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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.

Executive Director of the Regional Economic and Studies Institute Dr. Daraius Irani shared his economic outlook.

Executive Director of the Regional Economic and Studies Institute Dr. Daraius Irani shared his economic outlook.

With a projected increase in holiday shopping and a recovering housing market, Maryland’s economic outlook has multiple positive highlights, according to Regional Economic Studies Institute Executive Director Dr. Daraius Irani.

Irani presented RESI’s findings during the 2013 Economic Outlook Conference, the organization’s premier event, held at Towson University last week.

Maryland reached a milestone in August, regaining 100 percent of the jobs lost during the recession—one of only 16 states to do so. Over the last year, statewide employment expanded 1.7 percent, the largest year-over-year growth rate since the start of the economic downturn five years ago. The professional and business services industry added 16,300 jobs to the economy over the last year, making it the state’s largest employment contributor, according to RESI.

Irani praised recent developments, including the planned Amazon facility in Southeast Baltimore, expected to create more than 1,000 full-time jobs, with wages at up to 30 percent more than the average retail job. “Not all of the jobs we create in our economy should require a Ph.D. or a masters degree. This presents some opportunities across the economic spectrum, as well as an excellent tuition reimbursement program to help workers pursue higher education,” he said.

Irani described the state’s housing market as “generally upbeat,” with home prices increasing by about $16,000 since the last year. Maryland building permits, which represent new construction, rose 12.9 percent between July and August, up 9.3 percent from the previous year.

He emphasized that recovery is ongoing nationally and at the state level and that overall consumer confidence historically remains low. He attributes much of the “lurch” in consumer confidence to party gridlock in Congress and the recent shutdown of the federal government. Still, RESI projects an increase in national holiday retail sales by 4 percent this year, welcome news for Maryland businesses that depend on a boost between November and December.

Irani light-heartedly added, “I encourage you all to go out and shop.”

Find a video of the presentation with additional data below:

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray presents a proclamation during MEDA's fall conference.

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray presents a proclamation during MEDA’s fall conference.

Looking to boost your community’s economy? Consider sprucing up the town’s welcome sign, organizing an outdoor farmers market or printing T-shirts with the town name on them.

These actions and more, shared during Tuesday’s Maryland Economic Development Association fall conference in Frederick, may not directly translate into new jobs, but the sense of place they create will help deliver sustainable long-term growth. Experts—ranging from a innovative mixed-use land developer to a social branding consultant—spoke on the importance of improving place to attract higher skilled workers, foster entrepreneurship and increase an area’s overall quality of life.

“Why would anyone invest in a city that doesn’t want to invest in itself?” asked keynote speaker Ed McMahon, Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute.

McMahon discussed the importance of basic aesthetics. “Every single day in America, people make decisions about where to live, where to work, where to retire, based almost entirely on what communities look like,” he said.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement said he hoped the backdrop of his city would help inspire fellow community leaders to devote resources to place making.

Developing Frederick’s unique character has been a conscious ongoing effort for the city, which boasts a growing selection of restaurants, outdoor markets and festivals, following a sort of “Mayberry theme,” McClement said.

“You’ve got to find that niche, that thing people would want to come see, whether it’s that hometown charm we have here in Frederick, or maybe the excitement of more urban aspects. You need to find what’s good for you, but we can share the example of building on what you have,” he said.

Keasha Haythe, vice president of MEDA and Director of Economic Development of Dorchester City, said she hoped the conference would inspire fellow MEDA members to improve the perception of their own communities.

“Creating a sense of place is extremely important to economic development because that is what the residents and the business community draw on. That’s how they attract new investment,” Haythe said.

She praised MEDA for providing a platform to spread innovative ideas within the state’s business leadership community. “Events like this bring all the players together, the right policy makers and panelists and business leaders. Today was truly a great conference and we had a great turnout,” she said.

On behalf of Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray presented a proclamation to MEDA, recognizing its support of Maryland’s third annual Economic Development Week.

“It’s such a pleasure to work with all of you as a team—we’ve got a tremendous team. All of us are dedicated to doing things that make Maryland a better place to live and work, it’s my honor and privilege to work with all of you,” Murray said.

A panel of experts discuss creating a sense of place  to promote growth in communities.

A panel of experts discuss creating a sense of place to promote growth in communities.

The longtime mantra of realtors, “location, location, location,” applies just as much to a community’s overall economic development, experts agreed during the Maryland Economic Development Association’s fall conference.

The conference, held Tuesday in Frederick and sponsored by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, made the case for “place making” as a tool for improving the social perceptions of a region’s assets.

So, how does that elusive sense of place impact economic development? Here are 10 takeaways from the conference’s expert lineup.

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Tiffany Rogers is founder and creative director of Silver Spring-based knot by TIFFA.

Tiffany Rogers is founder and creative director of Silver Spring-based knot by TIFFA. Photo credit: Rebecca Hussey of Ampersander Studios

When Tiffany Rogers looks at a piece of clothing or accessory, she sees much more than fabric and thread. She thinks about the fiber farmer, the factory worker and the environment surrounding them. Rogers is a fashion designer-turned-entrepreneur with a conscience, and it’s shaping the way she builds her Maryland business.

Rogers—founder and creative director of Silver Spring-based knot by TIFFA—didn’t originally intend to become a men’s bow tie maker. After graduating from the University of Delaware in apparel design, she found success as an intern, design assistant and assistant designer at Tracy Reese in New York. She was thrilled when First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of the prints she designed.

But Rogers found herself increasingly concerned about the moral issues facing apparel production. She returned to the University of Delaware to begin graduate work in fashion studies, social responsibility and sustainability. She also began working with associations in Washington, D.C. that consult major clothing companies on labor policies and regulations.

Around Christmas of 2010, in the midst of a major career change, she searched for a gift for a friend.

“I was looking for a bow tie for my friend Cory Thompson, but they didn’t seem special enough to be worth buying, so I decided to just make one,” Rogers said. “It was then I realized I had the potential to take bow ties to market.”

She and Thompson, who became the director of finance and sales, developed marketing and branding strategies that involved patterning the bow ties off musical styles. The knot by TIFFA e-commerce website launched in March 2011. Rogers began personally sewing each order out of her Silver Spring apartment.

“The bow ties are a fresh and contemporary twist to the traditional bow tie and they’re each inspired by a song. It really sets the tone for the collections. So as I’m going through all of the prints and patterns, I’m thinking about the music. Loud upbeat songs I pair with bright colors, so it really shines through,” Rogers said.

This June, knot by TIFFA launched its Summer Medley Carnivale collection, inspired by up-and-coming bands performing at the summer’s bacchanalian outdoor music festivals. They included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Haim, Alabama Shakes and the Avett Brothers.

On the website, colorful write-ups and excerpts of lyrics accompany each style. The “can’t hold us” bow tie is based on a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song of the same name. “This technicolor tribal print dusts off the assumption of a conservative bow tie and brings forward a struttin’ generation,” the website reads.

knot by TIFFA creates designer bowties.

knot by TIFFA creates designer bow ties. Photo credit: Rebecca Hussey of Ampersander Studios

In the fall, Rogers plans to release the Appalachian collection, focused on flannels and plaids, patterned on the music of Bronze Radio Return, Wild Child and other bands that embrace the fiddle, banjo and harmonica.

Twitter has allowed Rogers to connect directly with bands and forge creative partnerships. It has also led to increased sales among fashion-conscious music fans. ”I definitely suggest that other Maryland companies try their best to network and develop a social media presence,” she said.

“I just did a collection and photo shoot with the Wheeler Brothers, an up-and-coming band from Austin. They looked great in our bow ties. Band loyalty factors into the popularity of some of our collections. Fans see band members wearing them and it inspires them. It’s a unique selling process,” she added.

knot by TIFFA’s business model recently attracted the attention of national business news website Business Insider, which recently named it one of “16 Small Businesses On The Verge Of A Breakthrough.” D.C.-area and fashion blogs have also spotlighted the company.

Despite the recent increase in interest and sales, Rogers still sews each bow tie out of her apartment. She has also maintained her day job working with a non-profit to promote improved labor and environmental conditions in the garment production industry.

“I’m starting to grow out of being able to make them all myself,” she said.

Rogers hopes customers will someday find knot by TIFFA bow ties in high-end boutiques and department stores. But finding an apparel manufacturer for mass production can be a cumbersome and sometimes mysterious process. The lack of transparency can make it even easier for workers and the environment to be abused, according to Rogers.

When the time comes for knot by TIFFA to expand, she said she’s committed to meeting the highest standards of production, the same standards that she works everyday to promote among global brands like Nike and Adidas.

“I want to make sure that we have a responsible business model and that all of the factories in our supply chain have features that most importantly protect factory workers’ rights,” she said.

That means Rogers plans to keep production in Maryland, where workers enjoy high labor standards and wages. She said she’s felt welcomed by a like-minded business community as she’s recently reached out to Baltimore-area factories.

“One of the great things about Maryland is that Under Armour has settled in Baltimore and now you have a few apparel factories in Baltimore. Right now, they’re mostly making apparel specifically for Under Armour, but they can branch out and make different apparel types,” she said.

“In general, it’s been difficult for small fashion designers to fill a collection or a brand outside of New York or some other fashion capital. But that’s in the past now. You have so many more platforms to find fabric and trim suppliers and factories to make your product closer to home,” Rogers said.

knot by TIFFA creates designer bowties.

Photo credit: Rebecca Hussey of Ampersander Studios

knot by TIFFA creates designer bowties.

Photo credit: Rebecca Hussey of Ampersander Studios

With triple-digit heat indexes and high humidity, the National Weather Service calls the conditions across Maryland “dangerously hot” and urges residents to drink plenty of fluids. The heat advisory will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday.

So, where should you go to beat the heat? County governments are issuing their own recommendations and listings, including public libraries, senior centers and other community centers.

Additionally, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggested visiting a local shopping mall.

Representatives from several of the state’s major shopping malls said they’re welcoming community members to enjoy their air conditioning, public bathrooms and water fountains. They recommend that customers check out their Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter to keep up with special events and promotions during the heat wave.

A representative of The Gallery shopping mall at the Inner Harbor said passersby can take a seat inside the mall to cool off and stay for a smoothie or iced coffee at Starbucks. Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, also confirmed that they’re happily offering locals and tourists respite from the heat.

Corrine Barchanowicz, marketing director for Westfield Annapolis, Maryland’s largest shopping mall, said she’s noticed an uptick in shoppers since the start of the heat wave.

“It’s an air conditioned climate, so you get the cool relief. There are services like the cinema, where shoppers can stay entertained and relaxed. We also have a great selection of food offerings like ice cream and frozen yogurt that people like to indulge in when it’s hot. Obviously, there is a lot to see and enjoy, including plenty of shopping. Malls are a great public space,” Barchanowicz said.

Find a list of some of Maryland’s most popular shopping malls here from also lists over two dozen Maryland shopping malls by number of stores.

Where are some of your favorite Maryland shopping centers to cool down? Tell us in the comments.



Baltimore, MD (July 3, 2013) – The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development has made a $100,000 grant to support a mixed-use revitalization project by Seawall Development in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood, Governor Martin O’Malley announced today. Using the grant made through the Brownfield Revitalization Incentive Program, Seawall will outfit a 21,770-square-foot building at 2600 North Howard with commercial space, a performance venue and a butcher shop and restaurant by Spike Gjerde, the celebrated chef and restaurateur behind Woodberry Kitchen and Artifact Coffee. The $3.8 million project is expected to be completed in December and will create 75 jobs over the next two years.

“Investing in communities like Remington is a sustainable and effective way to revitalize Maryland’s historic neighborhoods and support the arts that enrich Maryland’s culture,” said Governor O’Malley. “The redevelopment of 2600 North Howard will create jobs, serve as an anchor for future revitalization and development in Remington, and expand the thriving Station North Arts & Entertainment District.”

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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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Governor Martin O’Malley announced that Media Rights Capital started filming the second season of the Netflix series House of Cards in Maryland.

“We are pleased that House of Cards, a critically-acclaimed and ground-breaking series has returned to Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “Season One had an economic impact of more than $140 million and provided jobs for more than 2,200 Marylanders. Together with our leaders in the General Assembly, we’ve expanded the Film Production Tax Credit, and as we welcome the cast and crew back, we also look forward to more job creation and economic opportunity to come.”

Find more information from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development here.

Learn more about the economic impact of the Film Production Tax Credit here.

Using funds from a portion of Maryland’s slot machine revenue, three investment and financial firms will distribute loans for small, minority and women-owned businesses, the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development announced Wednesday.

The Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Account receives 1.5 percent of video lottery terminal revenue from Maryland’s three casinos. The Board of Public Works recently approved the following investment and financial firms to distribute up to $7.86 million in loans from that account, beginning on May 1.

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3D Printed InvestMaryland Challenge Awards

Resting on pillars during the culmination of the InvestMaryland Challenge were three ivory-colored grand prize awards, swirling upward like the leaves of a springtime perennial and topped with the symbols of each winning company’s industry.

While the awards went to a trio of Maryland’s most innovative early-stage businesses, the awards’ creators, Jessica Searfino and Amanda Paunil, likewise felt honored to see their designs showcased at the event.

Both women are Towson University students studying interdisciplinary object design, and they created the awards out of plaster using the university’s 3D printing lab.

See additional photos of the printing process below. 

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Preakness Maryland

Preakness, a horse racing Maryland tradition, will return May 2013.

The Pimlico Race Course plans to expand its Preakness celebration this May with new food, drink and entertainment options. But organizers are also hoping to draw crowds throughout the remaining horse racing season, the Baltimore Sun reports.

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