By Jack Rogers
From the May/June 2018 Issue
Cybersecurity Ventures has released its first annual Cybersecurity 500 list, including 14 of Maryland’s hottest and most innovative companies.
The rankings, which were announced at the Cyber Investing Summit earlier this year, feature sectors ranging from social risk management, to data encryption, to cyber defense and digital forensics.
“I am proud to see 14 of our most innovative businesses named to this year’s Cybersecurity 500,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “These cutting-edge companies help protect our computers, our businesses, our identities, our federal agencies and beyond—and we are excited to see Cybersecurity Ventures recognize our talented tech workforce right here in Maryland.”
Two companies named to this year’s annual list are recent additions to Maryland’s IT and cybersecurity industry. BlueVoyant’s corporate headquarters is positioned in New York City, but with help from state funding, the company established a global cyber analytics center in Prince George’s County earlier this year. Silent Circle moved its headquarters to Howard County in 2017 after hiring CEO Gregg Smith, who previously led the Baltimore cybersecurity firm OptioLabs.
WORKFORCE TRAINING GRANTS AWARDED
Ten Maryland companies have been awarded a total of nearly $230,000 in workforce training grants to help increase production and boost efficiency from the Maryland Department of Commerce. Through funding provided by the Department’s Partnership for Workforce Quality (PWQ) program, the companies will collectively be able to send 240 employees to training sessions to learn new skillsets and train on advanced equipment.
The PWQ program was established in 1989 to invest in workforce training, particularly in the manufacturing and technology fields. After not receiving funding for a number of years, the program was recapitalized with $1 million in Maryland Commerce’s FY2018 budget and was part of Governor Larry Hogan’s 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative. Companies with qualified training projects will be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the cost.
“PWQ is a unique program in that it benefits the business by increasing productivity and improving customer service, while also training employees on new skill sets that help them advance their careers,” said Governor Hogan. “By recapitalizing this program with $1 million this year, we have been able to help more than two dozen small to mid-sized businesses fund workforce training.”
The companies receiving training grants include BTE Technologies (Anne Arundel County); Strouse (Carroll County); Plasticoid Company Inc. (Cecil County); Conveyor Handling Company, Inc. (Howard County); Atlantech Online, Inc. (Montgomery County); Emmes Corporation (Montgomery County); Eight O’Clock Coffee (Prince George’s County); Platform Aerospace (St. Mary’s County); Bikle Manufacturing Company (Washington County); and Jamison Door Company (Washington County).
Atlantech Online, founded in 1995 in Maryland as one of the early companies into the internet service provider industry, is using the funds to train 11 of their support staff on the latest tools and technologies for delivering business-class phone and internet service.
“The PWQ grant has allowed us to better support our growing customer base by ensuring that our employees master the technical skills needed for a successful career at Atlantech,” said General Manager Steve Royston. “This program has been fantastic.”
Bikle Manufacturing, Inc., named a 2016 Maryland Family-Owned Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration, provides machine tool rebuilding and other custom fabrication services in Smithsburg. The company intends to use the funds to train eight apprentices in the field.
“It is vital to Bikle and our community to give young men and women opportunities to learn,” said Joanie Gerber, CEO of Bikle Manufacturing. “The Washington County Apprenticeship Program along with PWQ grants gives a small business like ours the support to employ young people while further advancing our productivity.”
The Rockville-based biotech firm Emmes intends to use its more than $40,000 in PWQ funds to support the advanced skills training of 15 employees. Emmes describes itself as a “clinical research collaborator” working side-by-side with leading researchers to tackle challenges that have an impact on public health throughout the world since 1977. Vice President Jennifer Hester says the PWQ funds help the company maintain a competitive edge through technical training.
“Emmes is excited by the business opportunities provided by Maryland’s Partnership for Workforce Quality program,” Hester said. “The PWQ grant furthers Emmes’ ability to maintain the technical expertise amongst our staff needed to provide the level of professional support expected by our research partners in this competitive environment.”
“The PWQ program has proven to be an asset to companies of all sizes in both the urban and rural areas of our state,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “These training sessions help our local businesses meet market demands and continue to perform competitively right here in Maryland.”
To learn more about the Partnership for Workforce Quality, visit commerce.maryland.gov/pwq.
LIDL GEARING UP IN CECIL COUNTY
European grocery chain Lidl is getting ready to open a $100-million regional headquarters and distribution center in Cecil County as it gears up to expand into the United States.
To sustain the foreseeable growth in the Delmarva region, Lidl struck a deal with Cecil County officials to build a 754,000-square-foot regional distribution center in Principio Business Park near Perryville in 2016.
Cecil County Economic Development Director Chris Moyer said that the distribution plant already has some employees on-site. Lidl expects to hire 100 permanent full-time employees at its distribution center by December 2018, and could eventually employ up to 400.
“They’re on track to open this year, and in the next few months they’ll have troops on the ground,” Moyer said. “Lidl has a tremendous culture, and they’ll offer great benefits to its employees. If they need anything, they know we’re there.”
Lidl, which started as a neighborhood grocery store in Germany in the 1930s, has expanded to nearly 10,000 stores in 26 countries from Ireland to Greece, employing a total of 230,000 people.
The no-frills grocery retailer has expanded into carrying some household items, clothing and seasonal items and |is often compared with Aldi, another German no-frills retailer already established on U.S. Route 40 in Elkton at Chesapeake Boulevard.
Aside from Cecil County, Lidl also has regional headquarters being built in Virginia and North Carolina.
Lidl was approved for a $360,000 conditional loan from Maryland Department of Commerce’s Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund. Cecil County is providing a $20,000 workforce training grant and a $16,000 loan conditional on meeting job creation goals. The company also will be eligible for tax credits, including Maryland’s Job Creation Tax Credit and Enterprise Zones Property Tax Credit.
Cecil County’s desirable Mid-Atlantic location on the I-95 corridor in northeastern Maryland has made it one of the region’s most sought after business locations.
An $85 million distribution center is coming to Cecil County’s Principo Business Park between North East and Perryville: Project Melo, a U.S.-based manufacturer. Maryland’s Department of Commerce has conditionally agreed to loan Project Melo up to $1.2 million to assist in establishing a new one-million-square-foot-plus square foot distribution center in western Cecil County. Plans call for anticipated project costs of about $16 million for land acquisition, $65 million for construction and improvements and $3 million for equipment. Cecil County will contribute a $170,000 conditional loan.
Initially, Project Melo expects to hire 225 full-time employees at the site by the end of December 2021 and 225 additional full-time employees by the end of 2023.
Situated midway between the metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Philadelphia, Cecil County’s strategic location offers businesses overnight access to markets in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Main lines for CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads and Amtrak commuter lines provide additional transportation linkages. Nearly 1,900 Cecil County businesses employ over 24,300 workers, with approximately 40 of these businesses having 100 or more workers. Key employers include a host of world-class companies such as General Electric, Hollywood Casino, Orbital ATK, Restoration Hardware and W.L. Gore & Associates.
Cecil continues to draw interest from prospects representing a diverse industry base due to the county’s skilled, capable and available workforce, and strong partnerships.