent jobs (Table 2).
  • Including indirect impacts (multiplier effect), total Preakness-related expenditures totaled $29.7 million. 
  • In all, Preakness visitors and operations generated 351 full-time equivalent jobs and $10.6 million in salaries. 
  • The total expenditures and employment from Preakness race day operations and visitor spending generated approximately $2.1. 

The report emphasizes that beyond ticket sales, hotel stays and meals, Preakness sheds a positive light on the State’s overall economy, attracting not only tourists, but potentially new businesses.

With a sunny weather forecast, a Kentucky Derby winner in the race and Grammy Award-winning Lorde headlining the InfieldFest, Preakness attendance could reach a record high. The Baltimore Sun reports that ticket sales for Saturday’s race, concert and other festivities, are already running ahead of last year’s race.

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Gov. Martin O’Malley presented on Tuesday $765,000 in matching grants to fourteen Maryland nonprofit and government entities in support of fifteen War of 1812 bicentennial projects.

“The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake and the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner are important chapters in our history as a state and as a nation,” said Gov. O’Malley. “I want to thank the grant recipient organizations for their commitment to telling this story and using these funds to invest in community revitalization, tourism development and job growth in Maryland.”

Star-Spangled 200 grantees celebrate Maryland Day at the State House.

Governor O’Malley and Star-Spangled 200 grantees celebrate Maryland Day at the State House.

The grants, supplemented by more than $2.5 million in matching funds, will support capital improvement, visitor experience, programming and education projects that expand economic development and tourism-related job creation throughout the State.

“From the kick off to this year’s Chesapeake Campaign in St. Mary’s County to the Bicentennial Living American Flag with 6,700 school children at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, these grants will bring the bicentennial to life in 2014,” said Bill Pencek, executive director, Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

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If you find yourself sitting in front of the television (or computer or tablet) this Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone.

While Netflix doesn’t reveal the ratings of its home-grown series, millions are expected to tune in to the release of the second season of “House of Cards” on Feb. 14. Available only through the subscription-based Internet streaming service, the second season has already garnered positive reviews from critics. The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik called it “the greatest TV drama not on television.”

The Emmy Award-winning political thriller stars Kevin Spacey as a ruthless politician. And while the backdrop is portrayed as Washington, D.C., nearly all of the filming was done in Maryland.

Producers took advantage of state film tax credits, as well as Maryland film production talent and resources.

According to Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, during the first season of “House of Cards,” producers hired 2,198 crew, cast and extras, and purchased or rented goods or services from over 1,800 Maryland businesses. Among these businesses were small independently-owned companies, including Furst Bros., that provided picture frames on the set; Meadow Mill Draperies, which constructed window treatments in multiple scenes; and Cornerstone Antiques, which supplied antique furniture.

“The work of Maryland’s talented film industry professionals, both behind, and in front of the camera, as well as Maryland locations, will be showcased when Netflix releases the second season of the groundbreaking ‘House of Cards,’” Gerbes said.

Book your hotel stay in Ocean City. Take the family camping at Deep Creek. Go shopping around the Inner Harbor.

Whether you realize it or not, your weekend getaways and sightseeing tours have a big impact on Maryland’s economy.

A new report, released Wednesday by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, an arm of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, shows that investment in the state’s tourism industry is resulting in significant growth.

According to the Fiscal Year 2013 Tourism Development Annual Report and Maryland tourism officials:

  • Maryland welcomed 35.4 million domestic visitors in 2012, up 2.9 percent from 2011.
  • Maryland tourists and travelers spent $14.9 billion on travel expenses in 2012, including local transportation, food and beverage, lodging, retail, air travel and entertainment.
  • Spending by visitors grew by 4.6 percent in 2012, and has grown more than 4 percent in each of the past three years.
  • The state’s tourism industry directly employed more than 135,000 Marylanders in 2012, with a payroll of $4.5 billion.
  • Visitation in 2012 was 30 percent greater than in 2007, when the state counted 27.2 million visitors. This growth was more than triple the national average increase in state visitors, 9.2 percent, over the same five-year period.
  • Every $1 spent in advertising by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development returns $160 dollars in visitor spending, more than $22 in state and local revenue and nearly $5 in state sales tax revenue.
  • The Maryland Comptroller’s office calculates that sales tax revenue from tourism spending generated $381.4 million in Fiscal Year 2013, up 1 percent from Fiscal Year 2012. Sales tax revenue from tourism has grown 31.4 percent since 2007.

Find the full report and findings here.

Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, explained her team’s growth strategy.

“For the past several years, we have focused our marketing efforts on the key feeder markets of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore, including year-round communication through digital and traditional media, as well as consumer research to crystalize key messaging,” Amelia said in a statement.

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray lauded the tourism industry’s growth and its positive impact on jobs.

“Tourism has been and continues to be a powerful economic engine for Maryland,” Murray said in a statement. “More than 135,000 Marylanders were directly employed in the tourism industry in 2012, with a payroll of $4.5 billion. And the tourism industry not only creates and sustains jobs, it generates substantial tax revenue and business income.”

Smith Island Baking Company famously makes Maryland’s official state dessert.

Sweets are a ubiquitous part of the holiday season. And while national brand candies, cakes and breads are buying up the airwaves, don’t forget about the Maryland-made treats produced closer to home.

Now is an ideal time to support local businesses, cross off your gift list, and, of course, satisfy your sweet tooth.

Below are 10 examples of in-state treat-makers. Did we miss your favorite? Share a link to their business on our Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Facebook page.

  • An old bake sale favorite, the sweet and sticky Rice Krispies Treat, is taken to a whole new level by Rosedale-based dessert cafe The Mallow Bar. Offerings range from a CaraMallow Crunchie to a homemade vanilla marshmallow soaked in Belgian Chocolate Brandy sauce.
  • Whether you’re opting for a pound of Vanilla Nut Creamy Fudge or an assortment of Christmas Lollipals, Baltimore-based Wockenfuss has been a major Maryland presence since 1915.
  • Dubbed by Buzzfeed, a dessert that will make your mouth water, Maryland’s most famous cake includes 10 layers of neatly stacked cake and frosting.  Smith Island Baking Company offers eight flavor variations beyond the traditional yellow cake and chocolate combo.
  • If you’re craving a taste of summer amid the wintry weather, consider Ocean City-based Candy Kitchen. A bucket of their soft salt-water taffy—in fruity, nutty or spicy flavors—is sure to bring your mouth back to the boardwalk.
  • Sweet Cascades takes state pride very seriously at their Ellicott City-based shop, finding sweet ways to incorporate even savory Maryland traditions. Chocolate Crabs and Crab Sugar Cookies are kicked up with Old Bay seasoning.
  • Bergers Cookies in Baltimore has famously piled thick chocolaty fudge over sugar cookies since 1835. In honor of the season, the company is packaging up the cookies in festive tins.
  • A rising star in Maryland’s food scene, Dangerously Delicious Baltimore is building a reputation for its unique gourmet homemade pies, from its Baltimore Bomb to the Mobtown Brown.
  • For a traditional Christmas dessert, complete with homemade sugar ornaments and powdered sugar “snow,” Gaithersburg-based Classic Bakery is again offering its famous Christmas Yule Logs.
  • Spring Mill Bread Company is so picky about the flour they use, they mill it themselves. From gingerbread boys to cinnamon rolls, holiday baked goods abound at their shops in Bethesda, Gaithersburg and on Capitol Hill.
  • Check with your nearest Maryland dairy farm for creamy homemade egg nog. For a limited time, South Mountain Creamery in Middletown is boasting freshly made (corn syrup-free) jugs of egg nog in quart and half-gallon sizes.

Prepare to be bombarded by Black Friday sales, a longtime trademark of American big box stores, boasting door buster prices for TVs, clothing and everything in between.

At the same time, amid national retailer fanfare, advocates of small businesses are urging shoppers not to overlook deals and gift ideas in their own neighborhoods.

The local movement is gaining national traction with American Express-sponsored Small Business Saturday promotions and local business databases. The U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as chambers of commerce and business associations across Maryland, are encouraging participation in Small Business Saturday and other shop local initiatives.

But what types of gifts are available locally? Options abound, according to Sean McEvoy, director of small business resources for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

A gift certificate to an independent hair cutter, nail salon or cleaning service, farm-fresh gourmet cheese, wine from a local vineyard, beer from a local brewery, a handmade decoration from an area artisan, custom tailored clothing—all make thoughtful presents for loved ones. As an added benefit, buying small and local makes it easier personally interact with the maker, ask d. questions about the quality and learn about the process.

Options extend beyond traditional Main Street storefronts to include community members with online stores, flea market booths and farm stands. The important distinction about shopping local is how the company’s profits are managed, McEvoy said.

“Once that money is made, it’s going back into the community. Instead of the money being dragged out of the economy and sent back to headquarters somewhere else, it’s a powerful thing for that money to be reinvested back into the community. The goal is for these businesses is to grow and employ more local people,” he said.

Small businesses play an especially important role in Maryland’s economic growth, McEvoy said.

The most recent SBA data, from 2010, shows that 97.5 percent of all employers in Maryland are small businesses. Small businesses employ just over half of the state’s private-sector labor force. Maryland housed a total of 529,743 small businesses in 2010, employing 1.1 million workers.

“The workforce of tomorrow and the future growth of companies really depends on the constant cultivation of small businesses. You never know when you’re going to have the next Under Armour in your backyard. A lot of these types of companies didn’t exist 10 years ago and look where they are now. A lot of them are acorns but they’re future oak trees,” McEvoy said.

According to Ackneil Muldrow, longtime Baltimore businessman and chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Small Business, buying small and local is really about “strengthening communities.”

“It’s very important for shoppers to support the brands and build confidence in the businesses in their communities. If they want more shopping diversity and higher quality, they need to come together and show support for entrepreneurs in their area,” Muldrow said.