I.M.P. Signs 40-Year Lease to Operate Merriweather
As Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, the nonprofit that acquired the venue last fall, has inked a 40-year lease with long-time promoter I.M.P.
In 2004, Howard County tapped I.M.P., the Bethesda-based company that owns the 9:30 Club, in Washington, D.C., to take over operations of Merriweather. Each year since, I.M.P. has made improvements, ranging from adding fanciful art to improving the food options to environmental sustainability. After the improvements, Rolling Stone magazine recognized the Pavilion as being among the best amphitheaters in the nation.
Today, I.M.P. is three years into a five-year, $55 million renovation plan. Already complete is the new box office, concessions, restrooms, stage expansion (to a 62-foot grid height, 82-foot-wide Brazilian Redwood floor, with 48-foot spinning turntable insert enabling five-minute set-changes), lighting and nearly 15,000 square feet of dressing rooms and backstage amenities.
The new backstage is designed to resemble a motel, complete with a pool, including a smaller private pool for the ever-increasing needs of touring artists’ for family time. Numerous rooms, lobby and lounging areas, plus multiple side-stage private viewing platforms, are also part of the upgrades.
Schuh Announces $5M Transfer to Avoid Teacher Furloughs
Continuing with his commitment to ensuring a stronger educational system in Anne Arundel County, County Executive Steve Schuh has announced a $5 million plan to keep Anne Arundel County Public School’s (AACPS) health care benefits fund solvent, avoiding possible teacher furloughs between now and June.
“As we work with the school system and the state of Maryland to address the structural deficit in AACPS’ health care benefits fund, this investment will ensure the fund can keep paying claims and ensure the AACPS can avoid teacher furloughs during the current fiscal year, which ends July 1,” said Schuh. “We committed last June to doing what we could to assist the school system if needed, and this is the next piece in a multi-step plan to ensure we can fix the school health care funding crisis once and for all.”
“We knew a year ago that restoring structural stability to our health care fund would be a complex process,” Board of Education President Stacy Korbelak said. “We did not get here on our own, nor can we fix this issue alone. In addition to our successful efforts to renegotiate our contract with our insurance provider, we need and value the persistent collaboration between the school system, our unions, the county executive, and the county council to ensure a healthy self-insured fund going forward.”
Last year, Schuh and the school system requested — and the Maryland State Department of Education and the county council approved — a plan to invest $10 million in non-recurring funds in fiscal 2017 to help ensure the school system’s health care fund remained solvent.
The plan also involved the county and AACPS agreeing to treat various one-time costs designated outside Maryland’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirement, a practice routinely used by other jurisdictions around the state. The Maryland State Board of Education approved Anne Arundel County’s MOE waiver in April 2016, and the county council approved the plan in its final budget adoption in June 2016.
The county and AACPS are working with the state to enact a multi-year plan to address the health care fund crisis in the fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 budgets. The county executive’s $5 million fund transfer legislation is expected to be submitted to the county council in May.
Reed Cordish Among Senior White House Staff
Before taking office, President Donald Trump named Reed Cordish as assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives. Cordish is a principal and partner of The Cordish Companies, the international real estate development and entertainment company that owns Maryland Live! Casino.
He is also president of Entertainment Consulting International, a national entertainment and restaurant operating company he co-founded. During Trump’s transition period, Cordish directed the Agency Beachhead teams for the president-elect.
In his current position, Cordish is responsible for presidential initiatives that require multi-agency collaboration. In addition, he will focus on technological innovation and modernization. He has been tasked with cooperating with Chris Liddell, who leads the Strategic Development Group that focuses on priority projects, to form and oversee a series of high impact task forces.
“I am humbled by the role and excited to work with the incredible people within the West Wing and the agencies to effect change,” Cordish said.
Merkle Cited at Adobe Summit, Subsidiary Recognized by IBM
Columbia-based Merkle, a technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, has been awarded the Adobe 2016 Emerging Partner of the Year, Americas. This honor was recently presented to Merkle during Partner Day at the Adobe Summit, in Las Vegas.
As an Adobe Global Alliance Partner with an industry vertical approach and specialized status in Adobe Campaign, Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Analytics, Merkle enables brands to turn their Adobe Marketing Cloud investments into precisely-tailored customer experiences.
Merkle recently launched the Merkle Innovation Cloud (MIC), a rapid prototyping environment that brings to life user experiences on the Adobe Marketing Cloud, targeted with Merkle people-based data.
In addition, Merkle announced that Comet Global Consulting, a Merkle company, has been recognized as the Outstanding Marketing Business Partner of the Year. The award was presented to Comet at the IBM Amplify 2017 conference at MGM Grand, also in Las Vegas. As an IBM partner since 2009, Comet Global Consulting was recognized for driving customer value from IBM’s marketing technologies.
Kittleman Announces FY 2018
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced two important projects to be included in his proposed fiscal 2018 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget.
At a press conference in the Columbia Gateway Business Park, Kittleman outlined plans to create the Howard County Innovation Center in the county-owned Gateway Building. He also announced plans to create a Community Resources Campus to further consolidate human services.
Under Kittleman’s plan, the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE), which houses 24 startup companies, will relocate to the Gateway Building, which is home to the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA). HCEDA operates the MCE, now located six miles away in a facility isolated from other businesses and amenities.
Last month, Kittleman announced his plan to transform the 920-acre Gateway Business Park in the heart of Columbia into an Innovation District over the next decade. Relocating the MCE to Gateway is one of the first tangible steps in establishing the district, he said.
Kittleman’s second announcement involved moving four community-service- based agencies out of the Gateway Building to a new Community Resources Campus four miles away off Patuxent Woods Drive, accessible through public transportation.
Anne Arundel County Reaches
All-Time Jobs Record
According to recent data made available by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Anne Arundel County employers reported 270,103 jobs in the third quarter of 2016, an all-time high job count. Of that total, 223,844 were in the private sector (all industries), and 46,259 jobs were counted within the government sector. Compared to the third quarter of 2015, the overall number of jobs in Anne Arundel County is up by 7,636.
“Our tax and regulatory reforms continue to help create jobs and prosperity in our county,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh. “As we put together our next budget, we remain committed to enacting policies that will build upon this progress.”
The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program covers the quarterly count of employment and wages as reported by employers and covers 98% of U.S. jobs. The report showed that top sectors to add jobs include Trade/Transportation/Utilities (1,791), Professional & Business Services (1,696) and Education & Health Services (1,669).
At the height of the economic downturn in 2009, Anne Arundel County dropped to a low point of 226,404, a decrease of more than 7,500 jobs from the previous year. The county recovered from, and added to, the 2008 level when it hit 239,839 jobs in 2012. Since then, Anne Arundel County’s jobs number has averaged 2.9% growth per year.
Arundel P&Z Officer Tom to Retire
County Executive Steve Schuh has announced the retirement of long-time Anne Arundel County Planning and Zoning Officer Larry Tom. Tom has been Planning and Zoning officer since May 2007. During his time in office, he oversaw the preparation of the 2009 General Development Plan and worked with the county council to implement comprehensive rezoning legislation in 2011.
Other accomplishments during his tenure include the 2009 and 2016 updates of the Odenton Town Center Master Plan, and working with the county council to pass significant legislation to improve the county’s zoning code and subdivision regulations.
Since his re-appointment by Schuh in 2014, Tom has helped implement a series of land use reforms. These reforms include shifts in personnel between the Planning and Zoning and Inspections and Permits departments to increase efficiency and the implementation of the county’s Expedited Review Program.
Prior to his service with the county, Tom served as chief of community development for the city of Annapolis for nearly seven years, and also served as the senior project manager for facilities design and construction at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Improvements Planned for Route 29 Pedestrian Bridge in Columbia
On March 8, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced county plans for improvements to the Route 29 pedestrian bridge linking East and West Columbia. The project will incorporate a geodesic spiral tube for a unique visual element and also will address safety issues, Kittleman said, including improved, upgraded lighting and a fiber-optic connection to monitoring cameras for improved public safety.
“While these improvements will assist in the short term, my administration will continue to work with Friends of Bridge Columbia, state officials and the community to evaluate long-term options to improve connections between downtown and Oakland Mills,” Kittleman said.
The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) will contribute $500,000 to the project, which is expected to cost a little more than $1 million. Work will commence this fall and should be complete by the spring of 2018.
“Connection is going to be a key theme of Columbia [redevelopment] as a whole,” said Greg Fitchitt, HHC vice president, development. “With this pathway we connect people to wellness at the hospital and to education at the community college, and recreation at Blandair Park and people to their community. With this design, it really will be transforming what is today kind of an eyesore into an icon.”
Colfax to Acquire Siemens Turbomachinery Equipment
GmbH for €195M
Annapolis Junction-based Colfax Corp., a global manufacturer of gas- and fluid-handling and fabrication technology products and services, has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Siemens Turbomachinery Equipment GmbH (STE) from Siemens AG for a cash consideration of approximately €195 million.
STE, an innovator in the international turbomachinery business, develops, produces and distributes single-stage compressors and small steam turbines for environmental and industrial applications. The acquisition will be integrated into Colfax’s Howden business platform, broadening Howden’s range of compression solutions and expanding its product offerings.
STE also diversifies Howden’s served end-markets and increases its presence in applications with attractive growth potential. For the fiscal year ended September 2016, STE had revenues of €146 million.
“Colfax, with its subsidiary, Howden, is the ideal purchaser to strengthen the business’s overall competitive position. The sale enables the business to successfully expand in its core business of compressor production for numerous applications, including small steam turbines and associated services,” said Christopher Rossi, CEO of the Dresser-Rand business, part of Siemens’ Power and Gas Division.
Historic Ellicott City’s River House Pizza to Open New Location
River House Pizza Co., a Historic Ellicott City wood-fired pizza company and outdoor courtyard dining restaurant, is set to open a second location in the Forest Green Shopping Center along Route 40 in Ellicott City this spring. The new location more than doubles its current kitchen and refrigeration space, offers plenty of room for company growth and provides its customers with some indoor seating.
The Courtyard Kitchen, River House Pizza’s 500-square-foot facility located in Historic Ellicott City’s Tonge Row, was originally intended to support off-site production at farmers markets, festivals and catering events. Soon, the location became a popular destination in its own right, offering on-site outdoor service on its large courtyard.
The Howard County Economic Development Authority provided Sowers with a $100,000 loan from the Catalyst Loan Fund to facilitate his expansion. Full repayment is scheduled in five years.