Chick-fil-A Comes to Baltimore

SandWitch-mainIf you love Chick-fil-A then get ready to enjoy it in Baltimore. The first city store is scheduled to arrive in April. The construction is already underway at the Canton Crossing shopping center along Boston Street in Southeast Baltimore.

The restaurant is expected to employ 80 people. You’ll certainly want to get your place in line on opening day and pay attention for this. Chick-fil-A will celebrate their opening by giving away a one-year supply of free meals to the first 100 adults who are in line on the opening day.

The shopping center where the Chick-fil-A will be is 99% leased and already includes Mission BBQ, Samos Greek Island Grill and Red Robin.

Baltimore Building Near Federal Hill

South Baltimore is getting a facelift as a local development group has announced plans to convert an old warehouse into 60 upscale apartments. This joint venture, between Poverni Ventures LLC and Management Restoration Service LLC, will include spending about $10 million to turn the building into Heath Street Lofts. Construction is set to begin in the spring and to be completed for fall 2015.

The property sits near Federal Hill, which is a popular area for the city’s young professionals. Eugene Poverni, the principal and founder of Poverni Ventures, said that a one-bedroom apartment at an average size of 750 square feet will start at about $1350. Two bedroom apartments will cost closer to $1650 with about 1000 square feet. Renters will enjoy on-site parking, a gym, 24 hour front desk assistance and a rooftop deck.

Baltimore Business Journal Honoring Outstanding Directors

Be part of the excitement at the Four Seasons Baltimore when the Baltimore Business Journal recognizes the 2014 Outstanding Directors. This black-tie VIP reception will honor board directors who have given exceptional service to boards and companies that they serve.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 6, 2014 from 6-9 pm at the Four Seasons Baltimore.

Honorees will include:

Andrew Bertamini, Regional President for Maryland Region, Wells Fargo
Patricia Florestano, Member, University System of Maryland Board of Regents
Aris Melissaratos, Executive in Residence, Senior Advisor, Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business
Robert Kimmons, Division Vice President & Corporate EEO Officer, Whiting-Turner
Barry Bondoff, Officer, Gorfine, Schiller and Gardyn PA
Joe Sullivan, CEO, Legg Mason, Board Chair Loyola Blakefield School
Linda Jones, Esq., Gallagher Evelius & Jones, Board Chair Health Care for the Homeless
Gary Geisel, Board Chair, Saint Agnes Healthcare

Education Tech Company Relocates from NY to Baltimore

In an interesting move, Citelighter is moving from New York to Baltimore and joining a growing group of education technology companies. Saad Alam, the education tech company’s CEO and the co-founder already made the move in October. The other five New York employees will be following him to Baltimore in either February or March.

Alam and his co-founder Lee Jokl explain that they are moving as a result of the attraction of Baltimore’s education tech companies and in the hopes that investors in Baltimore will be interested in putting money in them.

As Alam said, while at a meeting in Baltimore to pitch his company to the Baltimore Angels group, “They’re creating a community that is changing the face of Baltimore. Something very special is happening here in Baltimore.”

The Citelighter focus is on a technology that allows students to organize and access materials for writing papers. Their technology also enables teachers to track student progress before they turn in their work. They currently have 12 employees, including some who work remotely and won’t be relocating. They have already attracted $850,000 in funding from angel investors in their first round of funding. They are currently in the middle of their second capital raise to bring in another $1.2 million.

UberX for Faster and Better Service

uberxBaltimore just got another type of taxi service and it’s one that might be worth checking out. UberX is a companion service to Uber Black, which was launched in Baltimore last year as an upscale car service. The way that UberX works is that you request a car from your mobile device and can then pay automatically with a credit card they have on file. And, this new service is supposed to be cheaper than a taxi.

With UberX, you’ll be escorted in a hybrid or a mid-range car and you’ll pay a base fare of $3 plus additional charges per mile or per minute depending on the speed of the car.


It’s certainly worth checking out UberX is you’re a remotely tech savvy traveler who wants a better way to go.




Forbes List of Best States for Business in the US

Every year, Forbes puts out a list that shows the best states in the US for business. This year, Maryland ranked number 18, down two spots from 2012. Maryland ranks ahead of Oregon, which was 19th, and just behind Kansas, with was 17th.

As Forbes explained,  “Our study looks at six important factors for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.”

For those interested in knowing the number one spot for businesses – Virginia had the honors this year. They ranked number one on the list from 2006 to 2009 and then slipped to number 2 for 2010-2012. They’ve regained their number one ranking again this year.

North Dakota took the second spot as a result of the Bakken oil shale fields and Utah came in third.

As Forbes explained, “The biggest gainer this year is Minnesota, which jumped 12 spots to No. 8 on the strength of an improved economic outlook…Minnesota has the second highest percentage of adults with a high school degree at 92.5%. With its good schools, low poverty rate and healthy population, the state also scores well on quality of life measurements.

Wyoming had the biggest fall, down eight places to No. 23. The nation’s least populous state ranks sixth best for business costs, but the economy has slowed and is expected to expand at just a 1.5% annual clip through 2017, worst in the U.S.”



Conscious Venture Lab Forming in Howard County

Howard County is thinking about the future. And they are doing so by creating a new incubator that would help companies with a socially conscious focus to develop and grow. The new program is called the Conscious Venture Lab. It’s a partnership between Howard County and the Porter Group LLC which is based in New York. They plan to house the incubator in the county’s Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.

As Ken Ulman, County Executive, recent said, “I just really believe there is a place for companies that want to generate significant profit but also have a mission of giving back to the community in some way.”

The Porter Group is a small investment bank and they are the ones that developed the Conscious Venture Lab. With their agreement with Howard County, they will launch a venture fund that would invest as much as $25,000 in each company that comes to the incubator. Howard County has put aside a total of $800,000 over the next two years for the program

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.