Thursday, September 17, 2015

GROW: Volume 6

This series is part of a monthly 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 ,34 and 5.

Akonni Biosystems
With just two employees, Akonni Biosystems, a molecular diagnostics firm that develops, manufactures and markets genetic testing devices, was one of the first clients at the Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc (FITCI) when it opened in 2005. 

In one year, Akonni had grown to six employees and graduated from FITCI in 2007. During this time, they added eight more employees and moved to a 20,000 square foot space on Sagner Ave. From 2007-2008, they doubled their staff to 28 and from 2009-2010, they doubled again to 50 employees.  In 2011, Akonni entered into a licensing agreement  with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to aid in fighting potential bioweapons. Around 2011-2012, markets became volatile and Akonni took this time to reorganize and change their business plan, capitalizing on grant funding with less staff. In 2013, Akonni received a $30 million dollar grant for five years. Now with a staff of 20 employees, and seven patents to their name, restructuring has positioned them for a better future.

ALTEK Information Technology
ALTEK’s Founder and President Anne Lipman started ALTEK from her Frederick, MD home in 2004.  An IT staffing and project support company with a niche in health information technology, ALTEK grew quickly and planted its headquarters at Frederick’s Glass Factory in 2006.  In 2012, the company established a second location in Chicago, IL to better serve clients in the Midwest.

In 2014, the company was recognized by Inc Magazine’s 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America, coming in at number 2,627.  Reporting at 3-year growth rate of 143%, ALTEK generated $26.2M in revenue in 2013.  Today with 14 employees in Frederick, two in Chicago and 130 consultants and contractors working in the field for ALTEK, the company is continuing to expand and thrive in Frederick.

AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is a nonprofit individual membership association. AOPA was founded in 1939 with the mission to make general aviation flying safer, more affordable, and more fun. Today, AOPA is the world’s largest and most influential general aviation association. AOPA employs a staff of approximately 240 and is headquartered convenient to the Frederick Municipal Airport. The staff includes experts on virtually every aviation subject imaginable. Approximately forty percent of AOPA’s staff are pilots.

In 1983, AOPA moved from Bethesda, MD to Frederick and at the time, had 263,000 members. By 2010 more than 400,000 individuals were AOPA members. Whether a pilot, aircraft owner or an aviation enthusiast, AOPA has the resources needed to keep skills sharp, stay informed and remain connected with the aviation community.  AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, to flight planning products and opportunities.

Celebrate Agriculture at the Fair and with Homegrown Frederick

There are two ways to celebrate Frederick County's longstanding and rich agricultural traditions this week. With 65% of Frederick County's land zoned for agriculture, farming plays more than just a large role in our economy, it provides experiences for everyone of all ages.

The Great Frederick Fair continues the tradition beginning tomorrow with its 153rd year in Frederick County. The Fair exists to promote agriculture and the education of our youth about the industry. The Fair also happens to provide a wonderful sensory treat with sights, sounds and tastes that only come to town once a year!

The electronic version of the popular Homegrown Frederick, OED's annual publication in partnership with Frederick Magazine, is now available to peruse online. If you prefer a printed copy, please contact our office at 301-600-1058 or Copies may also be picked up at Farmers Markets, various farms in Frederick County, Tourism and more. You can also pick up a copy at the Fair by visiting our table in City Streets, Country Roads.

Homegrown Frederick provides readers with a complete look at agriculture today in Frederick County. A listing of CSAs, Farmers Markets, Orchards, Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries, and a directory of over 60 farms with pick-your-own options, highlights and beautiful photography throughout.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Family Festival at the Farm 2015: A Self-Guided Farm Adventure

There's a wagon load of fun waiting in Frederick County every third weekend in October when close to two dozen farms open up their doors for self-guided tours.

Pack up the family and visit some of the hardest working farms in Frederick County.  Travel the county during the weekend of October 17-18 and you'll find 16 farms who have activities planned from hayrides to sampling apples to scarecrow making. Admission is free but some farms may charge a fee for activities.

While you’re enjoying your time on these farms, you and your family will also be learning about agriculture, one of Frederick County’s most important industries.

2015 Participating Farms
1. Brookfield Pumpkins
2. Catoctin Mountain Orchard
3. Gaver Tree Farm
4. Glade Links Farm
5. Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch
6. Lawyer's Farm
7. Mayne's Tree Farm
8. Oakie Doke Farms
9. Persistence Run Farms
10. Rocky Point Creamery
11. Scenic View Orchards
12. South Mountain Creamery
13. Sycamore Spring Farm
14. Thanksgiving Farms
15. Three Streams Farm (cancelled)
16. Twin Hills Farm
17. Whispering Meadows Alpaca Breeders
18. Rights of Man Farm
19. Nick's Organic Farm

Please note:
• Some activities may require a fee and/or parental supervision.
• Some activities may be cancelled due to inclement weather.
• Schedule and events are subject to change.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ask Debbie DeChambeau: Q & A with Maryland Women Business Center’s Frederick County Business Counselor

What is the Maryland Women’s Business Center?
The Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) helps women and men start and grow successful women-owned enterprises positioned for long-term growth through training, resources, access to funding, and individual assistance.

One of our special initiatives is the StartRight! Business Plan Competition, which is an annual program where cash awards are provided.  The biggest bonus of the competition is the feedback that participants can receive on their business plan from the experienced judges that review them.

What are some of the training programs provided?
Our core programs include the ABCs of Starting a Business and Writing a Successful Business Plan.  In these programs we provide a thorough overview of what individuals need to consider when venturing into entrepreneurship, and a roadmap for creating their business plan.

During the ABCs of Starting a Business program, we try to have a business attorney available to discuss the different entity structures, and to answer questions on the next steps for establishing the business. Each month, we offer a variety of other topics including marketing, bookkeeping, funding, and government contracting.

Do you offer counseling?
MWBC offers both individual and group counseling.  The one-hour, individual sessions are free for participants.  We generally start with a review of the business plan to use as a guide for further discussions.  Depending on the business owner’s needs, we can provide guidance on a broad range of topics, and refer to our partners when needed.

Our group counseling program is held once a month, and is designed to be a business roundtable format for up to five participants to discuss their business challenges and receive valuable feedback. This two-hour, group session is free for participants.

What types of resources do you have available?
Our website is our best resource.  You’ll find a listing of our programs, recommended readings, and links to different resources in the region.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for real-time updates. Our business start-up-guide not only provides a step-by-step guide to getting a business started, it also provides links to the different organizations and resources needed.

Every quarter we offer a Certifications Workshop, which is one of our premier programs.  We feature the local, state, and federal certifications available to small, minority, and women-owned businesses, and have speakers from each of the programs providing specific details on how to get started.

How do you differ from SBDC and SCORE?
In many ways, we offer similar services, however, our focus is on women-owned businesses.  We are able to address the unique issues women face in business, which include family issues and funding obstacles in an environment that is comfortable, supportive, and non-threatening.

To make an appointment for free counseling, please contact Business Counselor Debbie DeChambeau in Frederick County via email at or phone 301-315-8091.

Friday, September 4, 2015

FITCI to Graduate BioFactura and Poochon Scientific

The Frederick County Office of Economic Development was joined by Maryland State Delegate Kathy Afzali, former U.S. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and other state and local representatives to tour BioFactura and Poochon Scientific's new manufacturing facility located on Progress Drive in Frederick, MD this week.

Both companies will be graduating from the Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc (FITCI) and co-locating to 5500 sf of space located at 8435 Progress Drive with plans to occupy their new space in October 2015. They expect to double their workforce this year to 15 employees and plan to add additional employees next year.

For over 10 years, BioFactura has been advancing life-saving medicines from the research bench to the patient using its innovative drug development and manufacturing technologies. Current and past programs include biodefense drugs against smallpox and Ebola, novel medicines for cancer, and low-cost/high-quality biosimilars for autoimmune and infectious diseases.  In September 2014, the company along with its collaborators was awarded an NIH Partnership grant to develop a drug for Ebola.

Founded by research scientists in 2012, Poochon Scientific is a protein analysis company with expertise in the fields of protein biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics, and are capable of combining these fields together to maximize the power of mass spectrometry (MS)-based quantitative proteomics technologies.

About the Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc
FITCI is a non‐profit organization created for local entrepreneurs seeking offices, laboratory facilities, and business support services. FITCI’s main goal is to foster entrepreneurship in Frederick County and accelerate the development of commercially viable businesses generating continued job growth.

FITCI’s all-inclusive office space offers the entrepreneur a fully equipped office in conjunction with a complete array of administrative support services. Office spaces range in size from 100 - 220 square feet and currently, office spaces are 90% leased.  Wet lab spaces range from 225 – 525 square feet and are 100% leased at the time.

Since 2013, FITCI has assisted over 35 Frederick-based businesses that have generated:
  • 268 direct jobs
  • $16.6 million in annual payroll
  • 76,500 square feet of leased space in Frederick County
  • $27.6 million in annual revenues
  • Annual direct tax base (real estate and county income tax) contributing over $395,110 annually to Frederick County
  • Multi-million dollar downstream economic impact that includes indirect jobs, sales tax, rent, and local purchases from other businesses for supplies, materials, etc. totaling $74.7 million annually

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to Write a Press Release that People Will Read

Bring your lunch and plan to attend this FREE 90-minute seminar for Frederick County businesses on how to get your news in front of the people you want!
Vivian Laxton, Communications Director for Frederick County Government, will go over the nuts and bolts of an effective press release, how to choose the appropriate channel and outlet for your news and how to build media relationships.
Attendees will also receive information about how to use PRFrederick, a free online press release tool that any business in Frederick County can use as service of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development and City of Frederick Department of Economic Development.
Space is limited so please sign-up today.  In celebration of Economic Development Week in Maryland, this event is sponsored by: