Local woman appointed Road Scholar ambassador

Sally Matts was recently selected as Southern Maryland’s new ambassador to Road Scholar, according to a Road Scholar press release.

Road Scholar is a not-for-profit organization that provides educational learning adventures for adults. A university of the world, Road Scholar offers more than 5,500 programs annually in 150 countries around the world. Each is infused with the spirit of camaraderie and adventure.

As a member of the Road Scholar volunteer Ambassador Program, Matts is now available to share her experiences with local groups by giving informational lectures, free of charge, about Road Scholar and lifelong learning. Sally began traveling with Road Scholar in 2018 and has since attended programs focusing on national parks, Canada and whale watching.

Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, a not-for-profit in the learning sector since 1975. To learn more, visit www.roadscholar.org/press.

Survey: local business confidence dips to start 2019

The quarterly Maryland Business Climate Survey, a joint project between the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute and the nonpartisan Maryland Public Policy Institute, included more than 250 senior executives at Maryland businesses. It provides a quantitative glimpse into the sentiment of the state’s business leaders during the first quarter of 2019. Key findings include:

Declining optimism: Fewer firms are optimistic about market growth than in the fourth quarter of 2018. Further, 45% of businesses surveyed expected to increase employment in the coming year, down from 53%. Lastly, 43% of firms reported an increase in sales compared with the previous year, down from 57%.

Improving Outlook in Baltimore City: Fifty-two percent of firms in Baltimore City had a positive view of the state’s business climate while 15% had a negative view.

Declining Outlook in Washington Suburbs: Fifty percent of firms in the Washington suburbs had a positive view of the state’s business climate, down from 60% a year earlier.

Workforce Shortage Improving: Throughout 2018, more than half of Maryland businesses surveyed reported difficulties finding workers with the skills necessary to fill specific job requirements. In the first quarter of 2019, this fell to 39%.

Impact from Taxes: In the first quarter of 2019, 59% of businesses reported that taxes had some negative impact on their operations, down from 63% a year earlier.

Read the full survey findings and methodology at www.mdbusinessclimate.org.

LSM class of 2019 experiences energy, environment

On April 25 & 26, the Leadership Southern Maryland Class of 2019 participated in the last of nine educational sessions for LSM’s 2018-19 Executive Program — Energy and Environment.

Participants met with multiples businesses, owners and managers. They first met Captain Jack Russell, owner of Fins & Claws, who spoke on challenges facing the industry. Then they travelled to Exelon’s Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant where they received a briefing on nuclear energy and toured the facility.

At Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG Terminal, George Anas, external affairs manager state & local government for Dominion Energy, and Frank Brayton, director of LNG Operations, spoke with the participants on Dominion Energy’s transition to exportation of liquefied natural gas.

Participants visited the Loveville Produce Auction, where they observed interactions between the Mennonite and Amish agricultural community and local restaurateurs, grocers, and individuals who purchased from their harvests. Rob Plant, owner of Elements Eatery & Mixology in Lexington Park, shared his extensive knowledge and passion for buying local.

In Hughesville, participants were given a tour of the SMECO Solar Farm by Tom Dennison, SMECO’s managing director of government and public affairs. They also travelled to Farming 4 Hunger where they were introduced to tower gardens, one of the organization’s newest projects that provides outreach to local schools.

Leadership Southern Maryland is a nine-month tuition-based program and is designed and dedicated to educate and inspire a diverse group of current and emerging leaders to create collaborations and partnerships to impact the community needs of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties and incorporates a cross-section of the region to include diversity of geographic location, profession, ethnicity and gender.

University offers food-business workshop

The University of Maryland Extension offers a launch-pad business training workshop, Food for Profit, for budding food entrepreneurs. Scaling a specialty food business into a sustainable, profitable business requires advanced training and technical mentoring in the areas of: regulations, hazard analysis and critical control points, record keeping, recall procedures, preventive controls, product development and testing, packaging and labeling and marketing.

In an effort to supply resources and training materials for established food business, a new section, Food for Profit 2, has been added to the Specialty Businesses modules of the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center, www.extension.umd.edu/MREDC. The site now offers lists of both private and public food processing videos, articles, contacts for industry support agencies and facilities and published training materials that support scaling up entrepreneurial food businesses.

Catering now available at Wawa

Wawa Inc. announced its new catering offer that started May 6 in all stores chain-wide, with menu items perfect for family gatherings, social events and corporate meetings, according to a press release.

Catering offers individuals the ability to contact any store to place an order for pickup of breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. The local Wawa store will accommodate orders with 24-48 hours of lead time, depending on selections, prior to a desired pick up time.

Menu items include breakfast items such as coffee, bagels and doughnuts, Wawa favorites such as hoagies and popular sides including mac and cheese, chicken noodle soup, chicken corn chowder soup, and sweets and snacks including cookies and pretzels. A hoagie and soup/side box for 10 people can be purchased for $64.99 or $6.49 per person plus state taxes.

Wawa catering is available through order and pick up at any Wawa store. This new offer is a store-level program and currently not available for ordering online or delivery.

Harbor Freight Tools opens Waldorf store

Harbor Freight Tools, America’s leading retailer of quality tools at the lowest prices, held its grand opening of its new store in Waldorf on Wednesday, May 15, a press release read. The Waldorf store, located at 3386C Crain Highway, is the 10th Harbor Freight Tools store in Maryland.

The 15,000-square-foot store stocks a full selection of tools and accessories in categories including automotive, air and power tools, storage, outdoor power equipment, generators, welding supplies, shop equipment, hand tools and more. Harbor Freight’s hand tools come with a lifetime warranty.

Since the opening of its first store in 1980, Harbor Freight Tools now has nearly 1,000 stores across the country, 20,000 employees and more than 40 million customers. Harbor Freight Tools constantly works to improve the quality of its products and develop new lines of tools. This year, the company will introduce more than 600 new tools and accessories.

Harbor Freight Tools supports non-profit organizations that serve K-12 public education, first responders and veterans. For more information on the gift card donations program, visit harborfreightgivingback.org. In addition, Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. For more information, visit harborfreighttoolsforschools.org.

For more information about Harbor Freight Tools, visit harborfreight.com. Follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Curtis receives Realtor Emeritus status

Sandy Curtis was recently approved for a unique honor: Realtor Emeritus status by the National Association of Realtors, at the organization’s conference in Boston. This status is awarded to those who have been members of the National Association of Realtors for 40 years.

Curtis began working in real estate in June 1978 while she was off for the summer from teaching. She has spent 40 years working with families to find their dream homes and in many cases, years later selling that dream home to find another one that would fit their current family needs. She loves to see the many relaxed, smiling faces at settlement.

Curtis is currently a member of the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors and is with Residential Plus Real Estate Services in White Plains. Her hobbies include walking, traveling, playing tennis and especially playing with her granddaughter and making people laugh.

Renner tapped to lead nonprofit MES

Craig J. Renner was named earlier this year to lead communications programs for the Maryland Environmental Service, a $155 million-revenue, Baltimore area, not-for-profit organization.

Immediately prior to his new role with MES, Renner worked at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development as director of Maryland SmartBuy, a program designed to help first-time homebuyers eliminate college debt. Previously, Renner served as vice president of marketing and public relations for The St. Charles Companies, developers of a 9,100-acre planned community in Charles County. Renner is also a former president of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce and was public information officer for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake announces promotions

Community Bank of the Chesapeake announced the promotion of several employees to executive vice president.

Jim Di Misa, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Greg Cockerham, executive vice president and chief lending officer, retired earlier this year. Christy Lombardi became chief operating officer following Di Misa’s retirement on April 1. The bank implemented a leadership transition plan which also involved elevating other members of the bank’s management team to executive vice president:

• Daryl Motley, executive vice president, controller and treasurer, is responsible for oversight of treasury, asset liability management and SEC filings.

• Don Parsons, executive vice president, senior lender, is the lending teams in Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.

• Ernie Williams, executive vice president, senior lender, is responsible for overseeing the lending teams in Charles and St. Mary’s counties.

• John Chappelle, executive vice president, digital banking officer, leads the Commercial Services and Business Banker departments, while executing initiatives to further the bank’s progress in digital banking.

• Karrie Wood, executive vice president, director of retail banking, is responsible for overseeing the bank’s branch network and driving deposit and sales growth in the Maryland and Virginia markets.

• Lacey Pierce, executive vice president, administrative affairs officer, is accountable for corporate administration responsibilities and provide leadership to the Lending Administration, Marketing and Facilities departments.

• Patrick Pierce, executive vice president, Maryland market banking officer, oversees the Maryland lending teams and community wealth advisors.

• Talal Tay, executive vice president, risk officer, is responsible for enterprise risk management as well as oversight of the Compliance, Credit and Loan Review departments.

• Thomas Erickson, executive vice president, senior credit officer, leads the Credit Department and continues to monitor the bank’s loan portfolio.

• Tony Farland, executive vice president, senior lender, oversees the Virginia lending team and growth in that market.

AG settles with Maryland Speed

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) earlier this year announced that his Consumer Protection Division settled charges against Maryland Speed LLC, an online retailer specializing in the sale of auto parts, and its owner, Branden Farthing, according to a press release.

Charges against Maryland Speed and Farthing were initially brought in September 2018, and alleged that the retailer, based in Hollywood, Md., violated the Consumer Protection Act when it accepted payments for parts that it failed to provide to customers and refused to issue refunds. According to the settlement, at least 671 consumers placed orders with Maryland Speed but never received their purchased parts. Although many consumers were able to get refunds by contesting the charges on their credit cards, according to the Consent Order, at least 235 of those consumers are owed refunds totaling at least $220,877.14, the press release states.

The settlement requires Maryland Speed to stop selling parts it cannot provide and to provide the Consumer Protection Division with a $100,000 surety bond if it continues doing business in Maryland. The company and Farthing must also return all of the monies they owe to consumers and pay penalties and costs to the division in the amount of $100,000, which may be reduced if full refunds are made to consumers.

“This case demonstrates exactly why the Maryland Consumer Protection Act is so important,” Frosh said in the release. “Without the protections of the Act, customers who did not receive purchased goods from Maryland Speed, and were also denied refunds, had little recourse. Affected customers will now be able to obtain some restitution.”

Consumers who are owed refunds from Maryland Speed may call the Consumer Protection hotline at 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023.

Companies EARN money for training program

Transmosis announced in early February it was named a recipient of EARN Maryland funding, a competitive workforce development grant program, from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

With the grant funding, the Maryland Cyber Skills Alliance will provide qualified Maryland residents with full scholarships that fast track them into high paying cybersecurity careers. The intensive cybersecurity training and certification program launched March 4, with 20 applicants being offered full scholarships worth $10,000 each. Led by the Computing Technology Industry Association, the MCSA will provide essential training for both incumbent workers and hard-to-reach unemployed and underemployed populations in Maryland. Upon completing the two-month training and certification program, Transmosis will offer graduates employer placement support or opportunities.

“Maryland is the second in the nation for emerging technologies and innovation,” said acting Labor Secretary James E. Rzepkowski. “Despite our already high share of STEM professionals, Maryland is continually working to ensure a pipeline of talent that can meet our existing and future hiring needs within the technology sectors. Industry-led partnerships like that with Transmosis and CompTIA will help us achieve that by putting Maryland residents on a pathway to high-paying, successful careers in cybersecurity.”

Supporting grant partners include Point3 Security, Cybrary, TrainACE, the Federal Business Council and the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland.

To learn more, visit pr.mytransmosis.com.

Mission presents $1.3 million to USO

Mission BBQ co-founders, Bill Kraus and Steve Newton presented a donation of nearly $1.3 million to the United Service Organizations on May 16, according to a company press release.

This donation was made possible by the generous support of customers who purchased an American Heroes Cup in 2018. The check was presented to Elaine Rogers, president of the USO Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore. Available at 53 restaurant locations, $2 from the purchase of an American Heroes Cup was donated to the USO.

The partnership between the USO and Mission BBQ began in March 2016. The donation will attribute to a total of more than $2.6 million for the non-profit organization.

“It’s our honor and privilege to serve and support such a renowned and giving organization like the USO. Whose volunteers, programs, and entertainers have supported American Heroes around the world for the last 78 years,” Newton said in the press release.