Minimum Wage Bill Signing by Governor Martin O’Malley

Photo Courtesy od The Executive Office of The Governor 
Vowing to strengthen Maryland’s middle class, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation Monday that will gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour — his No. 1 legislative priority for the last of his eight years in office.
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun6:07 p.m. EDT, May 5, 2014

The measure was among more than 200 bills the governor signed into law at a State House ceremony. Others included a ban on the sale of most grain alcohol, reforms to Baltimore’s liquor board and expansion of the city’s needle-exchange program to prevent AIDS.

O’Malley hailed the minimum-wage bill, which will begin raising the current $7.25 minimum wage in January, as a victory for Maryland’s working families.

“It is not fair, it is not right, it is not just” for Marylanders to have to work 16-hour days while raising their children in poverty, O’Malley said.

The governor was joined at the signing ceremony by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, representing President Barack Obama, who is advocating an increase in the federal minimum wage to the $10.10 level that Maryland will reach in 2018.

Perez, a former member of O’Malley’s Cabinet, praised his home state as an “incubator of innovation.”

“This will be good for Maryland business, good for Maryland workers and a good example for the country,” Perez said.

Winning passage of the minimum-wage bill at the level Obama supports, even with the compromises needed to get it passed, gives O’Malley something to brag about as he turns his attention to a possible run for president in 2016.

Within minutes of the bill signing, O’Malley’s federal political action committee sent out an email over his signature urging supporters to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter and “tell Congress to do the same for all Americans.”

The minimum-wage legislation passed over the opposition of most of the General Assembly’s Republicans and some of the state’s leading business organizations. Opponents contend that by raising the cost of labor, the legislation will place a burden on small businesses and cost jobs.

Perez, however, said he had recently visited Washington state, which has the highest state minimum wage in the country. He said business leaders there told him the policy had been good for business.

“When you put money in people’s pockets, people spend it,” he said.

Maryland will join 21 states that, along with the District of Columbia, have set a rate above the federal minimum wage. Only Connecticut has adopted a rate as high as $10.10, effective in 2017.

The Maryland law will phase in the increase, raising the minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $8 Jan. 1 and $8.25 on July 1, 2015. Subsequent increases will bring it to $8.75 on July 1, 2016, $9.25 on July 1, 2017, and $10.10 on the same date in 2018.

The ban on the sale of high-potency liquor applies to beverages with an alcohol content of 95 percent and higher. The measure had the support of many college educators, who have been alarmed by the effects the high-strength liquor has had on students.

“The immediate impact is that when students come back to college in August, they will no longer be able to get grain alcohol,” said Jonathan Gibralter, president of Frostburg State University.”Hopefully, there will be fewer transports to the emergency room. Hopefully, there will be less harm toward college students because this product is no longer available.”

Joshua Snider, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park who testified in support of the bill, said he’s seen how quickly grain alcohol can get people drunk. “I’ve seen people getting so drunk they fall on their heads and crack their skulls open,” he said.

The Baltimore liquor board bill will give City Hall greater oversight of the agency’s finances and sets higher ethical standards for board members and employees. The needle exchange measure will remove the restriction on the number of clean syringes needles the city can dispense to drug users. The current law limits the transactions to a one-for-one exchange. Proponents of the bill said removal of the limit would make the needle exchange program more effective in preventing the spread of AIDS and other diseases through the use of shared syringes.

O’Malley handed his allies in organized labor a victory by signing legislation extending the prevailing wage for school construction projects to all that cost more than $500,000 and receive at least 25 percent of their funding from the state. Opponents of the bill contend that the measure will raise the cost of school construction.

Not on the signing list was a bill that would delay — and possibly block — development of a wind farm in Somerset County because of a concern that tall turbines could interfere with radar across the Chesapeake Bay at the Patuxent naval air station in St. Mary’s County. The governor has not decided whether to sign or veto the legislation, spokeswoman Nina Smith said Monday. The bill is opposed by clean energy advocates but supported by powerful Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation.

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Get Free Money for your Business with SBIR/STTR Grants!

May 13 8:30 AM

Small Business Innovation Research Funds / Small Business Technology Transfer Research Funds (SBIR/STTR) are the number one technology venture funding for American inventors, start up enterprises, and early stage small businesses. Phase One grants can provide up to $150,000 and Phase Two grants can provide up to $1,000,000  depending on the awarding agency. Montgomery County’s Business Innovation Network is pleased to announce the kick off of a new SBIR center in Germantown, MD to help Maryland businesses apply for, win, and manage these types of grants.

The Maryland SBIR Resource Network’s purpose is to educate small business owners to help them receive seed funding capital from the government and to develop and commercialize their technology or scientific products. We’ll be hosting training classes throughout the year to help businesses move through the grant process as agency deadlines occur. For more information about SBIR/STTR please visit

With SBIR & STTR, inventors and small businesses can:

1.      Fund innovative, high risk, early stage projects to start or expand a business

2.      Receive funding quickly — in as little as 4 months from application

3.      Apply for funding with very little paperwork, time or effort

4.      Retain full ownership of their technology & intellectual property

5.      Retain full equity ownership

6.      Retain cash for operations

7.      Receive additional, active support for business planning, commercialization and private venture capital acquisition, funded by the government at NO COST TO OWNERS.

8.      Establish a bid-advantaged, sole-source marketing position with the world’s largest, ready-made customer base — potentially worth billions to an SBIR firm

9.      Gain credibility with the marketplace and potential investors

10.     Receive real cash revenues, usually paid in advance of the work required


This program is generously supported by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

Montgomery County DED: one of the Sponsors of our Seminars


With Montgomery County’s large and growing business community, opportunities for business networking and partnering abound.


Local business and civic organizations play a vital role in organizing business initiatives and community activities in the county. The following pages list chambers of commerce, women’s business organizations, and other groups that work closely with the Department of Economic Development to provide a variety of services and business development opportunities.


If you are looking for networking events, expos, seminars, or other scheduled events, go to our Calendar of Events for one stop business opportunities to help your company grow.


Local Economic Development Organizations


Business Membership Organizations


Business Resource Organizations


Local Small Business Reserve Program-HCCMC

The Local Small Business Reserve Program

We thank The Show in RADIO America 1540 AM, En sintona con el Concejo del Condado.

Take a look of the video. Click on the link En Sintonia con el Concejo del Condado

Picture of County Executive Isiah LeggettIn Montgomery County, we’ve responded aggressively to the current economic downturn to maintain the vitality of our local economy. In December 2008, I announced economic stimulus measures that included 11 action items to sustain and enhance the viability of the business community. Nearly 95% of Montgomery County’s companies are considered small businesses.Together, they are a strong and powerful engine that drives our economy.

The newly enacted Local Small Business Reserve Program (LSBRP) is one measure that will keep our economic engine running. Under this program, Montgomery County’s departments and agencies have made a commitment to allocate 20% of their purchases of goods and services for the small business community.

Passage of the Local Small Business Reserve Program (Bill 3-09) was the result of cooperation between my office, members of the County Council and stakeholders in the business community. It is gratifying that through collaboration we have come together to take a positive step towards ensuring our economic security.

Please take a few minutes to read the related information, and register if your business is eligible for the program.

Signature of County Executive Isiah Leggett

5 Ways Social-Media Marketers Get Their Message Heard

With 73 percent of adults who have access to the Internet using social-networking sites, it’s not surprising that 86 percent of marketers say social media is important for their business. But social media moves at lightning speed: content posted to Facebook or Twitter becomes irrelevant after a mere three hours.

The opportunity to connect with your fans and followers on social channels is small, but it can make the difference between landing or losing a customer.

Let’s look at five ways successful businesses get their messages heard without getting drowned out by the crowd.

1. They acknowledge competitors. While you don’t want to encourage customers to visit your competition, it’s perfectly fine to acknowledge they exist. Besides offering a great networking opportunity, it fosters goodwill — something customers enjoy much more than smear campaigns and negative advertising.

Related: The 5 Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Are Still Making on Twitter

Take one snack-food brand’s response to being mentioned on Twitter alongside another popular snack item.

It takes a certain amount of finesse and courage to engage a competitor over social media. The other company may completely ignore you: the digital equivalent of an unacknowledged outstretched hand. And if they do respond in kind, they may spin the conversation in their favor, so you lose control of the message.

If you plan to engage your competitors, keep it friendly, monitor their responses carefully and be ready to pivot if things get uncomfortable.

2. They’re nimble and quick to adapt. Facebook and Google certainly know how to keep social-media professionals on their toes. As soon as you find the sweet spot for getting your content noticed, algorithms change and you’re back to square one. You have to be willing to adapt your strategies as needed because agility is a key to success.

These three blogs will help you stay on top on the latest algorithm changes and developments:

3. They have a crash plan. No one expects to blunder a status update and irritate a whole swath of followers, but it happens. Have a damage-control strategy before you need it, because no one is exempt from Murphy’s Law.

Some of the most common social media disasters include:

If you’re lucky, followers will ignore bad behavior on social media channels. But don’t count on it.

Related: 5 Ways to Harness Hashtags to Drive Business Value

A strong social-media disaster plan may seem like overkill but think of it as a fire extinguisher. Hopefully you’ll never need it but, if you do, you’ll be damn glad it’s there.


4. They recycle old content. While you want to guard against repetitive updates, it’s not verboten to recycle old content that has already been loved and shared. Not everything you post is seen by every follower, every time, so cherry pick your best work and share it again. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Put a few weeks of time between reposts. You can make an exception if your content is time sensitive or relates to an upcoming event, but don’t make it a habit.
  • Consider reworking the message the second time around. For example, if you’re calling out a blog post located on your website put a different spin on it.
  • Cross-promote on different social-media channels. Have a cool infographic laying around on Pinterest? Put it on Facebook. Pull one of your YouTube videos over to Twitter. Mix and match your content to reach a new audience.
  • Release your content at a different time of day. If your first update got a lot of traction at noon on a Tuesday, toss it out again over the weekend or toward the end of the day.

5. They use visual content. There’s a reason your Facebook timeline is filled with kitten pictures and viral videos. People like to be shown rather than told, and visual content is easier to share.

In the early days of social media, visuals were intimidating to develop. Now, with easy-to-use (and often free) content creation services, it’s super simple to whip up an informative infographic, short video or clever image to share.

Check out sites like Quozio for making the inspirational images everyone seems to love so much or use PicMonkey to punch up pictures before sharing. Visually’s own Create platform helps you visualize your social-media activity with simple infographic templates, while Photobucket is your one-stop shop for video editing. And don’t forget to take a look at what creation and editing tools are already bundled right into your computer.

Food for Tought: The Economic Case For Raising the minimum Wage

take a look to the minimum wage and find out what  business owners should know about it.

“An extensive body of research suggests that giving a raise to lower-income
workers reduces turnover and raises morale, and can thus lower costs and improve

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the importance of raising the federal
minimum wage for all workers, during an event in the in the East Room of the
White House, Feb. 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)





Member of the HCCMC Testifies on Capitol Hill


Carmen Ortiz Larsen, President AQUAS Inc.

Vice President Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Montgomery County

Thank you for considering my testimony. l am Carmen Ortiz Larsen, a small

business owner for over 30 years. My company is an engineering and technology

firm that employs over 50 people on a full time basis, which includes clerical and

entry level staff, field technicians, and office assistants. In addition to being a

business owner, I am an active member of my community, l provide technical

assistance to emerging small businesses and actively support youth at risk

internship programs. When We allow business to pay poverty Wages to its staff, We

promote an environment Where children are not Well cared for, nutrition is

deficient, and decent housing alternatives are difficult to obtain. We increase the

need for Social programs.

My business found a While back that lower paid staff tended to miss Work more,

have a higher frequency of health issues, sought second jobs to make ends meet,

and quit their jobs more readily. Because of this, my business began increasing

lower end wages a Jfew years ago, so that today our lowest wage is $10.00 / hour –

for a young entry level employee. As a result, absenteeism is lower, my staff is

reliable, staff retention rates are great, and staff morale is good. My customers are

happier, they get better service, and I spend less time and money replacing and

retraining staff. In short, my company is better because of this change.

. n . d . As a busmess owner, I don’t want to pay more than I need to pay, and I Want my

margins to be high. But at the same time, the dollars l Save in one area ofthe

business could cost me more in other areas. I depend 0n the reliability and quality

of my staff. Our customers buy our product and service because we are innovative

and customer focused. My staff helps me get there.

While it is true that in an ideal world, businesses should freely choose to pay

Wages that are competitive and make sense, and people should be free to choose

the most favorable job or employer they can find, businesses can often choose to

pay what they can get away with, and give priority to the profit margin rather than

a broader agenda of ensuring the wellbeing of our citizens. Profitability depends

on many factors, only one of them is the pay for lower level staff. As elected

officials, We look to you to set boundaries that eut across many special interest

areas and ensure a balance between commerce and individual sustainability. The

current minimum wage simply does not make sense. Adjusted for intlation, the

$7.25 an hour minimum Wage is the same as it was in 1950. It hasn’t even kept up

with cost of living increases.

As a smallbusiness owner I am constantly seeking ways to lower our cost of

production and improve our Company’s brand. Paying unreasonably low Wages is

not the solution. Many lower end employees are head of households; paying folks

poverty wages does not make business sense, it erodes a worker’s dignity, and

defies social justice, and is oppressive. We need to remember that lower end Wage

earners are taxpayers and voters, and keep our businesses Working. We can

remember if you make it the law. That is why I support the federal minimum wage




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Interview with our new Executive Director

Interview (in Spanish, on February 2014 of Chamber Executive Director, Daniel Parra Entrevista con Daniel Parra, nuevo Director Ejecutivo de la Camara de Comercio Hispana del Condado de Montgomery, En el Show, QUE PASA? con Betty Valdes.

Interview (in Spanish), with Daniel Parra, new Executive Director, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, on local cable show, QUE PASA? hosted by Betty Valdes.