Vorbeck plans high-tech plant on Eastern Shore
Vorbeck Materials of Jessup, which develops graphene nanomaterials with a variety of industrial applications, plans to purchase from the state a 42,000-square-foot plant in Pocomoke City, where it expects to create up to 50 jobs within three years.
“Maryland has been a terrific location for us to start and grow our business,” CEO John Lettow said in a statement.
“It is exciting to see a cutting-edge, innovative company like Vorbeck creating high-quality manufacturing jobs on the Eastern Shore,” Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said in announcing the deal Tuesday to the Maryland Municipal League.
Under the agreement, the state will provide incentive-based financing for the building, including deferred payments and interest forgiveness if the company achieves the employment goals. The company also may qualify for the One Maryland Tax Credit and the Job Creation Tax Credit, plus county incentives, according to the statement from O’Malley’s office. Vorbeck has received $650,000 in Enterprise equity investments and commitments from the state.
Vorbeck’s materials are used in the printed electronics, electric-vehicle charging and other markets.
O’Malley also announced this week that the designation of the Pocomoke-Worcester County Enterprise Zone, including an 845-acre zone comprising downtown Pocomoke, the Pocomoke Industrial Park, the riverfront industrial area and other parcels. The designation provides certain income and property tax credits to companies that create and retain jobs.
Montgomery program aims to boost small-business loans
A handful of Montgomery County banks plan to participate in a new county program designed to spur small-business lending and job growth.
Under Small Business Plus!, which is to launch next month, the county will deposit $10 million in these banks, which in turn will lend a total of $20 million to small businesses, according to a county statement.
Eligible banks must have headquarters in Montgomery County, have assets between $200 million and $5 billion, and meet certain safety and soundness standards established by the county.
Among the banks that plan to participate are Capital Bank of Rockville; Congressional Bank, EagleBank and Monument Bank, all of Bethesda; and OBA Bank of Germantown.
“This program is the right thing to do,” Capital Bank President Scot Browning said in a statement. “County money, derived from our local tax base, should remain in our community to support our community. By depositing taxpayer dollars in local banks to be lent back into the community is a win-win.”
EagleBank CEO and Chairman Ronald D. Paul called the program “a unique opportunity to partner with the Montgomery County government to enhance lending programs for small businesses located in the County. ... This support allows these local businesses to grow, create new employment opportunities and thereby improve the County economy.”
Medco elects Knott chairman
The Maryland Economic Development Corp. has a new chairman, Martin G. Knott Jr., co-owner of Knott Mechanical of Lutherville, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, and Wye River Technologies, which develops a wireless field force automation software for managing HVAC and plumbing services.
Knott succeeds Leonard R. Sachs, who was named chairman emeritus.
“My goal as the incoming chairman is to help Medco take our state’s economy to the next level by expanding the tremendous assets we have at our disposal, like the Port of Baltimore,” Knott said in a statement. “Our region has a chance to be the distribution center for much of the Northeast and Midwest, making this an exciting time.”
Knott “has a passion for maximizing our connection to the global seaport and advancing Maryland's future as a global leader through innovation and smart, collaborative investments between the public and private sectors,” Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said.
Medco also named Douglas Hoffberger vice chairman and Scott E. Dorsey treasurer. Hoffberger is president of KRC Investment Advisers, CPC and Keystone Realty. Dorsey is chairman and CEO of Merritt Properties.
Fed survey points to ‘modest’ activity
Business activity in June grew at a “modest pace” in Maryland, according to the latest monthly survey by the Federal Reserve of Richmond, Va.
The general business activity index fell to 7 from 12 in May. But the sales index rebounded to 14 after falling to minus-7 in May from 22 in April. Business spending on services and capital expenditures were flat.
“Businesses continued to report increases in employment, although the gains were more tempered in June,” according to a Federal Reserve statement.
Also, 30 percent of the roughly 75 respondents anticipate greater business activity in six months, down from 40 percent in May and 55 percent in April.
Bogus ‘green’ credits fueled executive’s lavish lifestyle
The owner of an alternative energy company was convicted this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of money laundering and violating the Clean Air Act, a scheme through which he falsely claimed $9 million in renewable fuel credits and spending the money to buy his Perry Hall house, along with luxury cars such as a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati, according to federal prosecutors.
Rodney R. Hailey, 33, owned Clean Green Fuel in the Baltimore area. He sold more than 35 million renewable identification numbers, each of which supposedly represented the production of two-thirds of a gallon of biodiesel fuel, but without actually producing the fuel, prosecutors said. Oil companies then bought these numbers to comply with federal regulations requiring them to subsidize the production of renewable fuel.
The company didn’t even have a facility that could produce the biodiesel fuel, prosecutors said.
The scheme was uncovered in July 2010 when federal inspectors visited the company’s headquarters.
Hailey faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud; 310 years for 31 counts of money laundering; and two years for violating the Clean Air Act. Sentencing is set for Oct. 11.
Economic agency launches mobile version
DBED has gone mobile.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, working with Towson University’s Division of Economic and Community Outreach, this week launched a mobile-friendly version of the agency’s ChooseMaryland.org website.
The site has business news and events, highlights Maryland’s competitive advantages and provides economic and employment data. It also encourages users to visit the agency’s website and social media channels.
“Our goal in creating the mobile-friendly website was to better inform and engage the business community, which is critical as we continue to move Maryland’s economy forward and create and retain jobs,” Secretary Christian S. Johansson said in a statement. “Over the past year, we have connected with more than 1 million visitors, and I look forward to working closely with our stakeholders to make our website an even more effective communications tool.”
Studies show that by 2014 more people will access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop computers, according to DBED.
Securities firm agrees to $20K fine
A Bethesda securities company agreed to a censure and $20,000 fine by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
FISN, dba First Internet Securities Network, also agreed to stop using the phrase "Federally Insured Savings Network."
Without admitting or denying the findings, First Internet consented to the entry of findings that its website included statements suggesting that it and its products were federally insured when they were not. The company’s website also suggested that the rates it found and published were the safest and highest rates and best yields available, when they may not have been.
Title and settlement executive gets 51 months in prison
An assistant manager with a Gambrills home title and settlement company was sent to prison this week for 51 months for his role in ripping off clients to the tune of $5 million over five years, according to federal prosecutors. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $3.4 million.
Todd R. Bettin, 42, of Crofton had been convicted in U.S. District Court of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the scheme to divert or hold mortgage payoff funds from clients’ closings on 17 Maryland properties.
Bettin was the assistant manager of At Home Mortgage, owned by co-conspirator Gary Pierce, 44, of Edgewater, who also owned and managed At Home Settlements in Gambrills, according to their plea deal. At Home Settlements provided settlement services and sold title insurance policies to clients who were buying homes or refinancing existing properties.
In 2007, Bettin refinanced the mortgage on his home and Pierce was the settlement agent. But instead of paying off the original mortgage, Bettin kept the payoff and never told the original lender that he had refinanced the property. The men also diverted or held mortgage payoff funds from clients’ closings, prosecutors said. Believing that the bank had been paid off, borrowers stopped making monthly payments on that mortgage. All told, the scheme netted $5 million.
Pierce previously was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $4.2 million.