Thursday, July 30, 2015

Best Places to Work in Frederick County Honored

The best places to work in Frederick County were honored this evening in front of a standing room only crowd at the Delaplaine Visual Arts & Education Center.

The Best Places to Work Campaign is a partnership of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, City of Frederick Department of Economic Development, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and Frederick County Workforce Services. Now in its 13 year, the survey opens up every spring to all Frederick County businesses and employees and winners are selected based on employment size, median salary, voluntary turnover rate, benefits, leave options, charitable contributions, professional growth opportunities, diversity and sustainability practices.

Taking home the major category awards were:

Small Employer (1-10 employees)
Honorable Mention - United Way of Frederick County

Medium Employer (11-50 employees)
Winner - NASW Assurance Services (ASI)
Honorable Mention - Go Ape

Large Employer (51-200 employees)
Winner - Nymeo
Honorable Mention - U.S. Silica

Major Employer ( 200+ employees)
Winner - AstraZeneca
Honorable Mention - Plamondon Companies
From L to R: City of Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Tony Benedetto - NASW Assurance Services (ASI), Michelle Michael - AstraZeneca/MedImmune, Victoria Johnston - Nymeo, Richard Fouke - Antietam Technologies, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner
In addition to category award winners, six businesses were recognized with the “Unsung Hero in the Workplace” award. This award recognizes owners or presidents of companies who go above and beyond to connect with their employees. The 2015 Unsung Heroes in the Workplace are:
From L to R: City of Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Danny Farrar - Soldierfit, Michael Tash - Essential Systems Solutions, Inc, Peach Lapkoff - Olde Towne Title, Galen Clagett - Clagett Enterprises, Brett Hess - Business Management Company, Inc, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. Not pictured: Randy Jones - Regent Education.
Two surprise awards were given out this year for "Best Entrepreneurial Opportunity" and "Most Creative Workplace Environment". Winning the "Best Entrepreneurial Opportunity" this year was Edward Jones with 10 locations throughout Frederick County. The "Most Creative Workplace Environment" Award went to CAS Engineering.

From L to R: City of Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Jay Wandalowski - Edward Jones Investments, Linda Hobbs - Edward Jones Investments, Curt Schreffler - CAS Engineering, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner
Helen Propheter, Director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development said, "These companies join an elite group of businesses committed to retaining exceptional employees and their success. We are proud of the 2015 Best Places to Work recipients and proud that they chose Frederick County as their place to call home."

To view additional photographs from the evening's event, please click here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

June Economic Indicators Reflect High Demand for Property

The latest edition of Frederick County's Monthly Business Economic Indicators shows that residential and commercial property is in hot demand in Frederick County.

According to CoStar, Frederick County had a significant reduction in the commercial real estate market vacancy rates for 2nd quarter 2015. Overall vacancy in the commercial market is down 9.5% compared to the five-year average of 13.6%. The industrial and flex markets are proving to be in high demand with vacancy rates for industrial properties at 7.5%, compared to the five-year average of 12.2% and in the flex market, the vacancy rate is 11.1%, a 6.1% decrease from the five-year average.

For the month of June, Frederick County also saw the largest dollar value in commercial and industrial construction costs at $83 million compared to the five-year average of $9.8 million.  $78 million of this total was from the City of Frederick with construction value at a five-year high. The total value of commercial and industrial construction in the City of Frederick this month alone has already more than doubled annual totals from 2013 when the annual value was at a high of $49.7 million.  The number of commercial and industrial permits pulled in Frederick County year-to-date is 523, a 28% increase over the five-year average of 409.

June 2015 also reflects a a sizable increase in the number of residential homes sold last month.  There were 483 housing units sold, representing a 53.8% increase from June 2014.

The number of  Frederick County businesses licenses issued was at an annual high of 68. As unemployment continues to remain lower than the state and national averages, Frederick County's business climate remains robust.  Please download a full copy of the report here or contact Sandy Wagerman, Research Specialist, with any questions about Frederick County's Monthly Business Economic Indicators at 301-600-1578.

Monday, July 27, 2015

GROW: Volume 4

This series is part of a blog series about Frederick County businesses that grow and expand. It is a snapshot of Frederick County business success stories. Check back each month for more businesses that grow in Frederick County or read Volumes 1, 2 and 3.

Grove Resource Solutions, Inc (GRSi)
GSRi has more than 200 employees around the globe working on projects, many with the highest national security clearances available. Housed in a former garage at founder Deborah Grove’s Frederick home, the company’s moved its 15 person headquarters to Westview Drive in 2011. THE FBI, NIH and Walter Reed are just a few of their clients.

In 2005, company's revenues were less than $8 million. In 2010, they achieved record revenues with well over 100% growth of the company in the prior 3 years.  That has grown to around $20 million today. Their staff retention is 95 percent, virtually unheard of in many government contracting firms.

GRSi is has additional locations in SC and most recently in 2014, opened an office in VA.  Their record success obtaining contracts and resulting operation's growth has led to the Charleston, SC office needing more space and they moved to an expanded location in April 2015.

Inc. magazine ranked GRSi on its annual Inc. 500|5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.  GRSi was ranked #42 in growth for 2012 and the 38th fastest growing private engineering company in the country.  In 2012 they were awarded the Gov’t Contracting Company of the Year by the Tech Council of MD.  David Affeldt, President and CEO said, “As each year is built on the previous one, 2015 is looking bright and strong.”

South Mountain Creamery
After decades of struggles in dairy farming, Randy and Karen Sowers built Maryland’s first on the farm milk processing plant in 2001 at what is now known as South Mountain Creamery. The first home deliveries began in 2001 with only 13 customers and they delivered milk out of their Ford Explorer.

By 2004, they had grown to 1,000 customers all within a 50-mile radius of the farm.  In 2007, South Mountain Creamery was featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post and had 7 milk trucks with 2,200 customers. They remodeled their facility that year and were proud to install new American-made equipment. By 2009, they expanded deliveries into Falls Church and Baltimore, had over 3,000 customers and added ice cream deliveries to their menu. In 2011, they expanded again into the Anne Arundel County and Annapolis markets and jumped to 7,000 customers. In 2013, Animal Planet television installed 11 cameras at the Creamery to feature live streaming video online of their chicks and calves with 100,000 people tuning in to see the project launch.

Today, South Mountain Creamery has 83 employees with 20 delivery trucks and over 8,500 customers. They host 2 large successful events annually which draw thousands of people to the Middletown area.

Southern Research Institute
Southern Research, a 501(c)3 medical research firm of scientists and engineers, is based in Birmingham, Ala., and has at six labs and offices across the country with 453 employees company-wide.

In July 2015, they landed a seven-year contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease with a ground-breaking federal grant worth up to $22 million which will allow researchers to develop assays, or tests, that can identify HIV that remains in the body after anti-HIV drugs. The Frederick lab, has a 24-year history in HIV drug discovery, employs 55 people, and will lead the work on the HIV contract that could develop the cure for HIV, addressing a key barrier towards eradicating HIV.

Southern Research has been around since 1941. They opened up their Frederick doors in 1992. The company states they do not often have positions available because they carefully plan for fluctuations and they have an very low turnover rate.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Challenge Accepted! The Buy Local Challenge Begins July 18th to the 26th

The Buy Local Challenge has become an annual staple in the celebration of Maryland's rich agricultural history. During the last week of July, people across the state of Maryland pledge to purchase at least one locally produced food item each day during Buy Local Week.

In Maryland, if every household purchased just $12 worth of farm products for eight weeks (basically the summer season), over $200 million would be put back into the pockets of our farmers.

7 Ways to Accept the Buy Local Challenge in Frederick County

Frederick County leads the state in number of farms and farmland acres so fortunately, finding fresh food is easily accessible in Frederick County! Here are 7 easy ways:
  1. To search for local farms that have what you're looking for, the state has created a helpful search tool to link farmers with consumers called Maryland's Best.
  2. Frederick County is home to two of the state's eight dairy farms on the Maryland Ice Cream Trail that offer delicious on the farm ice cream: Rocky Point Creamery and South Mountain Creamery.
  3. Perhaps you might enjoy visiting farmers' markets - there are 13! To view a list, please click here. Can't make it out to a market? The Frederick County Virtual Farmers' Market is open 24/7.
  4. To read all about our farms and view a listing, download your copy of Homegrown Frederick or call us at 301-600-1058 and we are happy to mail you one. 
  5. Have you ever thought about joining a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to get locally grown products all year long! for a list of CSAs in Frederick, check out page 27.
  6. Many of our local grocers and restaurants buy locally grown products. Ask your favorite retailer and restaurant where they get their food, wine and spirits from and pledge to only buy locally grown selections during the week of July 18-26.
  7. Frederick's Wine Trail is a beautiful way to experience the scenery and support local growers.
A Few Reasons to Buy Local (from

You’ll Get Exceptional Taste and Freshness   
Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances. Local farmers can offer varieties bred for flavor rather than for long shelf life.

You’ll Support Independent/Family Farms and a Stronger Local Economy
There's never been a more critical time to support your farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer. Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your own community.

You’ll Enhance Your Family’s Health and Safety  
Locally grown food retains more nutrients and is less likely to cause foodborne illnesses than food that is shipped from far away. Buying local enables you to choose farmers who may avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified seed.

You’ll Help Protect the Environment 
Green areas that farms provide help to recharge our aquifers and cleanse the air. Buying from a local farm cuts down on the distance food travels, reducing the consumption of oil and carbon emissions nationwide.

When you buy local, you help to ensure that the benefits of our farms survive for many years to come.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Minority Business Q&A with Sherman Coleman

Sherman Coleman, Business Development Specialist for the Office of Economic Development is answering questions today on minority businesses in Frederick County. Sherman coordinates the Frederick County Minority Business Vision, launched in 2015, and aimed at providing outreach services to minority businesses.

What are the fastest growing minority groups in Frederick County?
The fastest growing group in Frederick County is the Hispanic population.  From 2000-2013, Frederick County had the highest increase of this minority group in the state of Maryland (316.4%). Frederick County has the 3rd highest percentage of Hispanic population in Maryland at 8.0% of the total population being Hispanic.

Frederick County also had the highest percentage of increase in Asian population from 2000-2013 among jurisdictions in Maryland representing a 212.5% increase.

Percentage Change by Non-Hispanic Race and Hispanic Origin 2000-2013
Frederick County
% Change
White Alone
Black or African American Alone
American Indian and Alaska Native Alone
Asian Alone
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone
Two or More Races
Source: Maryland Dept of Planning, from the Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau

Please share the local programs available to assist minority-owned businesses and aspiring minority-owned entrepreneurs.
There are several active groups that assist specific issues that minority businesses face in Frederick County and here are a few: Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Centro Hispano de Frederick, Asian American Center of Frederick, Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, Women's Business CenterGolden Mile Alliance and the Small Business Development Center.

Please share the state programs available to assist minority-owned businesses and aspiring minority-owned entrepreneurs.

  • The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) connects small, minority- and women-owned businesses to State contracting and procurement opportunities through the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Small Business Reserve (SBR) programs.
  • The Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Account-Video Lottery Terminal Fund (VLT) provides 1.5% of the proceeds from video lottery terminals (slots) to be distributed in targeted areas surrounding five Maryland casinos. The other 50% will be available to small, minority and women owned businesses located throughout Maryland. Eligible fund managers oversee the distribution of video lottery terminal funds.
  • The Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) promotes the viability and expansion of businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs. MSBDFA uses include working capital, supplies and materials, machinery and equipment acquisition, land acquisition and real estate improvements. Other uses include the purchase of an existing franchise, construction or renovation and franchise fees or obtaining bid, performance and payment bodes for contracts, which receive the majority of their  funding from federal, state, or local government.

  • How can a person or a business get started in these programs if they are interested? 
    Locally, the Office of Economic Development and an advisory committee has started the Frederick County Minority Business Vision Initiative whose mission is to bring the Frederick County minority business community together by providing a forum for networking, sharing of information, lessons learned and successful growth business strategies that inspire creativity and innovation leading to expanded business growth opportunities. For a schedule of these events, please contact me at or call me at 301-600-2137.

    What do you see as trends for minority-owned businesses and aspiring minority entrepreneurs in Frederick County?
    The trend is start up business from those individuals with very creative and innovative ideas. They start out as home based an branch out to larger facilities. Minority-owned businesses are primarily family based and community involved.  The trend seems to be geared toward a younger population with an equal percentage between male and female. They are based more toward Central Frederick such as Frederick City rather than on the outskirts and outlying municipalities.

    Monday, July 6, 2015

    An Agricultural Q&A with Anne Bradley

    Thank you to Anne Bradley, Ag Preservation Administrator for Frederick County Government and Agricultural Business Development Specialist for the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, for answering questions about Frederick County's strong and deeply rooted agriculture industry.

    What major agricultural industries does Frederick County have?
    Frederick County has an extremely diverse agricultural profile. We rank #1 in Maryland for turkeys, cattle and equine inventory, number of organic farms and the number of corn for silage acres and forage acres. We also rank #1 in Maryland for the value of sales for dairy products, cattle, hay and other crops.

    Please share the agricultural programs to available farms looking to expand their existing business or establish a farm in Frederick County.
    Frederick County businesses have access to the Small Business Development Center that provides services such as assisting in writing business plans or loan applications. The Frederick County Office of Economic Development provides marketing assistance through our press release program, our website and Homegrown Frederick publication partnership with Frederick magazine. We also have a "Homegrown Here" campaign where farmers can utilize branding at-cost to highlight their agricultural products that are locally grown. In addition, there may be other state and local tax credit programs available to qualified farms.

    How can a business get started in these programs if they are interested?
    We offer assistance by visiting our office located at 118 N. Market St., by calling 301-600-3037 or by emailing me directly at to set up an appointment.

    What do you see as trends in local agriculture?
    Diversification has been the latest key word for our agricultural operations. We are seeing more field to product operations such as creameries and local vegetable stands. We also have a strong influx of farm wineries and farm breweries taking advantage of local products for alcoholic beverages.

    What is the overall outlook for the ag industry in Frederick County?
    The outlook for the local agricultural industry in my opinion is excellent. Frederick County has more farmers and farmland than any other county in Maryland. We have an excellent and supportive farming community with successful agricultural support industries that keep our farmers going. We have the regional population base that keeps our farm products moving off the shelves. It's an exciting time to be involved in Frederick County agriculture!

    Wednesday, July 1, 2015

    No Interest Loans Available for Military and Veterans in Maryland

    The Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business No-Interest Loan Program (MPVSBLP) was created in 2006 and is administered by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in consultation with the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA). The program accepts applications from small businesses that employ military reservists and National Guard members called to active duty, as well as companies employing service-disabled veterans. Veterans who own a small business are also eligible to apply for funding.

    The Military Personnel and Veteran-owned Small Business Loan Program (MPVSBLP) provides no interest loans of up to $50,000 from one to eight years. Eligible applicants include businesses owned by military reservists and National Guard members called to active duty, and small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees that employ them.

    For more information about the program​, eligibility details and how to obtain an application contact:
    Mark Hendricks​, Grant Administrator/MD Veterans Trust for the Maryland Department of Veterans ​​Affairs at 410-974-2399.

    Please note that applications for this program will not be accepted again until October 1, 2015.