Offshore Wind Bill Passes Senate in Maryland

Environmental groups are hailing the recent passage in the Senate of an offshore wind bill that was pushed by Governor Martin O’Malley. The Senate approved O’Malley’s Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, Senate Bill 275, by a margin of 30-15. The bill will now head back to the House to reconcile some minor details and will head to O’Malley for a signature.

The passage of the bill will make Maryland the first state in the mid-Atlantic to have an offshore wind farm. The bill will impose a $1.50 per month surcharge on Maryland utility bills to help with the subsidizing of the wind farm. Republicans in the General Assembly and some business groups, however, say that the utility surcharges will put too much of a burden for paying for the alternative energy onto consumers and small-business owners.

Mike Tidwell, the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network said, “This bill is to offshore wind power in the mid-Atlantic what the early railroads were to American transportation.  It’s a driver of innovation that will create jobs, enhance our economy, improve public health and protect the climate.”

James Beard Long List Includes Baltimore Hot Spots

The initial list for the James Beard award has been announced, and a few anxious Baltimore businesses are excited to be part of the group. The initial list, which is dubbed the “long list” of semifinalists includes Pabu, a new Japanese restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore. It is on the list as one of the “best new restaurant” choices.

Owner and chef at Woodberry Kitchen is up for the award again for the “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” and also for “Outstanding Bar Program.”

Another nominee for the best chef is Baltimore’s Cindy Wolf from Charleston. Charleston is also a semifinalist for “Outstanding Wine Program”

The prestigious James Beard award was named for the cookbook author and teacher who was a champion of American cuisine.

For a full list of the semifinalists check here. The awards gala and reception will be on May 6 at the Avery Fischer Hall in Lincoln Center, NYC.

Zarsha Leo Hits the Inner Harbor

Baltimore has recently gotten a new addition to the line-up of bars and restaurants along the Inner Harbor and it’s setting tongues wagging. Zarsha Leo, a restaurant-bar franchise based in NYC has recently set down roots in Baltimore. While their glittery exterior and their rows of flat-screen television sets don’t set them apart from any of the other restaurants or bars around, CEO Evan Burschkopf explains that they are in a different class.

As Burschkopf said at the opening, “We understand that Baltimore has its own flavor and needs and we plan to meet those. We will be featuring an artist from Baltimore each month at Zarsha Leo and will also have an athlete of the month coming to join us on Sunday nights.”

We’ll have to wait and see if it takes off – and if Burschkopf’s promises will ring true with the crows in Baltimore.

Baltimore Benefiting from Super Bowl Fever

Certainly, Super Bowl Sunday is good for business. But even the weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday are good for business if you’re a business in the town where one of the teams hails.

And this is exactly what Baltimore businesses are finding at the moment, as the Baltimore Ravens prepare for kickoff.

Mother’s Federal Hill Grille, for instance, has seen a 30-50% increase in business during the Raven’s three playoff games. Owner Dave Rather said that the rise is mostly due to customers buying celebration drinks. As Rather said,  “The Ravens games are the busiest days all year long, so the playoffs are like having your busiest day four times over,” Rather said.

Alcohol distribution companies are also doing better. As Angelo Picillo, a rep for the Republic National Distributing Company said, “I’m making a lot more money this month. I’m up 50 percent from last year… We’re just killing it.” The most popular product Picillo is selling? Purple Three Olives Vodka.

Xavier Dandridge, manager of The Sports Shop in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, also said that his sales on clothing have been up. With Ray Lewis retiring after this year’s Super Bowl, Dandridge said that his jerseys have been “flying off the shelf.”

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13 Baltimore Hot Shots to Watch for 2013

The Baltimore Business Journal just recently covered the 13 people that they think should be watched for 2013. Here is an interesting list of the 13 that they deem important to watch in the year ahead.

The list includes: Brian Strumke, Stillwater Artisanal Ales; Rebecca Pearce, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange; Paul Palmieri, Millennial Media; Chad Barnhill, Horseshoe Baltimore; Brenda McKenzie , Baltimore Development Corp.; Laura Gamble, PNC and others.

Learn more about each of these interesting people for 2013 at The Baltimore Business Journal and keep your eyes out in the year ahead.

Baltimore Mayor Gives Out Business Awards

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake just handed out awards to ten impressive businesses in the Baltimore area. The Mayor’s Awards honored these businesses for giving back to the community during tough economic times.  This year’s awards were given to:

Ballard Spahr LLP for cleaning up and improving the Reservoir Hill community and for pro bono legal services.

BB&T where 450 employees all involved themselves in fundraising activities to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The Brick Cos for its year round employee volunteer work for the Ronald McDonald House.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, for its Mother and Child Health initiative, which donated $3 million to support “B’more for Healthy Babies.”

Comcast, for investing more than $770,000 and for the impressive community service work that the employees have done.

Domino Sugar for the volunteer work that their employees have done with Our Daily Brea, the Locust Point Festival, Share Our Strength, “Blue Water Baltimore,” and the “Year-Up” program.

EMD Sales, Inc., where the employees partnered with two charitable and religious-based organizations.

KPMG LLP, for funding and working with Beta Alpha Psi volunteers. They helped to launch the “Project Homeless Connect” event.

M.C. Dean, for providing greater access to job training opportunities for Baltimore residents through a state-of-the-art apprentice and training program.

McGladrey LLP, for offering employees time during their business hours to participate in firm-sponsored community service activities.

SunTrust Bank, for its major investments in POWER House.

Wells Fargo Bank, where more than 70 employee volunteers.

New Loans Available for Small Businesses in Baltimore

If you’re a small business in Baltimore, you’ll certainly want to take note. In recent news, Baltimore just announced a new loan program for small Baltimore businesses. The program is called the BaltimoreMICRO and it will offer loans of $5000-$30,000 to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue and with a personal credit score of at least 650.

As Rawlings-Blake said in the press release for the new loan program, “Baltimore’s neighborhoods that have experienced growth and revival in the past few years are known not only for their unique homes and character, but also for their small businesses, including stores and restaurants. They bring residents together and create a buzz that attracts people from throughout the region. We want that to happen in more of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and we must do what we can to support that.”

The loan is being administered through the Baltimore Development Corporation and is funded with a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and with $125,000 in assistance from the city.

Maryland Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Philanthropic Companies

On Friday, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Baltimore Business Journal recognized three companies for their philanthropies. They handed out the awards at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Maryland Chapter Philanthropy Day Luncheon that took place at the Marriot Waterfront in Baltimore.

The Hartman Executive Advisors in Columbia were given the small employer winner for their philanthropic efforts. They host an annual day of service where their employees and families collaborate for charitable work.

Dataprise won the award for the midsize employer. They support St. Luke’s House, Community of Hope, SOS Children’s Village and others.

The winners of the large employer award were the American Sugar Refining (Domino Sugar) company. They support charities like Our Daily Bread, Make-A-Wish, Blue Water Baltimore and others.

Others who were honored include Edward St. John as the 2012 Outstanding Philanthropist, W. P. Carey Foundation as the 2012 Outstanding Foundation and Betsy Nelson for the Community Impact Award.

Jewish Communities Support Hurricane Sandy Recovery

Jewish organizations across the East Coast are rallying behind the Hurricane Sandy victims. They are providing emergency appliances such as flashlights, batteries, freezers and even generators, as well as offering law-related services and cleanup staffs.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has begun working on insurance issues, helping storm victims rebuild their lives, according to Emergency Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America Chair Cheryl Fishbein.

“We’re pulling together, recognizing that people have really been demolished,” she said. “The entire community- religious, not religious, left to right, Chabad and secular, synagogues, organizations- everybody is under the tent, a tent that stretches as big as it can possibly be. People need to know we’re out there, checking on one another, making sure everyone is safe.”

Alex Budnitsky, Executive Director of Marks Jewish Community House, added:

“I applaud the efforts of the volunteers of the community. The response is unprecedented. People of all ages from all over Brooklyn have given their time, energy, knowledge, language skills and more to make sure care is taken of everybody from seniors to kids.”

Many Jewish organizations from outside New York sent teams to help residents and small businesses get back on their feet in city’s vicinity. Frank Storch arrived from Baltimore, bringing with him volunteers from The Chesed Fund and CERT, as well as five truckloads of emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries and 120 generators. Many other groups teamed up to form the Emergency Sandy Chesed. Managed by Chevra Hatzalah, the effort includes the local Hatzolah groups, Shomrim, Misaskim, Chaverim and more.

Praise for Waste Management from Wildlife Habitat Council

Recently, in Baltimore, the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) announced that Waste Management has added eight new WHC certifications. The announcements were made during the 24th Annual Symposium called Working for a Greener World.

As Margaret O’Gorman, WHC President said, “WHC members continue to raise the bar for conservation success. We connect corporations, conservation and community to create habitat and increase biodiversity. The projects being honored today are the best examples of our model at work. Congratulations to Waste Management for its successful efforts towards habitat enhancement and biodiversity.”

As Waste Management President and CEO David Steiner weighed in, “Waste Management first began working with WHC because our employees wanted to get involved and this organization helped us do that. Our relationship has turned into one that truly benefits Waste Management and its communities. Through the WHC programs we feel we are making a difference as a trusted and valued partner to our customers and communities.”