Business Report: Maryland Exports Hit Record Level In 2014

BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport is in the midst of a $105-million expansion, to be completed in 2017, that will enhance international service from the air hub, which sits between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport is in the midst of a $105-million expansion, to be completed in 2017, that will enhance international service from the air hub, which sits between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (Photo:

By Shana Daley
From the May/June 2015 issue

Exports from Maryland reached a record high of $12.2 billion in 2014, up from $11.8 billion in 2013, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) recently announced. A report by the International Trade Administration shows top trade markets for Maryland goods and services in 2014 are Canada, which received $1.9 billion; Saudi Arabia, which received $915 million; and China, which received $714 million. Key merchandise export categories include transportation equipment ($3.5 billion); chemicals ($2.2 billion); and computer and electronic products ($1.6 billion). Maryland’s strong performance in 2014 helped the U.S. reach an all-time record of $2.35 trillion for exports of U.S. goods and services.

Last year was also a banner year for the Port of Baltimore, which recently announced that, for the fourth consecutive year, it had handled more cars than any other U.S. port. The Port also exported a record number of cars at nearly 260,000. In total, 29.5 million tons of international cargo crossed the Port’s docks in 2014, valued at $52.5 billion. In addition, Maryland’s BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport announced that a $105 million construction contract has been awarded to enhance and expand international service. The project is expected to be complete by 2017.

“The continued increase in Maryland exports, along with the Port of Baltimore hitting record cargo levels and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport expanding international service, shows measurable progress that we can build on,” said Mike Gill, DBED Secretary. “Continuing to grow Maryland’s international footprint means more jobs and more opportunities for Maryland businesses.”

​The International Trade Administration report also shows that Maryland exports supported roughly 55,000 U.S. jobs in 2013, which pay on average up to 18 percent more than non-export related industries. In addition, the majority of exports originated in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson metro area with $5.9 billion, followed by $27 million in exports from California-Lexington Park area in Southern Maryland. The Salisbury area on the Eastern Shore was part of a multi-state total of $1.2 billion in exports and the Hagerstown-Martinsburg, WV metro area reported $296 million in exports. The report noted that 7,386 Maryland companies exported in 2012, of which nearly 90 percent were small and mid-sized businesses.

Located within DBED, Maryland’s Office of International Investment and Trade works to stimulate foreign direct investment in the State, offers export assistance for small and mid-sized Maryland companies and coordinates international trade and investment missions and trade show opportunities for Maryland companies. For more information on resources available to business that want to market their products or services globally, visit


The Maryland Venture Fund (MVF) has invested $500,000 in Blue Pillar, an energy management solutions firm that moved its headquarters to Frederick from Indianapolis as part of the deal, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced. The company’s three software platforms help large organizations and complex facilities improve energy efficiency and reliability. The investment by MVF—Maryland’s primary venture capital (VC) program and one of the most active venture investors in the region—was part of a $14.6 million fundraising round. Also participating were a strategic investor in the energy space and EnerTech Capital Partners, a leading energy sector VC firm and o​ne the State has partnered with and invested through under the InvestMaryland program.

“We are excited to make this investment in Blue Pillar and thrilled to have them in Maryland. We can’t wait to work with the Blue Pillar team to help them grow here and continue their exciting and essential work,” said Gill. “Energy efficiency and reliability are crucial today and will only be more important tomorrow. Maryland is committed to supporting the small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators who are creating the good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that will employ generations of Marylanders.”

Mike Gill, Maryland DBED Secretary.
Mike Gill, Maryland DBED Secretary.

“Blue Pillar had a record year in 2014 for both revenue and new customer additions” said Tom Willie, CEO of Blue Pillar. “What is even more exciting is that we have already surpassed our entire 2014 sales bookings in the first two months of 2015. This financing enables Blue Pillar to scale our business, building on the breakout opportunities emerging in both our traditional and new customer segments. We can also continue to expand our Internet of Things (IoT), energy management, and centralized facility and distributed energy resource software solutions to meet these emerging marketplace needs.”

Blue Pillar is a leading provider of facility IoT and energy management solutions for complex single site and centralized multisite facilities. The Aurora, Avise Insite and Avise Foresite platforms connect, control and manage data to help organizations improve energy resiliency, efficiency and overall facility operations. Today, over 255 of the most critical, complex and geographically dispersed facilities—across healthcare, government, higher education and other industries—use Blue Pillar to manage their energy and power systems.

The Maryland Venture Fund is a regionally recognized leader in seed and early-stage investing and a national model for state-supported investment programs. With nearly two decades of experience and numerous successful investments, MVF invests in highly innovative technology companies across the full range of industry sectors including software, communications, cybersecurity and life sciences companies in the areas of healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics. The Fund was recapitalized in 2012 with $84 million raised through InvestMaryland. Two-thirds of the funding is being invested by carefully screened private venture capital firms. The remaining one-third is being invested by State programs, primarily the Maryland Venture Fund.


Gov. Larry Hogan is putting a foundation in place to spur economic growth in Maryland. The governor recently signed 10 newly enacted bills designed to encourage economic development and job growth in MD. The package includes:

  • HB 939: Proposed Regulations – Determination of Impact on Small Businesses, which establishes the Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Business in the Department of Business and Economic Development.
  • HB 940: Office of the Business Ombudsman – State Customer Service and Business Development Efforts Training Program, which establishes the State Customer Service and Business Development Efforts Training Program to improve customer service provided by state agencies to businesses and customers in the state.
  • HB 941: Task Force to Study Exemptions from Higher Education Ethics Requirements and Procurement Rules to Facilitate Technology Transfer, which establishes the aforementioned task force to review, study, and make recommendations regarding economic development activities, the purchase of research equipment and supplies, and the hiring of research personnel.
  • HB 942: Apprenticeship Pilot Program – Apprenticeship Maryland, which establishes a two-year pilot program to prepare students to enter the workforce.
  • HB 943: Economic Competitiveness and Commerce — Restructuring, which renames the Department of Business and Economic Development to the Department of Economic Competitiveness and Commerce and establish an Office of the Secretary of Commerce in the Office of the Governor.
  • SB 816: Maryland Higher Education Outreach and College Access Pilot Program, which targets low-income Maryland high school students and aims to increase the number of these students attending and succeeding in college.
  • SB 868: Public Utilities – Transportation Network Services and For-Hire Transportation, also known as the “Uber bill,” which authorizes the establishment of transportation network services in the state.
  • HB 235: Vehicle Laws – Manufacturers and Distributors – Sale of Electric or Non-fossil-Fuel-Burning Vehicles, also known as the “Tesla bill,” which authorizes a manufacturer or distributor to be licensed as a vehicle dealer if the manufacturer or distributor deals only in electric or nonfossil-fuel-burning vehicles.
  • HB 846: Motor Vehicle Administration – Commercial Driver’s License – Program for Veterans and Service Members (Troops to Trucks), which requires the Motor Vehicle Administration to establish a program to assist veterans and members of the military transitioning out of military service to obtain a commercial driver’s license, and would require the MVA to waive a skills test for participants.


The Maryland DBED has announced that the state has received $7.6 million from the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support its successful financial assistance programs for small businesses. It is the state’s second of three SSBCI allotments, with the first tranche of funds received in 2011. The funding, which was created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, has helped businesses across Maryland create and retain more than 1,500 jobs.

“Maryland is committed to supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that keep our economy strong, competitive and on the cutting edge,” said Gill. “SSBCI is an example of the tremendous potential our startups and small businesses have if they are given the right environment and resources to grow, thrive and create jobs for generations of Marylanders to come.”

“The State Small Business Credit Initiative continues to help connect sources of capital to the small businesses that need it,” said Jeffrey Stout, Director of the SSBCI program. “These funds will go a long way to provide loans and investments that will allow Maryland’s small businesses to hire, grow and further contribute to the local economy.”

SSBCI was created by President Obama in September 2010, giving the Treasury Department $1.5 billion to award to State programs. Maryland’s allotment is $23 million, divided into three tranches. The first $7.6 million tranche has bolstered DBED’s loan guarantee programs that help small businesses get private sector financing and the Department’s equity investment vehicle, the Maryland Venture Fund (MVF). The Department of Housing and Community Development has received nearly $1 million of the State’s allotment to date.

MVF, the state’s primary equity investment program and one of the most active venture investors in the region, received $4.8 million from the first tranche and will receive just over $7 million from the second. The Fund has invested in 14 companies using SSBCI funding, leveraging more than $180 million in private funding.

Those investments include $1 million in Salsa Labs, developer of an online fundraising, organization and communications platform for nonprofits, which moved its operations from Washington D.C. to Maryland. Optoro, which builds logistics software and counts among its clients most of the top-20 retailers in the U.S., received a $300,000 investment from MVF in 2012. Optoro ended 2014 with a $50 million fundraising round spearheaded by Silicon Valley stalwart Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and joined by firms led by former Vice President Al Gore and Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.

DBED loan guarantees using SSBCI funds have helped 22 companies. M. Luis Construction used a $2.5 million guarantee to land $8.6 million in loans to finance an expansion that added 56 jobs and retained another 183. Marlin Steel Wire, an advanced manufacturing firm in Baltimore City, received a $500,000 guarantee that allowed it to add 10 jobs and retain 26.


The Community College of Baltimore County will begin offering this fall an associates degree in design, fabrication and advanced manufacturing. The 60-credit degree will include courses on digital design, rapid prototyping, production, computer-aided machining, 21st-century manufacturing strategy and technology commercialization, according to a report in the Baltimore Business Journal.

Manufacturers increasingly are focused on three new-age skills: computer-assisted drafting and design; prototyping; and computer-assisted manufacturing. The new CCBC degree will combine the three. CCBC is primed for this type of degree with three labs—including an MIT FabLab—all under one roof. CCBC offers more than 200 associate degree and certificate programs and serves an undergraduate population of approximately 23,000. CCBC is home to the Technology and Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering (TIME) Center.

The TIME Center collaborates with Maryland community colleges and key Maryland stakeholders, as well as with college partners throughout the United States to educate current and future technology workers in coordination with emerging workforce needs. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the TIME Center is one of 33 Advanced Technological Education (ATE) centers around the country. ATE Centers are housed on community college campuses nationwide and serve as catalysts for creating collaborations between science and technology educators, industry, and business to align workforce training and education with technology trends and career opportunities.