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For three consecutive years, Maryland has been named No. 1 in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Additional indicators—including job growth and increased exports—also help tell the story of economic development throughout the State.

meda 2014

DBED Secretary Dominick Murray kicks off Maryland Economic Development Week.

But these achievements didn’t happen by accident. Maryland’s economy is growing with the help of hundreds of economic development officials and business leaders. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) celebrates the people and the programs that make it possible during Maryland Economic Development Week.

DBED Secretary Dominick Murray kicked off the celebration and presented a proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley during the Maryland Economic Development Association’s (MEDA) Fall Conference on Monday.

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The Caroline Industrial Park is one of five in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore.

The Caroline Industrial Park is located in Federalsburg.

Federalsburg, a history-rich small town in the southern-most portion of Caroline County, is partnering with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) to create an economic development plan focused on community revitalization.

DBED announced on Thursday that it has approved a $50,000 conditional grant for the town’s development of the Federalsburg Strategic Development Plan (FSDP). The Community Development Block Grant Program, which is administered by DBED and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is providing the funding. The town is also contributing $10,000 toward costs and administration.

“This Strategic Development Plan grant is a tremendous opportunity for Federalsburg to take control of its future possibilities and to drive the town forward in the 21st century,” George Mayer, Grants Administrator for the Town of Federalsburg, said in a statement. “This grant allows Federalsburg to plan its future by combining sustainable community goals and a focus on key areas to bring Federalsburg a desired future as a small, thriving rural community.”

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Mike Adelstein, CEO of Potomac Photonics, discusses his collaborative business model.

Mike Adelstein, CEO of Potomac Photonics, discusses his collaborative business model.

Mike Adelstein, CEO of Potomac Photonics, measures his projects by the micrometre, a unit 1,000 times smaller than a meter. The tiny holes, channels and mechanical gears created by Potomac Photonics are often no bigger than a pinprick and custom made for clients from Baltimore to Japan. The company’s business model relies heavily on collaboration and partnerships involving government and academia. From the company’s new facility at bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, it has begun offering free and discounted services throughout Maryland’s manufacturing community.

MDBIZ News spoke recently with Adelstein about his company and plans for growth.

Q. What does Potomac Photonics offer?

A. We’re a high-tech manufacturing company specializing in micro manufacturing, making small things and complex parts using a broad range of technologies, including laser micro machining, 3D printing, hot embossing and micro molding, among other services. We’re really a one-stop-shop. If there’s an engineer or company that wants something small, they can send us a digital drawing and we will then come up with a way to manufacturer it.

Things are getting smaller and we’re in a market right now that doesn’t show the slightest signs of diminishing. We have 20 employees now and we’re hiring.

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CCED Gold bars-red arrow verticalA new loan fund for Charles County small businesses will receive $500,000 in grants from State and county government, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced Monday.

DBED’s Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF) is providing a $250,000 grant to the Board of Charles County Commissioners to support the creation of a Targeted Industries Incentive Loan Fund (TIILF). The Charles County Department of Economic Development is providing a matching $250,000 to start up the loan fund.

Small businesses already established in Charles County and those planning to move to the county may apply to participate in the TIIL. Funds may be used toward research and development, technology, manufacturing, distribution, professional services, defense and federal contracting, biotechnology, information technology and upscale retail businesses.

“The State is pleased to partner with Charles County and support their new loan fund, which offers critical funding to businesses in many of our growing industries,” said DBED Secretary Dominick Murray. “This fund also helps the County to attract new businesses, enhancing their competitive position in the region.”

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Washington County, Maryland is a dynamic business location.

Washington County, Maryland is a dynamic business location.

New residents are flocking to Washington County in Western Maryland, which comes as no surprise to the county’s economic development team. The county boasts a prime location, incentive programs and diverse job opportunities.

At the intersection of Interstate 81 and Interstate 70, between West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the county has become a hub for economic activity. Hagerstown, the county seat, is roughly equidistant from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with easy access to several East Coast cities. It is dubbed the “Crossroads of the Mid-Atlantic.”

The Washington County, MD Department of Business Development has developed innovative tools for welcoming new businesses and streamlining regulations for existing industries. The county’s Fast Track Team has cut the waiting time for permits and approvals in half. The county also employs Project Liaisons who provide status updates on building projects and assist with design needs, permitting and funding. Additional financing, tax credit programs and worker training programs are detailed on the county’s website.

“We’ve taken a job-by-job approach with a focus on expanding economic development opportunities for our citizens,“ said Sarah Lankford Sprecher, Washington County assistant county administrator.

“Whether it’s through a partnership with the Maryland Small Business Development Center, a session with our in-house business consultant or a meeting with a Project Liaison—each interaction is personalized to help large and small organizations realize that opening or relocating in one of our great communities is the next step in growing their business,” Sprecher said.

Already, major brands, including Volvo, Baltimore Mack Trucks, National Golden Tissue, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Holcim call Washington County home.

The county prides itself on business retention efforts, including the Washington County Business Outreach Program. The Washington County Board of County Commissioners, elected local officials, various county and city staff and representatives from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development visit participating businesses, develop a relationship with the business owners and learn about their unique challenges and concerns.

Businesses of all industries and sizes may voluntarily participate in the program. Since its creation in 2012, nearly 80 local businesses, from apiaries to sheet metal manufacturers, have participated.

Through the program, representatives visited spiral staircase company Duvinage and helped the company discover ways to leverage funding and resources to purchase a competitor in Ohio. The company retained its 20 employees, added five additional positions and anticipates employing 60 workers by 2015. Program representatives helped another company, Hagerstown Kitchens, Inc., find a solution to a shortage of skilled labor through an internship program with Washington County Technical High School’s carpentry program.

Looking for more reasons to build your business in Maryland’s Washington County? Visit Washington County, MD Department of Business Development here.

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TreeHouse FoodsTreeHouse Foods, an Illinois-based food products and services provider, has acquired Protenergy Natural Foods, including its plant in Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced today. The $150 million acquisition comes with the promise of new investment, expansion and jobs. TreeHouse plans to invest $6 million in new equipment and upgrading the space, eventually creating 35 new jobs. “We are delighted to welcome Protenergy Natural Foods and its innovative capabilities in premium food and beverage to the TreeHouse family,” Sam K. Reed, Chairman, President and CEO of TreeHouse Foods said in a statement. DBED played a major role in Protenergy Natural Foods’ initial expansion and during the recent transition to TreeHouse Foods. In 2011, Canada-based Protenergy Natural Foods purchased the manufacturing assets of FoodSwing, Inc. in Cambridge, but planned to transport those assets to a facility in Indiana. With DBED’s encouragement, Protenergy Natural Foods instead chose to take advantage of the State’s strategic location and highly-skilled workforce. The company purchased the former FoodSwing, Inc. facility and settled in Maryland. Between 2011 and 2013, the Protenergy Natural Foods plant expanded production and tripled its workforce to 150 employees. To assist with the expansion, DBED approved a $1.5 million State-backed loan guarantee; a $8.5 million in Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority (MIDFA) issued Tax Exempt Bonds; and a $250,000 conditional loan though the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund (MEDAAF) program. The benefits of these investments will continue as TreeHouse Foods further upgrades the facility and hires more Marylanders, according to Secretary Dominick Murray of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “Protenergy has been an outstanding corporate partner and employer on the Eastern Shore, adding to the diversity and caliber of our manufacturing industry in Maryland,” Secretary Murray said. “We welcome TreeHouse Foods and look forward to working with them to add new jobs and grow in our State.”

Ocean City, Maryland

A family enjoys Ocean City, Maryland. Photo courtesy Ocean City, Maryland, Convention and Visitors Bureau and Department of Tourism.

Maryland’s popularity among visitors is growing rapidly, the Maryland Office of Tourism announced this week.

Domestic travelers to the State reached 36.1 million in 2013, a 2.2 percent increase since 2012. A dramatic 33.3 percent increase in visitors occurred between 2013 and 2007, when 27.2 million travelers visited the State, a national survey of U.S. travelers conducted by D.K. Shifflet and Associates showed.

Maryland outperformed national and regional averages and saw growth in all travel segments, including business, leisure, day trips and overnight visits. The State’s domestic travel market share increase by 13.3 percent since 2007, according to the survey.

Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism, said the increase demonstrates the success of her office’s strategic regional promotional efforts.

“We focused our tourism marketing efforts on key feeder markets beginning FY2008, and began to communicate year-round to prospective visitors. Recent image and awareness and advertising effectiveness studies ensure we promote our most motivating messages and that our purchased media generates high returns on investment,” Amelia said in a statement.

Increased visitors to the State are helping to fuel Maryland’s economy, according to Secretary Dominick Murray of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which oversees the tourism office.

“Our State’s tourism industry is a powerful economic engine,” Secretary Murray said. “Tourism is a major generator of jobs, employing more than 135,000 Marylanders. The impact of visitors proves that our investments in visitor experiences and tourism marketing provide valuable returns to tourism communities across the state from Oakland to Ocean City.”

Baltimore Development Corporation

Since its launch in 2012, the BaltimoreMICRO Revolving Loan Fund has issued 13 small business loans, representing a total of $285,000. The recipients, Baltimore City entrepreneurs who may not have access to traditional funding, receive necessary working capital for operations and purchases, including machinery and equipment.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has announced it will support the continuation of the fund through a $250,000 grant to the City of Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC). DBED previously contributed a $250,000 grant at the program’s launch.

The City of Baltimore, in the One Maryland Tax Credit program jurisdiction, is also contributing $125,000 in matching funds to the program.

“Small businesses are job creators,” BDC President and CEO Brenda McKenzie said in a statement. “BaltimoreMICRO aids in the development and expansion of small businesses, providing critical financing needed to support job creation and stabilization of existing employment opportunities in the City of Baltimore.”

“The State is pleased to continue to support BaltimoreMICRO, which is helping stimulate our economy, create and retain jobs and connect our small businesses with much-needed financing that they may not be able to access from traditional sources,” Maryland’s Secretary of Business and Economic Development Dominick Murray said in a statement. “We look forward to helping even more small businesses obtain the funding they need to grow and thrive.”



CytImmune is based in Rockville, Maryland.

Rockville-based CytImmune is working to revolutionize cancer treatment through tumor-targeted therapies. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and Montgomery County Department of Economic Development (DED), on Tuesday, announced their continued support for the company, resulting in a $400,000 total investment.

DBED, through its Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), led a financing round for the company, investing $200,000. DED and a corporate venture fund together invested an additional $200,000.  

“The MVF is a critical program which enables the development and commercialization of disruptive technologies like Aurimune,” Dr. Lawrence Tamarkin, CEO of CytImmune, said in a statement. “We believe this investment not only affirms the value of our product, but also demonstrates the state’s commitment to supporting Maryland-based companies bringing innovative products to market.”

“We are proud to make this investment in CytImmune as they pursue their novel and life-saving technology,” DBED Secretary Dominick Murray said in a statement. “Maryland is a global leader in innovation thanks in large part to entrepreneurs like those at CytImmune.  We are committed to supporting our businesses as they grow, thrive and create the sustainable, family-supporting jobs of today and tomorrow.”

The announcement marked the State’s second investment in CytImmune. DBED previously invested $500,000 for technological and pharmaceutical development of the company’s lead drug candidate, Aurimune. The drug is a targeted “Trojan Horse” nanotherapy which destroys the protective vascular barriers of tumors, exposing cancer cells to cancer cell killers and increasing the likelihood of curing cancer.

The Maryland Venture Fund is one of the State’s most valuable resources for growing companies. The MVF is made possible through one of Governor Martin O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives, InvestMaryland. The public-private partnership between the State and venture capital firms supports the growth of Maryland companies in biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce and other high-growth industries.

Learn more about the MVF and InvestMaryland through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development

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Baltimore’s Premier Rides has been selected by Halul Real Estate Development to design and build Dragonfire, the signature attraction for the new Adventure Island in the Doha Oasis Mall.  The highly-themed custom high-thrill indoor/outdoor dark ride launch roller coaster will be located in Doha, Qatar.

“Qatar is one of the most exciting places to be in the world right now,” said Jim Seay, President of Premier Rides. ”The development is unprecedented and combined with the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, there is a tremendous amount of energy in the country.  We are extremely honored to be part of what is happening there.  The magnitude of the Doha Oasis Mall project is quite stunning.  One has to be there to see and appreciate the amazing scale.”

International Theme Park Services Inc. (ITPS), based in Ohio, is the lead consultant on the $300 million Adventure Island where the signature dark ride launch coaster will be installed.  ITPS has consulted on and constructed more than 500 amusement parks in about 50 countries.

Dragonfire will be one of the largest and most sophisticated attractions ever built by Premier Rides, and will incorporate Premier’s award-winning technologies such as magnetic launches, high speed switches, and multi-directional movement of the vehicles.  Additionally the attraction features a backwards launch unlike any other where riders are shot up an extremely high vertical twisting spike that rises dramatically above the mall and is fully encapsulated to allow guests to take in the view and to appreciate just how high above the building they are while remaining in a climate-controlled environment.  

Seay commented, “Halul has brought together the theme park industry’s “best of the best” to design and manage the Mall’s entertainment element.  Premier’s engineers have worked with the ITPS design team for almost a year to create together a stunning attraction that complements the scale of the Mall and the desire for a world class attraction experience.”

“This is one of the largest, most complex, complicated projects we’ve ever worked on,” Dennis Speigel, President of ITPS shared. “It will be a seven-acre indoor theme park along the lines of a Mall of America. It’s all state-of-the-art equipment, the latest and greatest.”

“The entertainment component of the complex will be first class,” stated Hasan Abu Rub, Project Director for Halul Real Estate Investment Company.  “We wanted a signature ride that would have a global impact and we are pleased to partner with Premier Rides on Dragonfire.  Premier’s innovation and quality is evident in their work for other clients such as Universal Studios and together we will create for our valued visitors a one-of-a-kind world-class attraction.”

Seay added, “We are honored to be a part of Halul’s formula for success by supplying this unique attraction that combines an exciting dark ride experience with a high-thrill coaster that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Dragonfire will incorporate the latest in magnetic launch technology combined with a cutting-edge track design, complete with a backward launch up a “spike” outside the building, giving riders a birds-eye view of the area before dropping back down the spike.  This signature attraction will be a phenomenal thrill ride.”

Located in Qatar, the Doha Oasis Mall project will consist of upscale retail shops, fine dining experiences and an indoor amusement park that will make the facility a landmark in the region.  The project is slated to open in 2017.