MedStar Health, MED-IQ Announce Partnership

The Med-IQ Quality Improvement Institute has joined forces with Columbia-based MedStar Health, the largest health care provider in Maryland and Washington, D.C., to address unrecognized chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among the baby boomer population. Expanding Success: Improving Alignment With Birth Cohort-Based HCV Testing and Linkage to Care is an expansion of an award-winning quality improvement (QI) initiative designed to facilitate the identification of HCV infection in alignment with current clinical practice guidelines.

Although the CDC issued guidance in 2012 for a one-time HCV test for all persons born between 1945 and 1965, numerous barriers to timely identification exist. In response, Med-IQ launched its first HCV QI initiative in 2013 in partnership with Duke University to evaluate testing patterns among baby boomer patients. This led to the development of a framework for continual evaluation of HCV testing patterns and facilitation of better alignment with guidelines related to identifying patients and linking patients with initial positive screening test results to appropriate care.

This initiative has been expanded into 15 primary care centers in the greater Washington-Baltimore area. It will conduct reviews of current practice patterns, offer a series of educational activities and distribute patient education resources developed by nationally recognized public health agencies.

HCC, HTC Embarking on TechHire Community Initiative

Howard Community College (HCC) and the Howard Tech Council (HTC) are partnering as a new TechHire community to train individuals and create pathways to access jobs in technology fields, including computer science, information technology, cybersecurity and computer forensics.

With this initiative, Howard County becomes one of 20 new communities announced Thursday at a Washington, D.C., event, and joins a national network of 71 TechHire communities across the country to help overlooked and underrepresented Americans start technology careers.

The collaboration is part of President Barack Obama’s TechHire Initiative, a campaign to expand local tech sectors by building tech talent pipelines in communities across the country. All TechHire communities go through an intensive and competitive application process to demonstrate their commitment and readiness in expanding the technology sector.

Howard County’s TechHire initiative will leverage an apprenticeship model, whereby trainees can participate in on-the-job learning with the more than 200 regional employers that participate. By 2020, the initiative aims to train and place 800 individuals, with an emphasis on long-term unemployed, minorities and the military.

Village of Long Reach Named Sustainable Community by Maryland DHCD

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced that the Village of Long Reach in Columbia has been awarded a Sustainable Community designation, based on an application submitted last June by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ). Working in collaboration with the Long Reach Village Board, the Howard County Council, Columbia Association, business owners and others, the county sought the designation to increase opportunities for revitalization and reinvestment in Long Reach.

The Sustainable Communities program emphasizes public and private investments and partnerships to support community growth, revitalization and reinvestment in older communities. This includes fostering a healthy local economy, green infrastructure, mix of land uses, sustainable housing, walkability and recreational opportunities. Obtaining the sustainable community designation, which lasts five years, opens eligibility for state programs and resources, such as Neighborhood BusinessWorks, Community Legacy and the Strategic Demolition Fund. The designation also enhances competitiveness for state programs, such as Maryland Bikeways.

Long Reach’s 30-page application was developed by a Sustainable Communities Workgroup with representatives from DPZ, the Department of Public Works, Office of Transportation, Office of Community Sustainability, Economic Development Authority, Housing Commission, Columbia Association, Columbia Art Center, Long Reach Village Board and staff, Long Reach High School and area business owners. The workgroup will now help identify funding options, pursue resources and guide implementation of the Sustainable Community Action Plan.

Howard County Selects PACE Financial as Commercial Program Manager

The Howard County government has announced that PACE Financial Servicing (PFS) has been selected as the county’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program manager. PACE is an affordable way for commercial, industrial and nonprofit building owners to pay for energy improvements.

Through PACE, these property owners secure no-down-payment, low-interest loans from private lenders. The loans are repaid to the county as an additional assessment on property taxes over 20 years; the county then forwards the payment to the lender to satisfy the loan. The program is administered with minimal cost to the county.

PACE has been adopted in 10 Maryland counties and the City of Baltimore, and is also active in 15 states. PFS will host a Lender’s Roundtable on Wednesday, Jan. 18, and a Contractor’s Training session will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 8, with times and locations to be determined. For more information, visit, call 443-910-4932 or email [email protected].

NFIB Statement on Gov. Hogan’s Mandatory Paid Leave Proposal

In response to Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement regarding paid sick leave, the following statement was issued by National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Maryland State Director Mike O’Halloran.

“Anytime a new mandate is introduced, it gives the small business community reason to be alarmed. That being said, we certainly appreciate the efforts by the Administration to address concerns expressed by the business community when considering this proposal. The Governor’s common-sense approach to this issue fares much better than the legislation passed by the House of Delegates during the 2016 session. If the legislature is intent on passing a paid sick leave bill, we hope they will consider the Governor’s proposal as it provides much-needed protections for the small business community.

“It is incumbent upon lawmakers considering mandatory paid leave in any form to understand that increasing regulations and mandates on employers will result in fewer jobs in Maryland. Additionally, our members feel strongly that offering paid leave to entice employees is a decision that should be left up to individual businesses, not legislated. Tax relief for job creators often paying taxes as pass-through entities is certainly something that we support, but we hope such relief will stand on its own merit without the need to pass a mandate onto businesses.”

State Horse Industry Grows 23%, Provides More Than $1.15B in Economic Impact

A new economic impact study of the Maryland horse industry shows that Maryland horse farming brings in more than $1.15 billion in economic activity a year, which is 23% higher than the $930 million it generated in 2010. The survey findings were announced at a news conference held at Goucher College in Towson. Speaking at the announcement were Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Joe Bartenfelder, secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture and José Antonio Bowen, president of Goucher College.

Top survey findings by Sage show that the Maryland horse industry supports approximately 5,800 full-time jobs across Maryland (9,100 by including indirect full-time equivalent positions), with nearly a half a billion dollars in wage and salary income.

KinderMender Celebrates 200,000 Patients

About 17 months have passed since KinderMender celebrated its 100,000th patient visit in June 2015. In November, the pediatric urgent care center officially doubled that tally, as KinderMender’s 200,000th patient passed through its doors: a 3-year-old who arrived at the pediatric facility with a bead stuck in his nose.

The full-service, walk-in center is the creation of Dr. Keyvan Rafei, who opened the Columbia office in 2011. Rapid growth led to the opening of a Laurel location in 2013, followed by a Glen Burnie clinic in 2015.

J.D. Power Surveys Rates Baltimore-Washington Airports in Top 20

The three major Baltimore-Washington area airports ranked in the Top 20 in the recently released J.D. Power 2016 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, with Washington Reagan National Airport at No. 9, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport at No. 15 — up from No. 22 last year — and Washington Dulles Airport staying at No. 20 for the second consecutive year.

The rise in the listing by BWI Marshall is attributed to upgrades in infrastructure and retail offerings. Portland International Airport, in Oregon, topped the list for large airports. Now in its 11th year, the study measures overall traveler satisfaction with large and medium-sized North American airports by examining six factors: terminal facilities; airport accessibility; security check; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

BGE Marks Milestones With Smart Energy Savers Program

BGE recently marked two milestones since the start of its Smart Energy Savers Program in 2009. First, BGE customers have bought more than 25 million energy-saving LED and CFL lightbulbs, saving nearly $40 million at the checkout counter with instant discounts. Second, BGE has performed 200,000 Quick Home Energy Check-Ups in its service area, helping customers better understand their homes’ energy use and suggesting ways to save money.

“Even simple changes, like switching to a more efficient light bulb, can result in major savings for customers,” said Chris Walls, manager of BGE’s residential energy efficiency programs. BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program offers instant discounts up to $7 off select LEDs, and up to $2.25 off select CFLs. LEDs and CFLs use 70–90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and last 10 to 25 times longer. More than 200 lighting retailers in central Maryland currently participate in the discounted program.

Williams Asset Management Cited by the Sun

Williams Asset Management, of Columbia, was awarded first place in the financial adviser category in the Baltimore Sun’s “Best of Howard” contest. It marked the second consecutive year Williams Asset Management has won the award.

The “Best of Howard” readers’ poll has been a popular feature of Howard Magazine, a publication of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, for more than 20 years. More than 15,000 people cast their votes in 2016. The contest is divided into 74 categories, and one winner and up to three honorable mentions for each category are determined by popular vote.

Thomas Brings Caring Transitions to Columbia, Western Suburbs

Columbia-based Brenda Thomas has opened Caring Transitions, which operates from Columbia, Clarksville and Western County.

Caring Transitions is America’s largest resource for managing senior relocations, as well as downsizing and estate liquidations. In addition to organizing, packing, decluttering, moving and resettling, Caring Transitions handles estate sales, liquidations and preparing homes for market.

The Squires Group Among Baltimore’s Top Workplaces

The Annapolis-based Squires Group (TSG) has been awarded a 2016 Top Workplaces honor by the Baltimore Sun. The list is based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including alignment, execution and connection.

“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day — the employees? Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together.”

BGH Again Among ‘Best Accounting Firms to Work For’

The certified public accounting firm of Bormel, Grice & Huyett (BGH) was named one of the 2016 Best Accounting Firms to Work For. BGH was number 28 on the annual list, which was created by Accounting Today Magazine and Best Companies Group.

This survey and award program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in the accounting industry, benefiting the nation’s economy, workforce and businesses. The list includes 100 CPA firms nationwide.

Vantage House Named a ‘Top Workplace’ by the Sun

Vantage House, in Columbia, has been named one of the top places to work in the Baltimore region by the Baltimore Sun. The senior living community was founded in Downtown Columbia in 1990 and is a nonprofit, serving people 60 and older.

Employee surveys were conducted by WorkplaceDynamics on behalf of the Sun to identify the 10 large employers, 25 mid-size employers and 65 small employers deserving of recognition. Vantage House, which has 172 employees, was ranked 16th among the mid-size employers.

Convergence Continues Expansion With Panthera

Convergence Technology Consulting, of Columbia, and Panthera Technologies, of Owings Mills, have announced a strategic joint venture that enhances Panthera’s capability offerings, while considerably expanding Convergence’s managed services expertise. The new partnership is expected to deliver innovative, cost-controlled, scalable solutions that are missing in today’s mid-size and large technology services firms.

The partnership leverages the two companies’ respective strengths across three key areas: by offering a full array of services to include infrastructure architecture and management, cybersecurity, full-managed services, wireless and networking, application and web development and CIO/CISO services; accelerating growth nationwide; and delivering a unique blend of product and services that are designed to meet the clients’ requirements.

J. Melvin to Host Artists’ Gallery on March 3

J. Melvin Premier Properties, which reopened its doors in post-flood Historic Ellicott City on Dec. 3, has invited Artists’ Gallery, also new to Ellicott City, to exhibit artwork in a show that will run until March 3. On Friday, Jan. 13, there will be an opening reception with wine and cheese at the third-floor office of J. Melvin’s, at 8137 Main Street, from 6–8 p.m.

J. Melvin is a boutique real estate brokerage with a strong community base. The company renovated the Washington Trust Companies Building, previously occupied by Vintage Vault, and will continue the tradition of maintaining a space for art for the enrichment of its clients and the community at large. The show spans a broad spectrum of styles and media that include oil, watercolor, pastel, photography and collage. More member artists’ work can be seen at Artists’ Gallery, 8197 Main Street, Ellicott City.

AHCC Formed to Boost Latino Construction Community

Karen Barbour and Vanessa Lopez, of The Barbour Group, and Veronica Cool of Cool & Associates, have launched The Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors (AHCC). Latinos are establishing businesses at 15 times the national average, particularly in the construction industry, yet these firms remain small and with limited access. Recognizing the need to connect and engage Latinos to the mainstream construction community, Barbour, Lopez and Cool established the AHCC to serve as a link between the two communities.

“Forming the Alliance is a perfect match of our skill sets — with Veronica’s connections to the Hispanic community, Vanessa’s accounting experience and my expertise in surety bonding — we can help strengthen relationships between the Hispanic construction community and the mainstream construction entities,” said Barbour, founder and president of AHCC.