About two years ago, M&T Bank CEO Robert Wilmers vowed before Vice President Joe Biden and SBA officials that the bank would increase its small-business lending by $50 million above the 2010 level each of the following three years.
From September 2011 to September 2012, the bank increased lending by $196 million. And in this past September-to-September period, M&T saw a $259 million rise.
In Montgomery and Frederick counties, M&T increased small-business lending in the past year by 22 percent. The bank has 32 branches in Montgomery and Frederick, the fifth most behind Capital One’s 67, PNC’s 47, SunTrust’s 40 and Bank of America’s 39.
Among the recipients was Mount Airy engineering and technology federal contractor Thornberry Consulting, which plans to add about 20 employees in the next five years to its 26-strong workforce.
There is still a degree of uncertainty among businesses related to issues such as taxes and regulations, but most of the ones M&T deals with are “cautiously optimistic” about the economy, said Eric Feldstein, business banking market manager for Greater Washington, Central Maryland and Virginia.
“More are looking at purchasing buildings and enhancing their overall business activity, instead of just weathering the storm as they were doing a year or two ago,” he said.
— Kevin James Shay
As Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to lure businesses from Maryland to his state, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced this week that Maryland attracted 10-employee Weather Analytics from Alexandria, Va.
The 1-year-old company received a $500,000 investment from the state’s InvestMaryland program, part of a $2 million fundraising round, in moving into a Silver Spring office. Proximity to the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service in Silver Spring and University of Maryland were factors for the move, Weather Analytics CEO Bill Pardue said.
“We’ve just recruited two outstanding scientists from their graduate program,” Pardue said in a statement. “In addition, many of our investors live in Maryland, and the leadership of the Maryland Venture Fund in our recent capital raise is key to building our national and international expansion programs.”
Weather Analytics delivers climate and weather data from every country on the planet to customers that include U.S. intelligence agencies. Employees process more than 6 billion weather measurements each day from a worldwide network of more than 45,000 sensors, including ground stations, buoys, ships, aircraft and balloons.
A company that moved to Maryland from California without fanfare from the governor’s office was FiscalNote, an 11-employee business that recently settled in a Bethesda office after being in California to raise some money. FiscalNote — which analyzes data such as legislative bill proposals, regulations and court cases and predicts government action for numerous Fortune 500 companies — began in March and also is hiring, said Tim Hwang, CEO and co-founder.
“We want to increase our staff to 15 to 18 people,” he said.
Chris Lu, a former White House cabinet secretary and adviser to President Barack Obama, and Youngsuk “Y.S.” Chi, chairman of publishing giant Elsevier, are among the company’s board of advisors.
— Kevin James Shay
Students at the University of Maryland are apparently doing their part to help the alcohol industry and others associated with partying.
The College Park university was ranked 10th in Playboy magazine’s eighth list of the top party universities, released this week. Playboy first did such a list in 1987, though a second one did not appear until 2002.
West Virginia University was rated first this year, followed by Wisconsin, Colorado, Southern California, Florida State, Texas, Louisiana State, Georgia and Arizona State.
Playboy editors claimed to have reviewed data from the National Center for Education Statistics, NCAA and the U.S. Economic Census, as well as comments from more than 12 million social media fans. The latter is likely quite male-heavy.
West Virginia also was the top partying pick of editors of a similar list by the Princeton Review last year, but that university fell to fourth on this year’s recent list. Iowa took Princeton’s top honor this year, while Maryland ranked 17th.
Princeton bases its rankings on actual surveys of 126,000 students.
— Kevin James Shay
A federal lawsuit filed in Greenbelt last year accusing Gaithersburg biotech GenVec of misleading investors over a pancreatic cancer drug was dismissed Sept. 20 by U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow.
The class-action suit was filed by Brower Piven, a law firm with offices in New York and Stevenson. A Brower Piven representative could not be reached for comment.
The “facts simply do not support that defendants’ alleged misrepresentations or omissions are actionable” under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Chasanow wrote.
Douglas J. Swirsky, CEO of GenVec, said in a statement that he was pleased with the dismissal.
“There are no winners when an experimental therapeutic fails in clinical trials, especially for a challenging and underserved indication such as pancreatic cancer,” he said.
Leaders of GenVec are working to continue the company, rather than dissolve, as its board voted to do in May. Former CEO Cynthia Collins was replaced by Swirsky, while three board members resigned.
GenVec, which works on developing gene therapy treatments and was founded in 1992, reported a net loss of $14.1 million in 2012, almost twice as much as in 2011.
— Kevin James Shay
Senate Republicans have chosen Sens. David R. Brinkley and Joseph M. Getty to lead their caucus in 2014. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market and Getty (R-Dist. 5) of Manchester were elected minority leader and minority whip, respectively, on Monday .
Brinkley replaces former Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton, who resigned from office to move to Texas and study sports management.
Brinkley is no stranger to leading his party in the chamber. He served as Senate minority leader once before, for a two-year stretch.
The 12-member caucus has seen frequent turnover in its leadership, which Brinkley said creates a healthy dynamic.
“We like to have some fresh blood, fresh ideas,” he said.
Senate Republicans are outnumbered in the chamber, Brinkley said, but the state is better served by the honest back and forth between the parties.
“We will be choosing our battles and making sure the minority voice in the Senate is heard on issues,” he said.
— Kate S. Alexander
A group called Food & Water Watch is claiming that hydraulic fracturing has been associated, in Pennsylvania, with an increase in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.
A 16-page report links “fracking” with other social ills, including increased traffic accidents and arrests for disorderly conduct.
Energy boomtowns draw out-of-town workers with a lot of money, not much to do and no connection to the community, said Julie Gouldener, Baltimore organizer for Food & Water Watch.
Gouldener said her group and others have found plenty of environmental reasons to ban fracking.
“There was a desire to document these things that community members are expressing anecdotally,” she said.
She allowed that the small Pennsylvania towns in the study offered a small sample size which could skew the data.
“There’s no way to definitively prove the correlation means that one caused the other, but the data is aberrant enough it surely seems to show there’s some correlation there,” she said.
“The fact that these things are rising in direct proportion of the number of fracking wells, that seems to be further confirmation,” she said.
— Douglas Tallman