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The Arc Baltimore Honors "Employers of Distinction"

On Wednesday, October 26th, The Arc Baltimore will honor three Baltimore employers at its "Employers of Distinction" event at the Crowne Plaza in Timonium. This event celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and is designed to showcase companies that have hired people with physical and developmental disabilities through The Arc Baltimore's employment programs.

The three employers chosen -- Ace Uniform, The Guilford Association, and WJZ-TV 13 -- will be honored by The Arc Baltimore as Partners in Distinction. The companies will be honored for hiring people with disabilities supported by The Arc Baltimore's programs for a variety of  jobs including landscaping crews, janitorial positions, and workforce support.

"The leadership demonstrated by these companies and others like them in employing persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities sends a strong message to the entire business community that these individuals not only can be productive members of the workforce, but also can contribute to the success of your business if only they are given the opportunity," says Stephen H. Morgan, Executive Director of The Arc Baltimore.

The annual "Employers of Distinction" event was established to show support for employers who hire workers from The Arc Baltimore's program. Last year's winners were Applebee's of Catonsville, Superfresh of Glen Burnie, Superfresh of Perry Hall, The Maryland Zoo, UMBC, University of Maryland Physicians, and WMAR-TV 2.

The Arc Baltimore was established in 1949 and  currently supports over 4,000 Baltimore City and Baltimore County residents with disabilities and their families.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: The Arc Baltimore 

Moody's Job Growth Forecast for Maryland Stagnant

Moody's Analytics recently released their Job Growth forecast, and the results are stagnant for Maryland. Moody's used the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey to gather data. The data in the analysis is based on employment and industry trends from the CES survey's averages of  national, state and metro data through second-quarter 2011. The analysis continues to project jobs growth and industry forecasts through the second quarter of 2015.

The numbers for Maryland show growth in the area job market at projected to be at a near standstill through the second quarter of 2012. Moody's anticipates a change of 0.2% in the Baltimore area jobs market through that period. According to the report, jobs growth in the Baltimore Metro region is not expected to reach a full percentage point until 2013.

The report also breaks down jobs growth by industry. In Moody's one year jobs growth projections, the largest gains in the Baltimore metro region are seen in Natural Resources & Mining. This includes jobs related to agriculture, fishing, mining, and alternative energy. Moody's sees a potential 15.1% growth for the area in this sector. 

The second most promising sectors in the Baltimore jobs forecast are Professional and Business Services and Education and Health Services. Moody's predicts a 2.2% one year growth in both of these sectors. Professional and Business services includes science and technology jobs and professional management and administrative services. The Education and Health category includes hospitals, medical labs, and universities.

The biggest decreases are predicted for Construction at -3.2%, Transportation and Warehousing at -1.5% and Utilities at -2.0%. Other industries, including Retail and Hospitality, are predicted to stay stagnant through 2012, with less than 1% change in available jobs.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Moody's Analytics

Branches PSP To Do Marketing For Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Build

Branches PSP will be handling the regional marketing for an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition filmed on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Annapolis-based professional services company is working in concert with the Fusion Companies and other businesses to donate services that will make one family's dream of owning the home that they need into a reality.

"The news of actually landing the project was really out of the blue. We had no advance notice, no time to prepare, no time to get a game plan together. Then, we pulled ourselves together, counted to 10, took a deep breath and started with one foot in front of the other. We've been thinking on our feet and making things happen in real time ever since. It helps that everyone involved is for the right reasons. No one is taking on this enormous challenge for profit or personal gains. We all want to do this because we are all about building and strengthening communities," says Shawn Cochran, Owner of Branches PSP.

The company became involved in the EMHE project through a business relationship with The Fusion Companies, one of their oldest clients. Since the launch of the project, and through the build, Branches has helped to rally support and get Maryland businesses to donate to the cause.

"I speak for everybody involved in this project when I say that this will change all of us forever. The people and the businesses that are bending over backwards to help a truly beautiful family find their way home is awe inspiring," continues Cochran.

The next project for Branches PSP will be to launch a website for the Eastport Gallery. The art gallery is dedicated to preserving the work of iconic area photographer M.E Warren, who is best known for photographs of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Annapolis, and Baltimore.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Shawn Cochran, Branches PSP

Lockheed Martin Leaders Named to Fortune's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business

Three top female executives with Lockheed Martin have been named to Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list. This is the second year that these three women have been named to the magazine's annual list.

Marillyn Hewson, Executive Vice President, Electronic Systems, was ranked at 27. Joanne Maguire, Executive Vice President, Space Systems Company, was ranked at 29. Linda Gooden, Executive Vice President, Information Systems & Global Solutions, was ranked at 33. The divisions of the company led by these three executives accounted for more than 70% of Lockheed Martin's 2010 revenue.

"Marillyn, Joanne, and Linda exemplify what it means to be full spectrum leaders," says Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO. "They oversee complex, technologically sophisticated programs in support of our customers and together they inspire the 126,000 men and women of Lockheed Martin and future generations of innovators and inventors."

Lockheed Martin Electronic Systems, led by Hewson, reported $14.4 billion in sales in 2010. The division's products include maritime systems, missile defense, unmanned systems, and sensors. Maguire's division,  Lockheed Martin Space Systems, produces remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites, strategic and missile defense systems, space observatories, and interplanetary spacecraft. That division registered $8.25 billion in sales in 2010. Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, led by Gooden, recently acquired QTC Holdings Inc., the largest provider of medical evaluation services to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and reported $9.96 billion in revenue. The 17-year old division is the largest provider of information services to the US government.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Chris Williams, Lockheed Martin

SpotCrime Becomes Most Visited Online Crime Mapping Site

Baltimore-based website SpotCrime has become the web's most visited online crime mapping site, with over 300,000 subscribers. The company estimates that over 6 million people interact with SpotCrime every month, including media partners and other websites.

The SpotCrime site aggregates nationwide crime data, and allows users to search by zip code to view a map with icons for crimes in that area. The site tracks local crimes from vandalism to shootings, and displays icons and addresses of the locations of crimes reported in that area. Data can be generated for most US areas. The data displayed is pulled from police reports and verified news sources.

Subscribers to SpotCrime can sign up to receive SMS text alerts when a crime is added in their area, or download the app for iPhone to receive and share crime information. SpotCrime also maintains a blog explaining crime data trends and updating subscribers on current mapping projects.

The website has partnered with real estate site Trulia to report crime data to potential home buyers in 50 metropolitan areas nationwide. SpotCrime is also available to Direct TV users. It is the second most popular app available through that service. 

The company estimates that continued growth at this pace will enable them to break the 500,000 subscriber mark by mid 2012.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: http://spotcrime.blogspot.com/, http://www.spotcrime.com

Rent-A-Center Donates Computers to Creative Kids, Inc.

Creative Kids, Inc. will be receiving new computers as part of Rent-A-Center's "Random Acts of Caring" initiative. The company will be providing Creative Kids with three laptops, six desktops and one tablet --  ten new computers in all.

"Creative Kids is grateful to be the recipient of Rent-A-Center's generous donation," says Jennie Fumarola, Creative Kids director. "The computers will serve our community in immeasurable ways, allowing us to provide increased access to computers and the internet and free educational instruction to families who may not have access to these resources."

Creative Kids operates community centers focused on helping children and families in Maryland. Through their community center programs, the non-profit uses a whole family approach to help disadvantaged families cope. The community centers, in Cockeysville, Essex, and Loch Raven offer children's activities including after school programs, tutoring, arts programs, and play groups. Creative Kids also offers programs designed to help adults in need, including job search assistance, financial training workshops, and ESOL classes.

The community centers feature computer labs that are accessible to the families Creative Kids serves. The new computers donated by Rent-A-Center will be used to enhance the programs and services that are offered at the centers.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Creative Kids

Incite Creative Adds 3 Positions, Continues to Grow

Incite Creative, a marketing and graphic design firm, has added three new staff members. The Baltimore-based company was established by Dina Wasmer and Carl Cox in 2003. The growing firm has expanded its creative and marketing senior staff, and is searching for additional talent.

The three new hires are expected to increase opportunity for Incite Creative in several areas and foster cultural diversity. The firm is looking to expand its hotel and hospitality portfolio with the addition of Nadine Afiouni, a former team member at McCann Erickson Advertising, and a graduate of American University of Beirut, as a new Associate Creative Director. Ms. Afiouni has worked at building several brands in the Saudi market, including Hilton Hotels, The Body Shop, and Fairmont Hotels.

Maria Fuster joins Incite Creative as a new Marketing Strategist. The Notre Dame of Maryland graduate has launched several businesses in real estate and marketing, with specific focus on connecting with the Latino market.

Graphic designer and illustrator Joe Parisi is also joining the team at Incite as an Associate Creative Director. Mr. Parisi's art and design work has been featured in campaigns by The National Aquarium, ESPN, FILA, and the American Red Cross.

Incite Creative is continuing to expand staff as the economy improves. The company is currently looking to add experienced freelance graphic designers and freelance copywriters to its roster. Incite Creative is also accepting reservations for its signature Positioning Workshops, including the Full Bodied and Positioning Lite marketing workshops.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Dina Wasmer, Incite Creative

MEDA Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Announces Economic Development Week Conference

The Maryland Economic Development Association is turning 50. The non-profit organization was formed in 1961 with the goal of encouraging partnership and networking among the businesses and professionals involved in the economic development climate in Maryland.

MEDA will be hosting a conference in conjunction with Maryland's Economic Development Week. This is the first year for Economic Development Week, which MEDA hopes to make an annual event. MEDA, in conjunction with Comcast, will be sponsoring economic development week to highlight award-winning economic development projects in Maryland.

As a highlight of Economic Development Week, MEDA also plans to host the MEDA Fall Conference on October 28th at the Turf Valley Conference Center in Ellicott City. The MEDA 2011 Fall Conference is entitled "Economic Development: An Investment in Partnerships That Strengthens Our Competitiveness". The conference will feature programming and sessions designed to showcase new ideas in the economic development marketplace, identify areas for improvement in Maryland's economic development strategies, and celebrate the programs, projects, and people that have made a difference in Maryland's economic development landscape in 2011.

MEDA is currently accepting nominees for the 2012 MEDA awards, as well as applications for membership.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: MEDA

TEDCO Hosting Entrepreneur Expo

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation, a state-sponsored agency to encourage technological and entrepreneurial development in Maryland, is hosting the event "2011 ENTREPRENEUR EXPO: Harnessing the Power of Innovation in Maryland" on November 14 at the BWI Marriott. The event is designed to serve as a kick off for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Maryland.

The program of events includes a prize competition entitled "Entrepreneurial Launch Pad" in which conference participants are offered 3 minutes on stage in a conference hall to explain to a panel of judges and audience members what their business is doing that is innovative. Prizes will be awarded to the most innovative entrepreneur.

The Expo will also offer a Marketplace exhibition hall where Maryland companies and emerging entrepreneurs can showcase what their companies are doing with exhibits and demonstrations. The Marketplace will offer a Town Square central area with interactive programming and curated sessions by Betascape. Attendees will also have the opportunity to search for a mentor at the Meet Your Mentor event, a speed networking event with over 50 service providers and entrepreneurial support organizations participating.

Early Bird registration is available through October 20th.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: TEDCO

Baltimore Bed and Breakfasts Teams up with Moveable Feast for Holiday Tours

The Better Baltimore Bed and Breakfasts Association has decided to take their annual Holiday House Tour event to the next level by partnering with local chefs and the charity Moveable Feast this holiday season. The Second Annual Holiday House Tour will showcase the best of Baltimore's bed and breakfasts and local food scene while raising money for Moveable Feast, a charity devoted to preserving quality of life for those suffering from HIV/AIDS and other life threatening conditions.

"We have decided to add a more foodie twist to the tour this year by inviting local chefs and wineries to be part of the event, offering tastes of wines paired with great foods. The B&Bs will also be offering some of their own palate pleasing treats as well. Since there is a definite love of food angle going on, we chose to sponsor a fantastic charity that helps those in need get wholesome and nutritious meals that help people maintain and maybe even improve their overall health," says Association President Barry Werner.

The Second Annual Holiday House tour will feature six Baltimore bed and breakfasts. Blue Door, Ceilie's Waterfront Inn, Scarborough Fair, the Inn at 2920, Rachel's Dowry, and the 1840's Carrollton Inn will all be showcasing their holiday décor. At each inn, tour participants will be invited to sample cuisine prepared by the innkeepers and local chefs.

"Each B&B will host a local chef who will have a food paired up with a wine produced locally. This combined with homemade specialties from the innkeepers and wonderful holiday décor will provide a lot of holiday cheer and inspiration for those on the tour. Motor coach transportation is also included in the rate," Werner continues.

The Association is petitioning the Mayor's office to have November declared Bed & Breakfast Month in Baltimore. Tickets for the Holiday House tour to benefit Moveable Feast are available now.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Barry Werner, Scarborough Fair Bed and Breakfast, Better Baltimore Bed and Breakfasts Association

Members Hotel Network Online Travel Savings Club Launches In Columbia

Nik Mody and his partners, Vinit Mody and Roshan Patel, are using their experience in the hospitality industry to launch a new online travel savings club. Based in Columbia, MD, Members Hotel Network aims to create an online travel booking site that benefits both guests and hoteliers.

Typically, bookings that come to hoteliers through an online travel agency cost the hotelier about 22% in commissions paid to the agency. Travelers booking through online travel brokers are often unaware that hotel franchisees are obligated to enforce a rate parity concept by their corporate parents that ensures that online brokers and the hotel's online site are providing the same rate. Booking travel through a broker also usually means that a traveler is unable to collect loyalty points for the booking.

"Our purpose is to serve the two most important entities in the process, the guest and the hotelier," says MHN founder Nik Mody.

The company launched the club's booking site in June. At the Members Hotel Network site, club members can book hotels and rental cars at a club discount around the country. Bookings through the site qualify for hotel and rental car company reward programs, as well as discounts from AARP and AAA. Club members also earn reward points from Members Hotel Network that can be redeemed through the site for cash back rewards.

"We continue to have good traction since our June launch with significant increases in membership registrations and reservations. The public is gaining a better understanding of what it means to have all of their perks back at no cost," says Mody

Members Hotel Network recently added staff at its Columbia office, and is looking at expanding further in the near future. The club is offering free membership through the end of September.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Nik Mody, Members Hotel Network

Chesapeake Capital Ventures Growing With The Economic Recovery

Chesapeake Capital Ventures is taking Maryland's products overseas. As the world economy begins to recover, the United States once again became the second largest exporter of goods in the world. Companies like Chesapeake Capital Ventures have responded to the demand for US made food and consumer products by ramping up their efforts to get  those goods into the hands of consumers in emerging markets overseas.

"We here in America make fine products, from consumer goods and foods and beverages to electronics and energy-related hardware. The quality control of US made goods surpasses that of almost all of our competitors. Quality control and American innovation go a long way with foreign merchants, and they typically understand that when they look to America for a product to market, they know they are getting high-quality and sustainable products," says Daniel Beach of Chesapeake Capital Ventures.

Located in Dunkirk, Chesapeake Capital Ventures is finding success taking products produced by small to medium sized manufacturers to market overseas. Food products, from wheat to prepared foods, are especially popular. The company takes a full-service approach to helping those smaller companies enter the export market.

"We don't simply act as intermediaries, do marketing, match-making, and advertise US goods on behalf of our clients. We represent our US clients and run the entire export gambit from start to finish. From proposing contract terms and agreements, to banking solutions and shipping quotes, and on to freight forwarding, securing payment and drafting a Letter of Credit," continues Beach.

Chesapeake Capital Ventures is currently looking for more manufacturers to market. The company is also accepting applications from students to work as part-time researchers.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Daniel Beach, Chesapeake Capital Ventures

Twin Ridge Apartments and Standard Solar Go Green

Standard Solar, a Baltimore based solar panel installation firm, installed a large array of solar panels at the Twin Ridge apartment complex in Pikesville this month. The array consists of 36 panels mounted on the roof of the clubhouse. It is a 6.66 kW system with an estimated annual output is 8,218 kilowatt hours. 

"We were inspired by the environmental as well as the economic benefits to add solar power to the Twin Ridge Community. Residents will immediately benefit from this step in making our community more green and there is a sense of pride in seeing the panels on top of our clubhouse; however our residents will also benefit the system every time they use the exercise facilities or the restrooms by our pool. The solar panels should help keep the landlord's costs down and hopefully reduce future rent increases," says Brian A. Goldman, Esq., General Partner at Twin Ridge Apartments.

The newly installed panels will power the clubhouse area of the complex, including the gym, management offices, showers, common rooms, restrooms, and maintenance facilities. The solar array is the first of its kind in the Baltimore area.

"Twin Ridge is the first apartment complex in Baltimore County to go solar, setting an example for others in the Baltimore community to go green by using solar as an affordable alternative to conventional power," says Rick Berube, Vice President of Operations, Standard Solar.

The management company of Twin Ridge Apartments is interested in continuing to add more alternative energy option like solar power in the future. As alternative energy costs become more affordable, the apartment complex ownership will be looking at ways to use alternative fuel sources including solar power to power individual apartments.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Brian Goldman, Twin Ridge Apartments; Rick Berube, Standard Solar

AVF Consulting is Growing, Turning 25

AVF Consulting is hiring. The Towson-based company, a Microsoft Silver ERP partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV financial management systems, has added four positions this year, and has two more positions open currently. The company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month.

"AVF began in 1986 when Andrew Fass, a CPA for a big five accounting firm, coupled his strength in accounting with his love for technology and started AVF Consulting. Andrew began AVF Consulting because he had the skills and vision required to provide businesses not only with the right software, but with guidance and direction," says Karen Tran, Marketing Specialist at AVF Consulting.

The company has also added several new programs and clients this year. AVF's K12 Enterprise division added Groton Public Schools in Connecticut, Vandalia-Butler City Schools in Ohio, and YES Prep Charter Schools in Texas to its client list. The National Endowment for Democracy purchased Serenic Navigator from AVF in July 2011.

"AVF recently hired a customer care representative and has another position open. We are actively recruiting a consultant with deep NAV and retail experience. Because we specialize in Microsoft Dynamics NAV we are always looking for highly skilled and experienced NAV consultants," Tran continues.

In 2011, AVF launched Dynamic Shared Services (DSS), a shared services organization, providing accounting, membership management, dues processing, and reporting services to organizations. DSS currently serves Labor Unions throughout the country, but plans to provide services to nonprofits and school districts. The company also plans to release Click-to-Pay Invoicing for its ChargeLogic Connect systems in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Karen Tran, AVF Consulting

FiberPlex Technologies Acquires LightViper

Fiberplex Technologies in Annapolis Junction is the new home of the LightViper system. The company was formed in July to reorganize the LightViper fiber optic brand and Shadow audio/visual brand formerly held by FiberPlex Incorporated.

The new organizational structure also brings with it an infusion of fresh capital, allowing the company to pursue expansion. FiberPlex technologies manufactures both fiber optic communications, audio, video, and telco equipment for use in private settings, the public sector, and the defense industry.

The company also manufactures professional audio visual equipment. Their Pro audio equipment has been used at the Orange Bowl, the BCS College Championship, and has gone on tour with several bands including Metallica. The audio video division was launched in 2004 by Harry "Buddy" Oliver, the new president and CEO of FiberPlex technologies. Cynthia Oliver Peters, an executive coach and organizational change management specialist, has also been added to the board at FiberPlex.

FiberPlex is planning to expand operations as it completes the transition cycle. The company is currently hiring a Senior Hardware Design Engineer. FiberPlex technologies also announced that it plans to continue its policy of keeping all of its staff and manufacturing in the United States, instead of outsourcing.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Buddy Oliver,  FiberPlex Technologies
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