Angel Investor Helping Baltimore Companies to Grow

It’s an exciting day for two Baltimore start-ups that each received $200,000 from the Propel Baltimore Fund to continue their work. The Propel Baltimore Fund is backed by the Maryland Technology Development Corp., the Abell Foundation and the France-Merrick Foundation.

The two start-ups that received funds included SocialToaster Inc. and Woofound Inc. As The Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry Jr. explained,

“Propel Baltimore seeks to support Baltimore City’s most promising startup companies, and there’s no doubt that Social Toaster and Woofound both possess compelling investments with strong growth potential.”

SocialToaster works with clients to help them to improve their marketing and branding. Woofound utilizes a unique blend of psychology and technology to offer quick and accurate personalized career, education, and life recommendations.”


Maryland Funding for the Arts Looking Up

In a move that offers hope and excitement, the Maryland State Arts Council has awarded a 16% increase in state arts funding for fiscal 2014. They just awarded close to $13 million to local arts organizations which will support 254 arts organizations and programs. It will also assist arts councils in Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Association Inc. received $1.79 million, Center Stage received $489,657 and Walters Art Museum received $894,208. The Maryland State Arts Council budget was restored to its pre-recession levels and Governor Martin O’Malley approved of these grants. Many smaller artists and organizations will benefit from this money as well.

Certainly an indication that things are looking up for the arts in Maryland in the coming year.

National Aquarium : Well Worth the Wait

If you can’t wait for the National Aquarium to open – you’ll have to wait a bit longer. The grand opening of the Blacktip Reef exhibit which was set for July 10th has been postponed.

CEO John Racanelli explained that 1200 animals will live in the display eventually, but that they need extra time to help the animals to acclimate. On Tuesday, the aquarium will put the 500 pound sea turtle Calypso to the 260,000 gallon tank. In late July, the blacktip reef sharks will also be introduced.

The aquarium is planning to reschedule the grand opening for early August, rather than the original plan of July 10th. The exhibit should be open for full enjoyment at that time, and should be well worth the $12.5 million spent on it.

Foreman Wolf Opening Sixth Restaurant in Columbia

Cindy WolfIf you love the Columbia waterfront, then you may want to take note. Foreman Wolf, one of Baltimore’s most well known and respected restaurant groups, is about to open a sixth restaurant. This one will be in Columbia and will be their first restaurant outside the city limits of Baltimore.

They just signed a 10 year lease for a 6,943 square foot space on the first floor at the Exhibit Building on Columbia’s Lakefront. This location formerly housed Red Pearl. The building’s developer, Howard Hughes Corp., just announced the agreement on Monday.

Foreman Wold includes partners Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf. Their many other restaurants include: Charleston, Cinghiale, Pazo, Petit Louis Bistro, BIN 604 Wine Sellers, BIN 201 Wine Sellers and Johnny’s.


Fashion Trucks Making the Rounds in Baltimore

fashn-stop-1 304Next lunch break, you just might have time to squeeze in a bit of shopping right outside your door. The newest trend in shopping is the fashion truck and it’s come to Baltimore. The founder and former owner of the White House Black Market, Rick Sarmiento, has now opened FashN Stop. It includes two trucks that are filled with clothes and are cruising around Annapolis, Baltimore, Bethesda and Rockville.

FashN Stop offers a wide range of women’s clothing with brand names including Rock Revival, Vintage Havana and Mata Traders. As the Urban Pearl owner, Lyn Boone, said, “I think there’s a real interest in Baltimore and the Harford County area for new and trendy clothing. There’s a big market here because there’s not much to choose from clothing-wise.”

There are certainly some obstacles to overcome, as the trucks have to get permits for selling and parking. Time will tell how this new idea does – but for now it’s creating interest with its unique idea.

Maryland Historical Society: Worth the Trip

One of the gems in Baltimore is the Maryland Historical Society. They have rare documents located here at 201 W. Monument Street with many of the pieces kept in special cases for all to admire.

For anyone who enjoys profiles in history, like historian Nat Shapell, the “Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics is a site to behold at this location. Authored by Francis Scott Key, and containing actual cross-out errors in the first line, the document can be admired and enjoyed at the Historical Society.

As David McDonald of visitor services said,  “It’s the only copy we are aware of in Key’s hand.”

If you don’t get to the museum in 2013, you’ll have to follow the document to the Smithsonian where it will be on loan in 2014. The loan coincides with the document’s 200th birthday and it will be displayed next to the flag that Key saw and was inspired by on September 14th, 1814.

In addition to this lovely piece, the Historical Society has 2000 paintings, 4000 pieces of silverware and an exhibit at the moment on Napoleon’s sister-in-law. The profiles in history are lovely and certainly worth a peak.


Baltimore Law Firms Make the American Lawyers Survey List

If you’re looking to join one of the top revenue-generating law firms in the country, look no further than Baltimore. The 2013 American Lawyers annual survey of the top 100 firms just presented its findings and showed that DLA Piper is the nation’s number one revenue-generating law firm.

DLA is the second-biggest law firm in Baltimore with over 140 lawyers. Their gross revenue is $2.44 billion.

There were five other firms that have offices in Baltimore that also made the list. These include Hogan Lovells at 7th place with $1.63 billion; McGuireWoods at 51st place with $599.5 million; Duane Morris at 70th place with $420.5 million; Venable at 76th place with $376 million; and Jackson Lewis at 82nd place with $352 million.

Frank Storch Authors Keep Your School Safe Guide

Many businesses in the Baltimore area look at the bottom line and at the profit margin. Some people and businesses, however, are more concerned about helping others, and this is true for Frank Storch. The founder of The Chesed Fund and Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore Inc., Frank Storch is a Security Consultant and Coordinator for CERT in Baltimore. He is also, most recently, the author of a guide to help Jewish schools to review and tighten their security measures.

This guide, called Keep Your School Safe, will be sent to all Jewish schools in North America in the near future. It is a comprehensive guide that allows schools to evaluate which safety measures they already have in place and which they should be added. It can be downloaded for free online and offers an easy-to-use audit and step-by-step safety measures that schools can implement.

As Frank Storch explains in an introduction to the guide, “We were all shocked by the horrific tragedy that took place in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This incident, along with the more recent Boston Marathon terror attack, calls attention to our schools’ crucial responsibility to protect our children.

Based on over 35 years of hands-on safety and security consulting experience, and my role as Coordinator of the Northern Park Heights CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), I believe that every school can benefit from re-evaluating and updating its safety and security measures. This is due to the constantly changing nature of outside threats, the increasing availability of new equipment and methods, and the need for staff and students to be up to date on their safety and security training. In this light, I present this “Keep Your School Safe” guide.”

New Look for Baltimore Grand Prix

The Baltimore Grand Prix is getting a face-lift. Their old slogan, “Festival of Speed” is out the door, and they are welcoming a new slogan, “Celebration of Acceleration.”

Their new tagline is, as they explain, part of a “new look and feel” that the race has just unveiled. The Grand Prix is also planning to roll out a new website for the race and a new logo that is in the works at the Baltimore advertising agency Mission Media together with Race On LLC.

As Debbie Bell, the VP of Sales and Marketing for Race On explained, “Our Celebration of Acceleration tagline perfectly captures the spirit of the event, and our redesigned website is the ideal platform to keep fans up to speed on Grand Prix details as they are announced.”

The Grand Prix of Baltimore will take place from August 30 to September 1 through the streets of downtown Baltimore. The new website will have articles about drivers, news about the race and updates, among other exciting information.

InvestMaryland Challenge Narrows to 9

The winning companies from the InvestMaryland Challenge will each receive $100,000 in prizes and $125,000 in cash as part of the Maryland Venture Fund’s first business competition. The winning companies will be announced on April 15. InvestMaryland is a state venture capital initiative managed by DBED and the Maryland Venture Fund. They managed to raise $84 million in 2012 with a tax credit auction with the explicit purpose of investing in start-up companies.

The three categories for the competition include IT, life sciences and general business. The finalists, narrowed from an impressive list of 259 entries include:

• IT

  • ClickMedix, Rockville
  • RedOwl Analytics, Baltimore
  • Social Toaster, Baltimore

• Life sciences

  • BOSS Medical, Baltimore
  • Graybug, Baltimore
  • Remedium Technologies, College Park

• General business

  • i-Lighting, North East
  • Mercaris, Silver Spring
  • Triea Systems, Bethesda