Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Retail Growth in the Region is Expected to Soar

A Pitney Bowes Business Insight study has ranked the Baltimore and Washington metro areas second and sixth in the nation respectively in expected retail sales growth. Out of the top six, these are the only two located outside of Texas. The report cited probable robust growth in local employment and local economic activity in both regions as factors driving the high rankings, as well as recent strong mid-tier, high-tier and drug store retail sales.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good News for Small Businesses

Governor Martin O'Malley has announced a proposal to provide $83 million in rate relief for Maryland's small businesses and modernize the state's unemployment insurance laws. These actions will allow the State to access $126.8 million in federal dollars to continue providing unemployment insurance for those individuals and families hardest hit by the recession."

The Governor's plan comes just weeks after he announced new initiatives to stimulate the economy in Maryland, create jobs and strengthen small businesses as the State transitions from recession through recovery to prosperity.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ideas Sought for Public Art Project

The Frederick Arts Council (FAC) is seeking proposals from artists, arts organizations, or other collaborating nonprofit and government entities for a potential permanent public art project. This project is contingent on the FAC being approved for and receiving state funding. Therefore, the FAC will review all proposals received and select one that will be submitted to the Maryland State Arts Council for consideration. Once approved, the project must be permanently installed in a public place and accessible.

Public art projects can be interior or exterior works. Interior works must be in public buildings and located in a space open to the public. Examples of public facilities include schools, community centers, parks, and government buildings. As a county-wide nonprofit organization, the arts council is interested in sites throughout Frederick County. The artwork can include, but is not limited to murals, sculpture, and functional art such as benches or bike racks. A wide variety of mediums will be considered, including mixed media. The public art project must begin by June 2010.

The proposed project will be reviewed based on a set of criteria, including the artistic merit of the proposed artwork, artist qualifications, accessibility, community involvement and support of the project, and others. The total funds available will not exceed $10,000 for the project. If approved for the state grant, 50 percent of the cost of the proposed public art project could be covered. The FAC will work with the artist and/or collaborating partners to identify the other 50% funding. The funds may be allowed to pay artists and technicians to coordinate and install the work of art as well as equipment and supplies to fabricate the work.

“In FY08, we were successful with our proposal to the state which resulted in the bronze calf by Frederick artist Adam Lubkin,” said Frederick Arts Council Executive Director Shuan Butcher. “That piece of public art was a great addition and we hope to continue adding to the public art landscape,” he said. Frederick County was one of five counties that received funding that year through Maryland’s new Public Art Project grant program.

Individuals and organizations interested in submitting a formal proposal must do so to the Frederick Arts Council office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 15th. An official application form is required and can also be obtained at the FAC office.

The Frederick Arts Council fosters the growth of the arts, artists and arts organizations through grant and scholarship programs, workshops and arts education forums, and advocacy. The organization is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit the Council’s website at or contact Frederick Arts Council Executive Director Shuan Butcher at 301-662-4190.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BDAC Elects New Chair and Vice-Chair

By a unanimous decision the Frederick County Business Development Advisory Council (BDAC) appointed Mike Kidder as Chairman and Veronica Mozzano as Vice-Chairman of the organization, which advises the Frederick County Board of Commissioners and the Office of Economic Development (OED) on economic matters.

Kidder, a member of BDAC for four years, works with Bechtel Corporation’s communications staff and manages community outreach activities in the Frederick area. Before transitioning to his current position, he was responsible for providing strategic counsel to the firm’s officers on media and community relations as well as government and political affairs. During his 20 years at Bechtel, Kidder served as company spokesman for local, national and international media. “Our council works together, as commissioner-appointed resources representing a cross-section of the community, to help enhance the quality of life for everyone doing business in Frederick County,” said Kidder. “All of us on BDAC look forward to continuing to share ideas, suggestions and creative approaches with the county commissioners to address concerns and issues facing the business community, especially during these challenging times.”

Mozzano is executive vice president and chief lending officer at Woodsboro Bank in Frederick. Her responsibilities include the oversight of both commercial and consumer lending activities. Mozzano’s financial service experience spans 29 years in commercial sales and credit risk management. She is heavily involved in community projects and organizations, serving on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Maryland Chapter and as a member of the board of the Rotary of Carroll Creek. Mozzano joined BDAC in 2008. “We act as the eyes and ears in the community as we interact with existing business owners,” said Mozzano. “The proactive OED monthly outreach program provides BDAC members the opportunity to visit existing companies not only to learn about the businesses but also to address business owners’ specific needs in a face-to-face approach.”

“We are fortunate and pleased to have such intelligent and dedicated people serving our office and the citizens of Frederick County,” said Laurie Boyer, executive director of OED. “Mike and Veronica bring to the table valuable experience that certainly helps the County in pursuit of its goal to help existing and prospective businesses.”

For more information about BDAC and/or OED, please call 301-600-1058 or visit our website at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chamber's Boardwalk Program - Applications Now Available

The Council of Community Partners, a volunteer committee of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, will present its fifth annual Boardwalk training program from February 12 through March 19, 2010.

The 18-hour series is divided into six, three-hour sessions. BOARDWALK 2010 is a comprehensive, interactive training program designed to educate business and community leaders on how to be effective volunteer board members of nonprofit organizations.

Participants will learn about the following topics: Best practices in nonprofit governance and management, roles and responsibilities of board members, importance of fundraising and development, legal basics for nonprofit boards, financial oversight responsibilities for nonprofit boards, board/staff relationships and finding your place on the board.

All sessions are held in the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Training Room, at 8420-B Gas House Pike, Frederick, from 8:15 a.m. until 12 noon. There is a cost to attend and limited scholarships are available. The program application, scholarship application and informational flyer are available online at

Application and payment must be received at the Chamber office by December 22, 2009 for an early bird discount and the final deadline is January 15, 2010. Mail completed application and payment to the Chamber of Commerce at 8420-B Gas House Pike, Frederick, MD 21701, or fax to 301-846-4427.

For additional information about this program, contact Wendy Errera, Frederick Chamber of Commerce, at or 301-662-4553.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gov. O'Malley hosts Small Business Online Town Hall

Governor Martin O'Malley and NPR personality Mario Armstrong host an interactive town hall meeting Wednesday, December 9 at 3 pm. Be part of this lively economic forum as we present information and insight to help Maryland small business succeed. Presented with the Department of Business & Economic Development, this innovative forum offers viewers a chance to interact on-line and features a panel of small business owners.
Hosted by e-marketing small business leader Blue Sky Factory:

Watch Wednesday, December 9, 3 pm
View the live, streaming town hall talk by clicking here.

Ask A ? Submit a question in advance here.*

Twitter Follow @MDBiz or the conversation at #smallbiztalk

*all questions not answered online Wednesday will be addressed by the Department of Business & Economic Development on behalf of the Governor within 48 hours of the broadcast.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FCWS Reports on Success of Summer Jobs Program

Frederick County Workforce Services recently released a report to showcase its 2009 Summer Jobs Program. The report includes position demographics and worksite information as well as program successes and outcomes.

As in previous years, the purpose of the Summer Jobs Program is to provide young adults who have barriers to employment with practical work experience that will result in valuable knowledge and marketable skills. The current unemployment rate for youth is 15.7% for those between the ages of 16 and 19.

Of the 155 youth who participated in the 2009 Summer Jobs Program, 94% completed the program successfully, with 83% earning an Outstanding Performance certificate.

This year, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds extended summer employment opportunities to an additional 53 participants. Through a partnership with Fort Detrick and NCI-Frederick, a number of these participants gained experience in high-growth, high-demand S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career fields. Positions included Data Analyst, Laboratory Aide, File Clerk and Assessment Support Specialist.

To learn more about Frederick County Workforce Services and/or how to participate as an employer in the next Summer Jobs Program, please visit or call 301-600-2255.

Culinary Destination: Frederick

Volt Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s appearance on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 6 series may have ignited the public’s awareness that Frederick is a great place to dine, but many have known for some time that Frederick has all the ingredients to emerge as a culinary destination. From award-winning local wines and beer to some of the region’s best farms, Frederick restaurants have practically everything in their backyard to create a memorable feast.

Many restaurants, like Volt, are turning to farm-to-table menu items that feature the unique tastes of Frederick County. Vegetables, grass-fed beef, greens, fruits and berries, and cheeses are just a few of the homegrown items featured in area restaurants. And visitors are noticing the difference.“Dining has always been a popular attraction for visitors,” says John Fieseler, Director for the Tourism Council of Frederick County. “But more and more people are asking where they can have a meal that features local ingredients.”

In addition to the ability to offer local produce, the restaurants in Downtown Frederick have an added benefit – the large number of food establishments within walking distance to each other. “We know that some businesses – like restaurants – generally do better when grouped together,” explains Kara Norman, Executive Director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership. In addition to farm-to-table offerings, diners can choose from the many American-style and ethnic restaurants, offering anything from hamburgers to creamy curry dishes. “Visitors can head downtown and know that there are 60-plus restaurants, specialty food shops, cafes, bakeries, and coffee and tea houses within just a few short blocks of each other. They all thrive as it establishes the area as a culinary and dining destination,” Norman explains.

In fact, plans to further establish Frederick as a dining destination are already underway. The Downtown Frederick Partnership, Tourism Council, and local restaurants are planning Frederick’s first Restaurant Week in the spring. “While we are still working on the specifics, there is a lot of enthusiasm from the restaurants about this project,” says Tiffany Ahalt, Tourism Marketing Manager. “It’s a great way to promote our vibrant dining scene.”

Frederick’s beverages are also earning a reputation as well. Many local restaurants proudly feature and pair their dishes with Frederick County beer and wine. Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery took the “Mid-Size Brewery of the Year” award at the Great American Beer Festival, placing first out of 76 others in the category and also taking home one silver and three gold medals for their brews. Brewer’s Alley was on the scene as well, winning a bronze medal. Frederick County’s six vineyards also offer palate-pleasing blends for wine enthusiasts. Notably, Black Ankle Vineyard’s 2007 Crumbling Rock was selected as the top wine in the 2009 Maryland Governor’s Cup Competition and its 2007 Leaf Stone Syrah won best Syrah in the 2009 Mid Atlantic Seaboard Competition.

“Between our high concentration of quality restaurants, great produce, and award-winning wines and beer, Frederick is becoming discovered for what it is – a culinary destination that lets the visitor experience how good Maryland fare can taste,” says Fieseler.

Story by Michelle Kershner
Communications Specialist, Tourism Council of Frederick County

photo caption: Volt’s co-owner and Chef Bryan Voltaggio serves up local produce at a Chef’s Challenge cooking demonstration at the West Frederick Farmer’s Market. Without being told beforehand what was available, Voltaggio created a dish from fresh foods found at the vendor stands.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Partners Launch New Information Technology Website

The City of Frederick Department of Economic Development, together with Frederick County Office of Economic Development and Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc.(FITCI), announces a new website for Frederick information technology businesses.

The website,, is accessible to anyone Frederick County involved in information technology work. There is no fee to be a part of the group and anyone interested can be involved. TechFrederick has three main priorities:
· Advocacy
· Communication
· Partnership

The goals are to provide an infrastructure to connect Frederick IT firms to each other, facilitating collaboration and partnerships between local technology firms; to business support resources in the community; and to cutting-edge information that keeps these IT companies competitive.

In addition to this new online resource DED, OED and FITCI will host bi-monthly TechFrederick breakfast meetings. These events will feature a range of topics relevant to the local IT community, as well as provide a forum for discussions, sharing and networking.

“Frederick has a strong and growing information technology sector. Today, there is no venue, no forum, for bringing these bright, entrepreneurial minds together,” says Heather Gramm, business development specialist with the City’s Department of Economic Development. “This new website, together with bi-monthly IT breakfast events, serve to bring those IT resources together and create a stronger community among individual firms.”

The next TechFrederick Breakfast is scheduled for Wednesday December 9th, 8:00am at the Municipal Annex Building, and will feature a discussion with representatives from SAIC-Frederick on recent ARRA monies related to IT and sub-contract opportunities.

For additional information, or to register for the TechFrederick Breakfast, visit the website at or contact the City of Frederick Department of Economic Development at (301) 600-6360.