Anirban Basu Delivers Economic Forecast at #MACoCon

In the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session, “Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction“, economist, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group, Inc., Anirban Basu, provided audience members with a local, state, national, and global economic forecast.

Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.
Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.

Basu discussed positives such as the state’s overall job growth and economic standing. But tempered that news with recognition that there is regional disparity between Washington and Baltimore metro counties which are experiencing growth, while rural areas in the east and west are experiencing stagnation or decline. Overall, Basu had ominous predictions for the future with threats of a downturn as soon as 2019.

The session was moderated by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton and held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

The MACo summer conference was  held August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

Tackling Complex Public Works Projects at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Flushing Your Troubles Down the Drain, the South Kent Island Solution” attendees learned how Queen Anne’s County and the Maryland Departments of Planning and the Environment were able to address public health and environmental concerns by connecting 1,518 existing homes and eight commercial properties to a safe and effective public sewer system.

Todd Mohn, Director, Department of Public Works, Queen Anne’s County, began the session by providing an overview of the South Kent Island sewer project. Mr. Mohn discussed why the project is necessary and identified the numerous stakeholders involved with the planning and implementation of the project.

Steve Cohoon, Public Facilities Planner, Queen Anne’s County, discussed the areas impacted by the project. Mr. Mohn also described how the county was faced with an alarming septic system failure rate on South Kent Island (70-90%), and how environmental and health concerns made the project a top priority for Queen Anne’s County.

Julie Barown, P.E., Northeast Regional Municipal Systems, Orenco Systems, Inc. talked about the technical specifications of the South Kent Island sewer system, including why the STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pumping) system is far superior to OSDS (On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems) systems. According to Mrs. Barown, in addition to reducing costs, the STEP system will greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay from the South Kent Island service area.

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner At-Large Jim Moran concluded the panel by discussing how limited funding, Smart Growth requirements, and anti-growth concerns—among many other concerns and challenges—made it necessary to create a unique solution. Commissioner Moran also talked about the potential political consequences that can result from controversial public works projects, and how the county sought to mitigate concerns by seeking citizen input throughout the planning process.

The session was moderated by Delegate Shane Robinson and was held on Friday, August 18. The MACo Summer Conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year the conference’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

FBI “Chasing the Dragon” Documentary Screened at #MACoCon

2017 MACo Summer Conference attendees has the opportunity to watch a screening of the FBI and DEA’s documentary “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict“. 

Following the screening audience members were able to talk with representatives from the FBI who fielded questions and listened to members share their experiences.
Following the screening audience members were able to talk with representatives from the FBI who fielded questions and listened to members share their experiences.

The documentary is intended to educate students and young adults on the dangers of drug abuse through startling first-person accounts of those who have suffered the consequences. Audience members were given a free copy of the documentary which included educational materials to help spread awareness and start discussions.

The screening of Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict was held on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The MACo Summer Conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year the conference’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

Business Leaders Rock the Pitch at #MACoCon Competition

Five successful entrepreneurs who bring jobs and innovations came to the Maryland Association of Counties conference this year. The entrepreneurs represented five sectors of industry defined by StartUp Maryland: Cyber; Manufacturing; Rural Innovations; Health/Life Sciences; and Social Breakthrough.

Driven from within the startup community and led by/for entrepreneurs, Startup Maryland is peer-driven and focused on high-growth ventures. Forged on the themes spawned by national initiatives, Startup Maryland strives to connect innovation communities. Startup Maryland rallies entrepreneurs, supporters and other innovation stakeholders around four main mission themes:  Celebration | Coaching | Curation | Capital.

At MACo’s pitch competition, 5 business leaders were joined by five representatives of industry sectors to pitch their sector and start-up as the next big thing for the ‘old line state.’ An audience of more than 100 county government officials and conference attendees selected a fan favorite based on: passion of the pitch, potential for job growth, collaboration with other businesses within the sector, and funding.

(L-R) Bruce McIndoe of iJet, Julie Lenzer of the University of Maryland, and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger judging pitches from Maryland entrepreneurs.

An expert panel of judges, including Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, economic development guru Julie Lenzer of the University of Maryland, and investor and entrepreneur Bruce McIndoe of iJet grilled the pitchers on their business concepts and ultimately decided a winner.

The Health/Life Sciences category and Mike Geppi, CEO of Timbre Tech, Inc were selected as the best bet for Maryland. Geppi’s Timbre Tech advances modern medicine with a technology that enhances the precision and improves the safety of CAT scans, while taking advantage of Maryland’s anchor institutions in health — The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

As winner of the competition, the Health/Life Sciences business sector will be the subject of a dedicated educational session at an upcoming Maryland Association of Counties Conference.




Pitch Scorecard1
Mike Geppi, CEO of Timbre Tech, Inc won MACo’s first pitch competition.

Timbre Tech’s radiation detection with direct gamma detection reduces time in tunnels for protons therapy patients and creates sharper images for doctors. This new method of radiation detection is smaller, faster, better, and safer.






Every business leader and sector representative came ready to impress and represented the strength of Maryland’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Pitches included:

Gregg Smith, CEO, Silent Circle represented Maryland’s cyber industry.

Silent Circle is a secure communications firm offering enterprise communications solutions including software, devices, and services. The Silent Circle Enterprise Mobile Privacy Platform offers a modular, zero-touch, simple deployment with no maintenance, no hardware, and no additional manpower. “Blanket your organization with trusted communications.”






Pitch Scorecard
Saundra Lamb, President, Semforex represented Maryland’s manufacturing industry.

Semforex is a ballistics performance apparel company that designs, manufactures, and markets innovative performance apparel and protective equipment for first responders. Semforex, Inc is a minority, veteran-owned company formed in Maryland in 2012. The Semforex mission is “. . .to help protect those who give their best to protect all of us.”





Pitch Scorecard
Scott Ackerson, CEO, Quidient represented entrepreneurship in rural Maryland.

Quidient is headquartered on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its mission is to supply business and government customers with the best scene reconstruction engines (SREs) on the planet, thereby enabling users of their systems to realize the remarkable benefits of 3D imaging in their personal and professional lives. Scene Reconstruction Engines (SREs) are the “digital brains” of 3D imaging devices such as mobile phones and augmented reality (AR) glasses.






Pitch Scorecard
Paulo Gregory Harris, Cohado represented businesses driving social breakthroughs.

The Cohado game seeks to teach that all have a responsibility to utilize resources, connections, energy, voices and power to usher in an age of relationship, understanding and connectedness. “Play It Forward!”



#MACoCon Panelists Discuss a Collaborative Approach for Batting the Opioid Epidemic

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach” attendees learned about the ways counties are utilizing a collaborative approach in the fight against the opioid crisis in Maryland. A collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions.

Attacking the Opioid Epidemic panel from left to right: Clay Stamp, Kevin Aftung, Delegate Barron, Nancy Schrum, Jeff Amoros.
Attacking the Opioid Epidemic panel from left to right: Clay Stamp, Kevin Aftung, Delegate Barron, Nancy Schrum, Jeff Amoros.
Audience members raise hands as Clay Stamp gauges the impact of the opioid crisis.
Audience members raise hands as Clay Stamp gauges the impact of the opioid crisis.

Clay Stamp, Executive Director – Opioid Operational Command Center, Maryland Emergency Management Agency provided an overview of the opioid epidemic in Maryland and discussed how his team has been working with local governments to provide resources critical for combatting the crisis on a local level.

Kevin Aftung and Nancy Schrum
Kevin Aftung and Nancy Schrum


Kevin Aftung, President, MACo Emergency Managers Affiliate, discussed how Anne Arundel County has mobilized opioid intervention teams at the county level and in the City of Annapolis. These teams are providing essential resources for fighting the opioid epidemic on a local level. Mr. Aftung also gave an overview of the county’s “safe station” initiative. The initiative allows any individual suffering from a heroin/opioid addiction to go to the Annapolis Police Department, any Annapolis or Anne Arundel County Fire Station, or any Anne Arundel County Police Station to seek help. Individuals seeking assistance are required to drop any needles and paraphernalia into a sharps collection container available at each location. If the individual is in possession of any illegal drugs, the appropriate police agency will be notified for disposal purposes only. Mr. Aftung also shared that the county is working on developing a “beds available” software app that would help people find available treatment beds in the county.

Jeff Amorose
Jeff Amoros

Nancy Schrum, Director, Office of Constituent Services, Anne Arundel County, talked about the resources Anne Arundel County has made available to their citizens, including education, prevention, and treatment for opioid use and abuse. Of note, Ms. Schrum discussed the Not My Child” program, a multi-agency, collaborative initiative to promote awareness of opioid and addiction issues to parents, educators, and the community.

Jeff Amoros, Legislative Director, Baltimore City Health Department, gave a presentation that included Baltimore City’s plan of action for addressing the opioid epidemic. Jeff discussed both legislative and community initiatives being implemented across the City.

The session was moderated by Delegate Erek Barron and was held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Augmented Reality Comes to County Governments at #MACoCon

This year’s Maryland Association of Counties Conference featured a panel discussion of augmented and virtual reality and its applications for county governments.

A 3D mock-up of a proposed development in Port Covington is one of the projects Balti Virtual has undertaken that reveals the potential for county government uses of augmented reality technology.

Jason Michael Perry, VP of Engineering at Mindgrub, described augmented reality training programs for nurses and firefighters.

Will Gee of Balti Virtual demonstrated his augmented reality applications, including a 3D map of a planned for development at Port Covington in Baltimore.

John M. Wasilisin, President and Chief Operating Officer of TedCo shared what they are doing to connect Maryland’s most successful businesses with start-ups that can help resolve their tech needs.

Brian Darmody, Associate Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Relations of the University of Maryland, College Park moderated the panel. Darmody provided several examples of the intersection of local governments and augmented and virtual reality, including public safety issues associated with last year’s Pokemon Go craze and resulting legal action. At College Park, Darmody has been instrumental in launching area technology commercialization efforts.


A Conversation with Senator Cardin at #MACoCon

Maryland Association of Counties conference attendees had the opportunity to speak with Maryland’s senior Senator, Ben Cardin, at a town hall style session last week in Ocean City.

Senator Ben Cardin responds to questions from an attendee of the MACo Summer Conference in Ocean City, Maryland. The Senator regularly attends MACo for this opportunity to speak directly with Maryland county government representatives.

The topics of the discussion ranged from the Senator’s updates from Washington DC on infrastructure investment and Chesapeake Bay program funding, to answering questions about the C&O Canal Headquarters location, the Conowingo Dam, and partnership from other watershed states to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Brian Bowden, Association Legislative Director of the National Association of Counties moderated the town hall.

Panelists Discuss the TechHire Initiative at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs ” panelists discussed TechHire, an initiative powered by Opportunity@Work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. TechHire is a nationwide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented and overlooked job seekers start technology careers.

Keyon Smith, Community Engagement Manager, Opportunity@Work began the session by providing an overview of the TechHire initiative, explaining that three Maryland Counties have already implemented TechHire in their communities – Carroll County, Howard County, and Baltimore City. Mr. Smith also provided information on what local officials can do to bring TechHire to their counties.

Kati Townsley, Executive Director, Carroll Technology Council, Inc. and Denise Beaver, Deputy Director, Carroll County Economic Development discussed the TechHire program in Carroll County. Specifically, Mrs. Townsley and Mrs. Beaver described what Carroll County has done to develop a TechHire “ecosystem” and highlighted best practices.

Tracey Turner, Executive Director, Howard Tech Council talked about the TechHire program in Howard County. Mrs. Turner gave insight on how Howard County has partnered with Howard County Community College to focus on internships and training.

Evan Dornbush, CEO, Point3 Security, Inc. discussed what his company is doing to expand technology training, especially for veterans. Mr. Dornbush explained how counties can and should recruit veterans, especially because they often have technology experience and valuable insight into the technology industry.

The session was moderated Washington County Commissioner and MACo Immediate Past President John Barr and took place on Thursday, August 17. The MACo Summer Conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year the conference’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

New Tools to Battle Blight and Abandonment at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “No Vacancy: Revitalizing Vacant and Blighted Properties” attendees learned about recently passed legislation that will help counties reduce blight and turn problem properties into productive properties.

Odette Ramos, Executive Director of the Community Development Network (CDN), began the session by providing an overview of bills that were passed and signed into law during the 2017 general assembly session. This included: SB957/HB1168 – Land Bank Reform; HB1048/SB875 – Foreclosed Property Registry; HB702/SB1033 – Definition of vacant and abandoned property related to expedited foreclosure; HB659/SB823 – Tax Sale Reform. Ramos also mentioned HB 954 – Foreclosed Property Registry updates which did not make it through both committees before time ran out on Sine Die.

Dorchester County Grants Administrator, Cindy Smith, gave attendees the boots on the ground perspective of the the difficulties counties face with problem properties and how local jurisdictions can use the new tools at their disposal to remedy the problems. Smith shared some striking before and after pictures of properties within Dorchester County.

The Director  of Foreclosure Outreach at the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) Meredith Mishaga, presented on the state’s foreclosed property registry.

Ramos concluded the panel with an update on the tax sale workgroup and expedited foreclosure work.

The session was moderated by Delegate Marvin Holmes and was held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Enter the New Role of Environmental Health Officer

In Walking the Tightrope: Protecting the Public, Energizing the Economy, MACo Conference attendees learned about law and regulations protecting public health while allowing for residential and economic growth. These laws and regulations make up some of the assortment of duties that a county environmental health officers encounters.

Donald Wilson, Environmental Health Director, Caroline County shared how the role of county environmental health officials has evolved over the years, and more about specific new areas such as enhanced residential septic regulations and food trucks.

carolineFrom an environmental health perspective, food trucks are relatively easy to deal with, and they avoid the need to issue temporary licenses at event spaces.




Willy Dely, Founder, Au Jus Solutions shared a business perspective on food trucks, describing how the law allowing reciprocity of food truck licenses between counties has helped regional growth of the food truck industry.

delyFood trucks fit a business model where you can be very flexible. They are creating jobs and are making many forgotten downtown spaces cool again.




William Castelli, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Maryland Realtors Association described the septics regulations, most of which he though struck the right balance between protecting the public’s health and preserving the ability of Marylanders to become homeowners.

castelliIncreased regulation of septics has largely balanced health and economic concerns, with the exception of the push for BAT [best available technology] systems out of the priority funding area. BAT systems can cost between $12k and $20k for a new home, which can be a large percentage of a starter-home cost.


Sharon Green Middleton of the Baltimore City Council moderated the panel. Council Member Middleton shared insight into the positive potential for food trucks, stating,

middletonFood trucks have helped bring healthy options to food deserts in the City of Baltimore.