TopGolf Plan for South Baltimore Is Ready for Possible Tee-Off

A proposal to open TopGolf at the site of Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter site near M&T Bank Stadium in South Baltimore has been sent to city economic development officials by Towson developer Caves Valley Partners, City Councilman Ed Resiginer said this week. Reisinger represents the 10th District, which includes the area.

Baltimore Business Journal reports,

In the meantime, the city has signed a contract to acquire a 40,000-square-foot facility at 2800 Wegworth Lane near Westport and Cherry Hill for a new BARCS shelter, said Scott Douglas, a principal at Douglas Commercial LLC, which listed the building for sale. Douglas declined to reveal the sales price.

Caves Valley in early April submitted the lone bid for a 2.5-acre parcel of city-owned land at 301 Stockholm St. in response to a request for proposals issued earlier this year by the Baltimore Development Corp., Resiginer said. Another 7 acres located adjacent to the BARCS site would make the development property total 10 acres.

Arsh Mirmiran, a partner in Caves Valley, did not respond to a request for comment.

Adding TopGolf, a national chain with locations in cities that include Las Vegas and Charlotte, N.C., will boost the area’s vibe as am emerging entertainment zone. TopGolf’s feature a 240-yard high-tech driving range, a sports bar and restaurant and party rental hall. The area is currently highlighted by the home turf of the Baltimore Ravens and the Horseshoe Baltimore casino.

The Dallas-based company has been searching to move into Baltimore for about a year. TopGolf is planning its first Maryland location off Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg.

Reisinger said this week the bid to build a TopGolf location there by Caves Valley was moving through city development channels. The site was identified in a 2015 South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan by the city Department of Planning as part of a new “entertainment hub.”

Read the full article for more information.

MD Technology Development Corp. Names New CEO

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) has a new chief executive officer, starting June 26.

George Davis’ wealth of business experience includes serving as partner of GM3/Gamma 3 LLC, a Baltimore-based investment initiative that provides early-stage funding to advanced technology companies; CEO of Gemstone Biotherapeutics LLC, a Baltimore-based research and development company founded in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University; director of Perthera Inc, a new venture that is at the forefront of the evolving bio-informatics industry; board of directors/CEO of Avatech Solutions/Rand Worldwide Inc, a publicly traded CAD software and engineering support company; president and vice chairman of Aether Systems, a pioneering wireless data company; and contracts, operations and program manager at Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

From TEDCO’s statement:

“After a thorough search, the Board of Directors is excited to have George Davis take the helm of TEDCO as our new CEO. George brings to TEDCO a wealth of demonstrated leadership skills, diverse C-Level experience acumen and a history of successful investment and operational engagements within the Maryland Innovation Ecosystem,” said TEDCO Chairman Newt Fowler. “He’s an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. And he will execute on Governor Hogan’s strong priority of supporting small businesses, including tech startups, as the foundation for improving Maryland’s economy.”

TEDCO has been carrying the “innovation to market” banner for almost two decades and has added tremendous value to the evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Recognized as one of the most active seed/early-stage investors in the nation, TEDCO has a portfolio of more than 400 seed investments. TEDCO’s $22 million awarded to startups led to more than $1 billion in follow-on funding; 4,358 jobs created at an average salary of $74,700; and more than $36 million in annual government revenues attributed to TEDCO activities.

TEDCO is an independent organization created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998 to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technology from Maryland’s research universities and federal labs into the marketplace and to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based businesses in all regions of the State. TEDCO indicates on its website that it “strives to be Maryland’s lead source for entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies in Maryland’s innovation economy.”

Harford Pawnbroker Bill Passed by County Council

An amended Bill 17-006, which tightens Harford County regulations on pawnbrokers to make it harder for heroin addicts to pawn stolen items, was passed by unanimous vote of the Harford County Council Tuesday evening.

The final version of the bill has three amendments, which were approved Tuesday, that make the process of compliance slightly easier for shop owners.

According to The Aegis,

Councilman Mike Perrone, a co-sponsor of the bill, acknowledged the issue of government regulating business transactions, and he stressed county leaders understand the “vast majority” of transactions conducted in pawnshops do not involve stolen items.

“We also recognize that the various paths that stolen property tends to travel as it makes it way through society tend to converge at places like pawnshops,” he said.

Perrone said in that case, “it might make sense to introduce more laws and regulations at those points to ultimately try to bring down the cost of theft across society.”

The bill has been controversial, as several pawnshop owners argued during a May 2 public hearing that it was putting too large of a burden on a business that is already highly regulated.

People whose loved ones have stolen from them and pawned the items for cash to support their heroin addiction argued in favor of the bill, however, including one woman whose daughter died from an overdose.

Under the legislation, shop owners must report all transactions to the Sheriff’s Office and provide detailed reports, with photos, on each item that comes into their stores.

Shop owners must have video surveillance in their shops and store the footage in case it is needed for an investigation.

The council approved three amendments to the bill that its lead sponsor, Councilman Patrick Vincenti, said came from extensive conversations with business owners, their advocates in local chambers of commerce and business organizations, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the State’s Attorney’s office.

The first amendment shortens the time that video footage must be stored digitally from 150 days to 60 days. The second amendment allows shop owners to inform a customer if the item they are pawning is being held for an investigation and that the customer should contact law enforcement for more information.

The third amendment allows minors to purchase an item from a pawn shop, but they cannot bring in an item to be pawned, according to Vincenti.

“The amendments that were put forward and approved tonight were a result of the conversation and input that we had with many partners,” he said.

Perrone expressed his support for the legislation, too.

“I think that this bill was well thought out, I think the amendments that were introduced and passed here tonight do a good job of refining it, and I support this legislation,” he said.

Council President Richard Slutzky certified Bill 17-006, as amended, as “being the text finally passed.”

The bill will become law when signed by the county executive, and it will take effect 60 days later, according to the legislation.

Read the full article for more information.

Montgomery County Planners Finalize Draft Airbnb Guidelines

Montgomery County planners have finalized draft guidelines to regulate Airbnb and similar shortterm rentals that are currently not allowed to operate within the county. The proposal will need to go before the County Planning Board and the County Council for approval.

As reported on Bethesda Beat:

The final draft of a proposal to regulate Airbnb-style rentals would let Montgomery County hosts accommodate guests for up to 30 days at a stretch, so long as they secure a special license.

County planners have been working for months to craft the guidelines, and their final draft will come before the Montgomery County Planning Board on May 4.

Under the final draft, hosts must be licensed through the county and apply for a renewal each year. The homeowners should demonstrate that they’ve notified their neighbors of the rental activity and maintain a log of all their guests. They can’t rent their homes for more than 90 days out of the year and must provide at least one off-street parking space for each rental contract. Each rental can accommodate up to six overnight guests who are 18 or older.

Read the full article on Bethesda Beat for more information.

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

MACo seeks to protect local licensing flexibility and enhance citizens’ safety through its business affairs advocacy. The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in this area in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.

Beer and Wine Tasting

Push Icons-WONMACo sucessfully supported passage of a bill to authorize a limited-scope license for beer and wine tastings at the Ocean City Convention Center, for certain events that promote Maryland-based products. This legislation only applies to events hosted by organizations representing local governments at the Ocean City Convention Center, and only for events promoting Maryland products for “tasting” purposes, such as the Taste of Maryland event at the MACo Summer Conference. Senate Bill 1102 was passed by both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Trade Licensing & Qualifications

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo successfully stopped legislation to remove all electrical licensing authority from local jurisdictions by 2020 and established a statewide licensing framework for master electricians. Counties and their local electrical boards are best situated to oversee and discipline electricians working within their jurisdictions. House Bill 1368 received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill intended to create more flexibility for counties hiring plumbing inspectors, and requiring certain experience for county inspectors. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 461/House Bill 40 was withdrawn by its sponsors. Bill Information


 Rabies Vaccination Reporting

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported passage of a bill to authorize designated local animal agencies to request rabies vaccination certificates or information for dogs, cats, and ferrets from licensed veterinarians. MACo worked with county animal control offices to conduct a survey on this topic during the interim and worked closely with advocacy groups on this legislation. Senate Bill 366/House Bill 432 passed the Senate but did not make it out of committee in the House of Delegates. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Residential Lodging

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill to require shortterm rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 463 did not make it out of committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

Savings & Solutions with New U.S. Communities Paint & Paint Supplies Contract

U.S. Communities is excited to announce the award of a new cooperative contract for Paint and Paint Supplies. This contract was awarded to The Home Depot through a competitive solicitation process conducted by the lead public agency, Maricopa County, Arizona. The contract term is for three years with the option to renew for seven additional one year periods.

Learn more about this new contract that provides services and savings:

  1. Up to 20% off paints, stains and primers
  2. All paint purchases eligible for rebate of up to 5%
  3. Free direct-to-jobsite delivery
  4. Dedicated field support

More Information on the Paint Contract

Join U.S. Communities for one of its free informational webinars. If you are unable to join one of the webinars, click the information link below to have a Home Depot representative contact you.

Legislative Black Caucus Calls for Special Session on Medical Cannabis

The head of the Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday her organization wants Governor Larry Hogan to recall the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day special session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry.

That legislation failed in the waning minutes of the annual 90-day session on Monday night, ending a months-long fight to grant lucrative medical cannabis growing licenses to companies owned by minorities.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

Despite a state law requiring regulators to seek racial diversity, none of the 15 firms to win preliminary licenses last year was led by African-Americans.

Baltimore Democratic Del. Cheryl Glenn, chair of the 51-member caucus, said the last-minute failure of the group’s top priority left black lawmakers “feeling rejected, dejected and taken for granted” by the Democrats who lead the General Assembly. The caucus sought to issue another five licenses and reinvent the commission that had awarded the initial ones.

“Nothing changes, and most importantly, that means African-Americans are left out of this billion-dollar industry in Maryland, and that is not acceptable,” Glenn said Tuesday.

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer declined to comment on the request. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, referred the topic to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, also a Democrat. Busch said that the caucus needed to raise it with the governor.

Glenn planned a morning press conference Wednesday to continue to press the issue. She’ll be joined by African-American prospective business owners, Baltimore defense attorney Billy Murphy, and representatives from GTI Maryland, a company suing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission over how it awarded the initial round of licenses.

GTI and another firm, Maryland Cultivation and Processing, filed lawsuits against the commission after they were removed from the pool of winning applicants as the commission sought geographic diversity among growers. Negotiations broke down in the General Assembly over whether to write into state law that the two companies are entitled to a new license.

Miller insisted that any legislation contain that provision. Busch refused to consider it until late Monday, when it appeared no legislation would pass without the provision. The final vote on the House floor did not take place before the midnight deadline to adjourn.

Glenn said this has caused a rift between the caucus and Democratic leaders who rely on its members to help pass legislation.

“They failed us, and it stings,” she said. “And the way that we resolve it is the one-day special session. Let’s pick up where we left off.”

The Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association, which represents companies that received initial permission to grow and process the drug, said the legislation’s failure allows it to continue to “focus on the primary goal: getting medical cannabis to Maryland patients,” hundreds of whom turned up in Annapolis to make their voices heard.

Dr. Paul Davies, chairman of the cannabis commission, said he was “very relieved” the commission would not be reconstituted and that it could continue work to issue final licenses that would put the drug in patients’ hands by summer. The commission has hired a diversity consultant, and by law will re-evaluate in 2018 whether the market for medical marijuana can support more growers, processors or dispensaries.

“The commission gets the message that racial and ethnic diversity is important,” Davies said. “We plan to aggressively pursue a policy of diversity.”

Read the full article for more information.

Register Now: Maryland Governor’s Business Summit 17 on May 18

Join Governor Hogan for the first Maryland Governor’s Business Summit on May 18, 2017 from 8am until 4pm. Explore topics on human capital, global trends and business strategy. Connect with a wide array of Maryland’s business leaders. The Summit will be at the Hilton Baltimore – Key Ballroom: 401 W Pratt Street Baltimore, MD 21201.

Governor Larry Hogan said,

“Great things are happening in Maryland. Our economic climate has gone from 49th in the nation to number 11 – the largest jump among states. Our companies are adding thousands of new jobs to our communities, more than 73,000 since January 2015.  We are making meaningful progress for business.  Let’s capture this momentum!”

Breakout Topics Include:

  • Redefining urban centers across Maryland
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Future of manufacturing in Maryland
  • Next generation learning environments
  • Top education leaders discuss innovation through partnerships
  • Maryland on the front lines of global threats

Tickets are currently available for $150. Click here to register.

Stay up-to-date with the Maryland Department of Commerce by subscribing to the Maryland Business Pulse newsletter.

Local Electrical Licensing Repeal Bill Dies in Committee

A bill that would remove all electrical licensing authority from local jurisdictions by 2020 and would establish a statewide licensing framework for master electricians received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee this week.

MACo opposed HB 1368 as journeymen and other local classes of electricians would effectively lose their local ability to perform services. Counties also believe their local electrical boards are best situated to oversee and discipline electricians working within their jurisdictions.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street: MACo: Don’t Remove Local Electrical Licensing Authority

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.


MACo: Allow Maryland-Based Breweries at OCCC Tasting Events

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in favor of legislation (SB 1102) that would authorize a limited-scope license for beer and wine tastings at the Ocean City Convention Center, for certain events that promote Maryland-based products.

MACo’s testimony states,

For the last four years, MACo has offered a “Taste of Maryland” reception as part of its annual summer conference in Ocean City. The event has grown to nearly 1,000 guests, and has gained popularity as a venue for our jurisdictions to showcase their many food and drink options. The event is a “sampling” event, where small portions of food, snacks, and wine have proven very popular with attendees who may not otherwise learn about the many offerings from across Maryland.

Current liquor laws apparently do not allow this event to feature Maryland-brewed beer in the same fashion as wine, and this has kept local breweries from participating in this once-a-year event. SB 1102 does not seek to upend the overall balance the General Assembly has struck regarding the two industries, but simply seeks to afford the same opportunity to showcase beer and wine at this limited type of event. SB 1102 only applies to events at the Ocean City Convention Center (itself a license holder), and only for events promoting Maryland products for “tasting” purposes.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.