February 28, 2019
Ball Talks Development, Bond Rating, Climate, Education, Opioids and More at First State of the County Address  

"Our Time is Now." That was the theme of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball's first State of the County Address. Ball spoke before a full room of nearly 500 Chamber members, elected officials and community leaders at our 14th annual State of the County Luncheon this week at Turf Valley Resort.

It was a wide ranging speech, covering many of the issues facing our county. But County Executive Ball spent much of the first half of the address on gratitude. Ball thanked Chamber President Leonardo McClarty for his introduction, but also, for his service on Ball's transition team, and the exploratory committee to create an Ellicott City Community Development Corporation. Ball also thanks Pete Mangione, Chamber Board Member, and General Manager of Turf Valley Resort for hosting the event, and of course, his wife Shani, and their two daughters. Ball also acknowledged Howard County Fire Fighter Nathan Flynn, who died battling a large house fire this year. Ball thanked his cabinet and staff as well as the Transition Team who recently presented him with their report. 
Ball spoke about nine listening sessions he and his team attended around the county during the first 60 days of his term, where they "did something that most politicians aren't well known for - we listened."

Although Ball explained that his first priority was to ensure that Howard County maintains its Triple A Bond rating, the first major theme to come out of the listening sessions, was community planning and development. Ball commented "there should be a balance between continuing to invest in new development and preserving the quality of life for our communities, the integrity of our infrastructure, and the natural beauty of our county." He says "we need to be more intentional about maintaining this balance, as we plan for continued growth and renewal of this great county for our children and generations to come."
Chamber President McClarty and County Executive Ball pose with Zaching Against Cancer's Executive Director, Felicia Fleming 
Ball touched on several other themes related topics including bike lanes, Bus Rapid Transit and work being done at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. 

Ball then described the county's public school system as our "calling card." He added that "our time is now to invest in each one of our schools and in all of our children, by increasing our commercial tax base revenue, ensuring education funding is a priority."

The County Executive moved on to discussing his "Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan," encouraging attendees to follow the plans progress at www.ecsafeandsound.org. Ball also touched on varied topics including climate change, the opioid crisis and a new program his administration will be launching called "Practice Howard, which is combining county resources and administrative support from the hospital to bring new primary care physicians into Howard County."

Ball closed his address by repeating the overall theme, "We are Howard County and 'Our Time Is Now.'"

Thank you to the hundreds of our members who were able to attend the event, including our Annual Partners, whose support allows us to hold important events like the State of the County throughout the year. 

Week 8 Legislative Update

As the session progresses, the weeks get busier and busier, with General Assembly members racing to introduce bills prior to crossover. The Chamber was also active this week, submitting written testimony, and in some cases, testifying in person. You can find a list of what we've taken action on this week below, with more detail available by clicking on the individual bills.

Minimum Wage (HB166) Leaves Committee, Goes to House Floor
Earlier this week, the House Economic Matters Committee (ECM) voted out HB 166 ("Labor and Employment - Payment of Wages - Minimum Wage and Enforcement ("Fight for Fifteen") with substantive changes to the bill as introduced. The bill was voted on and passed in the House chamber yesterday. You can find a copy of the Committee's copy of the bill, as amended, here READ MORE

SB945 - Sales and Use Tax
It was recently brought to the Chamber's attention that virtual offices were being classified as telephone answering services by the Comptroller's office which was going to significantly increase the sales and use taxes of these companies. Over 70% of Howard County Chamber members and businesses within Howard County have 25 employees or less.  READ MORE
Favorable Vote Encouraged for HB 640 - Peace Orders - Workplace Violence 
In past 18 months, there have been three incidents of workplace violence by either an employee, a former employee or an unhappy customer in Maryland. As a result of rising violence in the workplace, 11 states have enacted Workplace Restraining Order Laws allowing the employer to apply for a restraining order prohibiting acts of violence at the employer's workplace. READ MORE

Support for the Small Business Development Center Network Fund HB1327 / SB0243
Recognizing that the bulk of the Chamber's membership is small business as is Howard County in general, written testimony is being submitted in support of the altering the minimum required appropriation to the Small Business Development Center Network Fund at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus. If passed, $1,500,000 will be appropriated in fiscal year 2021 and increasing to $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter.
Sick and Safe Leave Modification for Seasonal Workers
Minimum Wage is the flavor of the day this year but for the past three years, Sick and Safe Leave dominated headlines. While not on everyone's radar screen, the subject is back for discussion. HB1300/SB681, if passed, would Increase the definition of seasonal worker from 106 to 120 days.  READ MORE
Got Questions About the Legislative Process?

Our partners in the Maryland Chamber Federation at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce have put together a helpful "2019 Advocacy Handbook" to guide you through the steps of the legislative process and understand more about how the Chamber is working for you as the voice of business.


Strategic Alliance Partner
This has been a great week for our membership team. We are happy to welcome the following new members to the Chamber!
In honor of our 50th Anniversary Year, we will be recognizing some of our original members throughout the year in this section of the newsletter!
  • Columbia Festival of the Arts - 22 Years
  • Revere Bank - 11 Years
  • SynergyFx - 11 Years
  • BBB of Greater Maryland - 7 Years
  • Intelligenesis, LLC - 4 Years
  • Girl Scouts of Central Maryland - 3 Years
  • Huddles Jones Sorteberg & Dachille, PC - 2 Years
Getting to Know Marcellus Wade and Black Fox

At the Chamber, we are so proud of our members, and as this Black History Month comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to shine the spotlight on another one of our amazing members. This week, we spoke to 

Tell me about your company and how you got started.

Black Fox was launched May 1, 2018 in Columbia, Maryland. I started the organization based upon a serious need of continuity and disaster recovery planners in the federal and state government sectors. We also focused our efforts in training our customers in managing their business continuity programs as well. After attending numerous networking events and obtaining the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business and Maryland Minority Business Enterprise certifications, we were awarded our first government contract to perform various business continuity tasks on a 12 month contract.

Describe one of your proudest moments in business

My proudest moment was the time we made our first hire. We hired a military veteran to perform on a federal level contract we were awarded. Not only did this victory help our organization grow, we were able to give back to our military community and support their personal growth as they transition to the civilian sector. Our overall goal is to sustain a military staff population of 75%.

What advice would you give to aspiring black entrepreneurs?

My best advice is to practice and exercise the three C's of Communication:  Collaborate, Coordinate and Cooperate. By practicing these three C's, you will have better success in growing your business. There are tons of opportunities for black entrepreneurs locally and globally. We must communicate and cooperate to help one another grow. Lastly, my greatest advice is to never compete with other black entrepreneurs. There are plenty of opportunities to partner, so that we can help each other's respective businesses grow.
Union Home Mortgage Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Congratulations to one of our newest members, Union Home Mortgage, on a successful grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony!

CA's Board of Directors Considering Changing Classification

The Columbia Association's Board of Directors is considering requesting a chance from the Maryland General Assembly that would classify Columbia Association as a "community benefit association" instead of a homeowners association (HOA) under Maryland state law.

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