Archives For Martin O’Malley

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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The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), through the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), has invested $75,000 in CoFoundersLab, a Rockville startup that provides an online matchmaking service for entrepreneurs. The MVF investment was made with funds raised byInvestMarylandone of Governor Martin O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives. A public-private partnership between the State and venture capital firms,InvestMaryland raised $84 million to reinvigorate the State-run MVF and support the growth of young Maryland companies in biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce and other high-growth industries.

“CoFoundersLab is an innovative, exciting young company and a valuable resource for their fellow entrepreneurs. Having a strong team in place is often the most important ingredient in a startup’s success,” said Dominick Murray, DBED Secretary. “Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses are the engine that drives Maryland’s economy and keeps our State competitive. We are proud to make this investment in CoFoundersLab and look forward to their success, and the success of the companies they touch.”

“We’re delighted to gain the support of the Maryland Venture Fund to help CoFoundersLab achieve its ambitious plans for growth. InvestMaryland has proven to be one of the most progressive state programs to help foster startups activity, the engine for job creation,” said Shahab Kaviani, Cofounder and CEO of CoFoundersLab. “With this investment we’ll continue to improve our matching algorithm and launch events in more cities so the best founding teams can unite to launch new business and create jobs for Maryland and beyond.”

CoFoundersLab is the world’s largest online community of entrepreneurs and helps them discover and connect with more than 25,000 cofounders, advisers, and interns to launch and grow new businesses. Members make connections through an online matching site at and through in-person matchup events hosted in more than 35 cities across the globe. Its success stories include ReelGenie, an online service based in Silver Spring that creates videos from a customer’s videos and photos. ReelGenie received a $150,000 investment from the MVF in July 2013. CoFoundersLab has also provided Premium Memberships to all 41 companies that advanced to the second round of the InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s national business competition.

Created by Governor O’Malley and passed by the General Assembly in 2011, InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. In March 2012, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies. Two-thirds of the funding – $56 million – is being managed by carefully screened private venture firms that will invest the funds and, if successful, return 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. The remaining third of the InvestMaryland capital is largely allocated to direct investments by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.

The Maryland Venture Fund is a regionally recognized leader in seed and early-stage investing and a national model for state-supported investment programs. With nearly two decades of experience and numerous successful investments, MVF invests in highly innovative technology companies across the full range of industry sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences companies in the areas of healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (December 5, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley joined Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral Filho last night to sign an agreement to share best practices for keeping both the Chesapeake Bay and Rio’s Guanabara Bay clean, healthy and sustainable. The agreement aims to connect the more than three decades of experience Maryland has in restoring the Chesapeake Bay with the current challenges that Rio faces with improving the water quality of Guanabara Bay in time for the 2016 Olympics. The agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the two Governors in March 2011 and a cooperative effort that began earlier this year between Maryland’s Secretaries of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Environmental Secretary and State Environmental Institute (INEA) in Rio.

“We’ve made tremendous progress cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and today, we’re building on that progress by sharing our experiences with our counterparts here in Brazil,” said Governor O’Malley. ”From BayStat  to restoring our signature blue crab and creating hundreds of green jobs across our state, Maryland’s programs are leading the way to a greener, more sustainable future.” Continue Reading…

Maryland added 6,200 private sector jobs in June, and 4,300 total to continue the state’s streak of strong job creation in 2013, according to figures released Thursday afternoon by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Over the last 12 months, Maryland has added 42,800 jobs, a 1.7 percent increase. Since the bottom of the recession, Maryland added back 99.4 percent of the jobs lost to the downturn.

“Last month, Maryland’s businesses created 6,200 new jobs. Together, as a state, we’ve now recovered more than 99 percent of the jobs lost in the national economic downturn — a significant step forward in our job creation and recovery efforts,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a written statement. “Thanks to the better choices we’ve made together, all three bond rating agencies recently affirmed Maryland’s fiscally responsible approach by certifying our State as one of only nine with a Triple A bond rating. But there are still too many moms and dads out of work, and that’s why the most important job we create is the next one. The O’Malley-Brown Administration is committed to investing in the skills, talents, innovation and creativity of our people so that we can continue to strengthen and grow our State’s economy, and move forward by expanding opportunity for our diverse and growing middle class.”

The leisure and hospitality sector added 3,200 jobs and education, health care and social assistance added 1,800 to lead the private sector growth. Other sectors posted smaller gains or declined. Government employment declined by 1,900 in June.

Labor officials also revised higher the preliminary estimate of Maryland’s job growth in May, leaving the state with an increase of 6,500 jobs that month rather than the 4,600 originally reported.

Maryland added 4,600 new jobs in May, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures released Friday morning by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

So far this year, Maryland has added jobs in four out of five months. Most of May’s new jobs, some 2,800, were added in the private sector. Since May 2012, the private sector has expanded by 31,100 jobs. Overall, Maryland has added 35,600 jobs during that time, an increase of 1.6 percent.

“As a state, we have now recovered over 95 percent of the jobs lost during the Bush recession – another step toward our goal to recover every job we’ve lost during the downturn by the end of 2014,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “In Maryland, we continue to target our skills and investment pipeline to bolster the life sciences, biotech, cyber security, space and aerospace, global trade, and advanced manufacturing because we know that to move forward in our jobs recovery, we must make the better choices to grow our Innovation Economy. Though this jobs report is promising, there are still too many moms and dads out of work. That’s why together, we must continue to give our highly-skilled and educated workforce the tools they need to compete and expand the ranks of our diverse and upwardly-mobile middle class.”

The professional and business services sector led the way in May with 4,000 new jobs, while trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities added 2,200. Information, a small sector, added 400 jobs. Leisure and hospitality also added 400.

Government employment increased by 1,800, with 1,200 state and 700 federal jobs added. Local government employment dipped  100.

The unemployment rate ticked higher in May, to 6.7 percent, as more Marylanders entered the labor force.

Labor officials also revised last month’s employment report, reporting a decline of 4,900 jobs in April, down from the 6,200 job decline that was first reported.

Governor Martin O’Malley is working toward increased collaboration between Maryland and Israeli companies. During his eight-day trade mission to Israel and Jordan, he launched the Maryland/Israel Development Partnership to fund joint development efforts in the cybersecurity and life sciences sectors, the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development announced Sunday.

“Innovation is not a solo act. History has shown that we can speed our path to discovery through collaboration and partnership,” O’Malley said in a statement. “I am pleased to announce the creation of the Maryland/Israel Development Partnership and look forward to what we will achieve when we bring together the bright minds and talented entrepreneurs in Maryland and Israel to tackle the great challenges facing our planet.”

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By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Plasmonix and Bambeco have received the latest investments through InvestMaryland, the Department of Business and Economic Development announced Thursday.

The state made equity investments of $100,000 in Plasmonix and $200,000 in Bambeco, which also received $400,000 through InvestMaryland last month.

“Companies like Plasmonix and Bambeco continue to shape the future of Maryland’s economy by growing the jobs of tomorrow,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “These are the first of what will be dozens of investments over the coming months thanks to InvestMaryland’s significant impact on our State’s innovative companies.”

InvestMaryland is the largest venture capital investment initiative in Maryland’s history. In March, the State raised $84 million for the program through an online auction of tax credits to Maryland insurance companies.

Two-thirds of the InvestMaryland funds will be managed by carefully screened private venture firms, who will invest the funds with a commitment to return, if successful, 100% of the principal and 80% of the profits to the State’s general fund. Grotech Ventures was tapped last week as the first InvestMaryland partner and received $12 million to invest on behalf of the state. The remaining third will be invested by the state-run Maryland Venture Fund.

So far, the state has made eight investments through InvestMaryland. DBED has also launched the InvestMaryland Challenge, a business competition that will award three $100,000 top prizes and about $150,000 worth of in-kind business services to other entries.

Applications for the competition are due today (Thursday 12/13) by 11:59 p.m. EST.

“The speed with which the InvestMaryland funds are being disbursed and the strength of the companies in which we are investing show how critical this program is to the State’s entrepreneurs and start-up community,” DBED Secretary Christian Johansson said. “Investments from programs like InvestMaryland and its partners in the private sector can propel entrepreneurs from innovation to commercialization to company formation to job creation.”

Plasmonix, is a biotechnology company specializing in metal-enhanced fluorescence, which is used in cell detection for medical research and clinical diagnostics. The technology has potential applications across the life science, as well as in cosmetics, apparel, paints and lighting.

“Plasmonix is grateful for the continued support from the Maryland Venture Fund and the Department of Business and Economic Development,” said William Gust, president and CEO of Plasmonix. “These funds are critically important to the ongoing development and commercialization of Plasmonix’s technology and we would not be where we are today without this support. We hope to repay the confidence demonstrated in Plasmonix by adding jobs and growing the company here in Maryland.”

An online retailer of sustainable products, Bambeco’s catalog includes solar-powered tea lanterns, recycled scrap steel trash bins, bicycle chain bottle openers and briefcases made from recycled truck tires with seatbelt shoulder straps. The company has 24 employees and expects to double its staff in the next two years.

“We are honored to be a recipient of venture capital funding through InvestMaryland,” said Susan Aplin, Bambeco president and CEO. “Forty percent of annual retail sales in the United States occur during fourth quarter. These funds allow Bambeco to secure the necessary inventory for our planned holiday sales. We are thankful for the additional investment from InvestMaryland and thank Maryland Venture Fund, the Department of Business and Economic Development, and Governor O’Malley for their continued support as we work to create jobs and help grow Maryland’s economy.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

HBO is back in Maryland and filming the second season of the award-winning series “Veep.”

The series, set in Washington D.C. stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, a former senator turned hapless vice president. Louis-Dreyfus took home an Emmy earlier this year for her work on the first season of the show. The series was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series.

“We are very pleased that HBO and the Veep cast and crew have returned to Maryland for what we are confident will be another very successful production experience,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “The State and HBO have had a successful partnership over the years, and we look forward to more seasons of filming Veep in Maryland.”

HBO also filmed the acclaimed drama series “The Wire” in and around Baltimore and, more recently, shot part of “Game Change” in the city.

Maryland’s Film Production Employment Act of 2011, which offers tax credits to offset the cost of production, helped to secure the Veep production.

The Maryland Film Office estimates the second season of Veep could have an economic impact in excess of $40 million. The first season of Veep resulted in the hiring of 978 Maryland crew, actors and extras, and the production company purchased or rented goods or services from 1,141 Maryland vendors.

The tax credit has also helped the state land “House of Cards,” the Netflix series headlined by Kevin Spacey; “Ping Pong Summer” starring Susan Sarandon; and “Better Living Through Chemistry” starring Olivia Wilde.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Grotech Ventures, a local venture capital firm, will invest $12 million on behalf of the state through the InvestMaryland program, the state announced Thursday.

Grotech is the first venture partner for InvestMaryland.

The Maryland Venture Fund Authority, which oversees InvestMaryland, tapped Grotech “because of its long history investing in early stage technology companies in Maryland and overall solid record of investment,” said authority Chairman Peter Greenleaf, who is also president of Gaithersburg-based MedImmune.

InvestMaryland, created in 2011 raised $84 million in March to invest in promising young Maryland companies in life sciences, cyber security, information technology, green energy and other targeted industries.

Private venture firms will invest two-thirds of that money, returning all of the principal and 80 percent of the profits on successful investments. The state will invest the rest.

Grotech’s $12 million is a little more than 20 percent of the $56 million that will eventually be disbursed to private venture firms.

“Through partners like Grotech and other venture firms that will invest these funds in the jobs of tomorrow, we continue to prove that Maryland remains on the cutting edge of innovation, and that our greatest assets are the talents, skills, creativity, ingenuity, and education of our people,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

Grotech was founded in 1984 and has operations in Maryland and Virginia. Its investment portfolio includes technology companies such as, Living Social, MicroProse, Zenoss and CDNow.

“Our goal with InvestMaryland is to plant the seeds for the next generation of innovative companies – the next Google, the next Microsoft – right here in Maryland,” said Christian Johansson, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development.

InvestMaryland builds on the success of the Maryland Venture Fund, which will receive most of the state’s share of the $84 million. The fund was seeded with $25 million 17 years ago and has made more than 100 investments, generating returns of more than $67 million, creating 2,000 jobs and spurring more than $1 billion follow-on private investment.

So far, four companies have received investments through InvestMaryland. Brainscope, of Bethesda, received $250,000 and Rockville-based Maxtena, $560,000. Two Baltimore companies, Bambeco and PathSensors, received $400,000 and $200,000, respectively.

InvestMaryland funds will also be awarded through the InvestMaryland Challege, a $425,000 business competition open to Maryland companies and others willing to move to the state. Through Tuesday, the Challenge had 156 applicants.

The state will give away three $100,000 prizes, one each in life sciences, IT and a general, open category. Entrants can also win $125,000 in in-kind business services.

Grotech Ventures was unable to comment due to legal restrictions on public statements during their fundraising period.

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

The Governor’s Commission on Small Business has wrapped up the first round of its listening tour across the state after making stops in Southern Maryland and Frederick and on the Eastern Shore. Now the panel is planning its next stops as it crafts a series of recommendations to assist small businesses.

“The people that I’ve talked to, basically they’re optimistic that things are going to be better for the small business community,” said Ackneil Muldrow II, chairman of the commission and president and CEO of Parker Muldrow & Associates. “But, the economy is impacting them in many ways. There’s discussion on how much they have to pay for unemployment [insurance], government regulation. One of the critical things is access to capital they need that in order to enter into any sort of expansion or growth mode.”

Maryland has, in recent years, renewed its efforts to nurture and support homegrown small businesses, recognizing that entrepreneurship and innovation fuel the state’s economy. Small businesses make up nearly 98 percent of the employers in Maryland and account for more than half of the state’s jobs.

In January 2011, Gov. Martin O’Malley launched “Maryland Made Easy” to streamline regulations, simplify and digitize permitting processes, improve inter-agency communication and take other steps to improve the state’s oversight of businesses. In March 2012, the governor identified 131 obsolete or overly burdensome regulations for repeal. The state will soon move the Central Business Licensing system online, with the system going live in the first week of December.

Maryland also led the push for the Obama administration’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, a program that awarded this state $23 million for small business financing programs. The General Assembly and the governor created the Maryland Innovation Initiative to fund the commercialization of promising technologies developed at public and private universities, and the InvestMaryland program that in March raised $84 million to make venture capital investments in promising, young Maryland companies.

The state also got good news in October. Improvements in the job market have lessened the strain on the unemployment insurance system, meaning businesses will see cuts — many upward of 55 percent — in their unemployment taxes next year.

“Muldrow said he, Co-Chair Karen Barbour and their fellow commissioners will be exploring more ways to assuage business owners’ chief concern – a tough lending environment that has made capital hard to come by.”

“Many want to expand but they don’t have the capital because many of the financial institutions are not lending to small businesses,” he said. “They’ve tightened their standards to a point where there’s no latitude to take on many small businesses.”

The commission will also look for ways to improve workforce development programs and help small firms win more state contracts, Muldrow said.

“We’re talking about what creative ways government and the private sector can come together to provide resources to small businesses because that’s the engine we have,” he said.

Despite the economic headwinds, Muldrow remains optimistic about the state’s small businesses.

“I think, optimistically, we’re not going to get back where we were pre-recession days, but we’ll get back somewhere reasonably close to that,” he said. “We’ve got to look at life a little differently. How can we be creative as a people? How can we pool resources? We also have to attract people from other countries to buy our products. We have to do more marketing beyond our borders. I am optimistic, but we’ve got to work for it. People will do that. Pressure is going to push them in that direction.”

By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews

Protenergy Natural Foods, of Ontario, will expand its U.S. headquarters on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The move will add 100 full-time jobs by April and another 27 over the next five years.

Protenergy now employs 53 at its Cambridge facility, where it makes its soups, broths and sauces. The company is purchasing the 67-acre site and 200,000-square-foot building that it now leases as part of the $20.3 million expansion project.

“We are extremely pleased to be acquiring the facility in Cambridge,” said John Black, Protenergy’s CFO. “During the past year, we have invested significantly in the plant and recently completed the commissioning of two additional production lines. These new lines significantly increase our capabilities and capacity to meet growing customer demand for our products.”

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development provided a $3.6 million loan guarantee and a $250,000 conditional loan to assist with the project.

“It is exciting to see a forward-thinking company like Protenergy creating high-quality jobs on the Eastern Shore,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Protenergy’s decision to further invest in our State reflects our strong support for growing our manufacturing industry and our commitment to working with our county partners to grow and retain jobs.”

Bith Energy, of Baltimore, has proposed a 50- to 60-acre solar farm on Nixon’s Farm in West Friendship, Howard County, according to The Sun.

The project needs a change to county zoning regulations to get off the ground. The amended rule is set for a council vote Dec. 3.

Montgomery County is considering making investments in companies in the county, according to The Washington Examiner.

A bill before the county council would allow the county to take up to 25 percent ownership. The legislation would add equity investments to the economic development arsenal stocked now with forgivable loans tied to job creation requirements.

Maryland’s horse and race track owners are nearing a deal that would bring much-needed stability to the state’s thoroughbred industry, according to the Sun.

The agreement between the Maryland Jockey Club — owner of Laurel Park and Pimlico — and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association would guarantee racing days for the next decade. In recent years, as Novembers passed and Decembers crept by, the two sides struggled to reach deals on the racing days, threatening the Preakness, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, as well as the sport’s very existence in the state.

Home prices rose in most major cities in September, according to an AP story in The Daily Record.

Thrasher’s, that staple of the Ocean City boardwalk, is getting some national love, according to The Daily Times.

The new owner of the Westin in Annapolis has big plans for the hotel, including more meeting space and other renovations, The Capital reports.

And, just because I think it’s a cool story, the Pentagon is using a virtual “town” to prepare its hackers for cyber warfare, according to The Washington Post.

CyberCity has a hospital, a power plant, a rail road and, yes, even a rocket launcher. (Check the graphic.) The 15,000 “residents” of CyberCity will use the coffee shop wi-fi and have bank account passwords, email accounts and pages on the town’s faux-social network, FaceSpace.

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Tuesday morning he will postpone the state’s planned trade mission to Israel so as to not distract from the “urgent cause of peace” in the region. The governor, business leaders, academics and government officials were scheduled to leave for the eight-day trip just after Thanksgiving.

President Obama on Tuesday dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East to hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“After many days of monitoring the situation in the Middle East, I’ve decided to reschedule Maryland’s Economic Development Mission to Israel,” O’Malley said in a statement.

“Not wanting to be a distraction from the urgent cause of peace, I look forward to visiting Israel in the months ahead with Maryland business, research and academic leaders.”

“For now, we join with our Israeli and Palestinian neighbors in praying for a cease-fire and peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

The trip to Israel would have been O’Malley’s third trade mission in the last 18 months. He took a delegation to China, South Korea and Vietnam in the spring of 2011 and made a post-Thanksgiving trip to India later that year. Those missions landed nearly $85 million and $60 million in business deals for Maryland companies.

O’Malley also led a trade mission to Israel in 2008.