Maryland 3.0: Sprouts Starts to Take Over the Eastern Shore

Just so you know….perhaps one of the most significant “foodie” experiments in the country is taking place on the Mid-Shore.

A young couple, primarily trained in nutritional science and fitness, decide to escape the rat race of the Western Shore and relocate to Trappe to start a food delivery business dedicated to high quality prepared meals with locally sourced produce and meat.

The concept was simple. Rather than send clients the raw materials to make a nutritious meal (think Blue Apron), Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll would take it to the next level and actually cook the meals for its customers.

Sprout would do all the work. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack, Ryan and Emily identify local farmers within a 200-mile range that produce some of the most exquisite examples of fruit, vegetables, chicken, pork, or beef in the region to produce meals that could be left at your doorstep twice a week.

Fast-forward one year later Sprouts has become an increasingly important provider on the entire Eastern Shore as well is in Annapolis. With Ryan’s mother in Chestertown, the couple continues to seek a local partner to help as a delivery station, which they call a “Sproutlet,” but they hope to cover the entire Mid-Shore within the next two years.

The Spy spent some quality time with Ryan in his portable kitchen in Trappe to discuss the couple’s courage and conviction it took to start a business of this kind and their aspirations over the next few years.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Sprouts please go here

Commerce: Annapolis Looks at Taxing Online Sellers

Maryland retailers are again pushing for the state to collect sales taxes from online merchants not based in Maryland, helping them and potentially raising hundreds of millions for the state.

Brick and mortar stores are struggling to compete with online sellers in other states, retail business interests testified in Annapolis on Wednesday in support of the Main Street Fairness Act of 2017.

“When there exists a significant savings from online purchasing, the attraction of the cost savings often outweigh the shopping experience,” Barbara Nicklas, senior general manager for the Mall in Columbia told the House Ways and Means Committee.

She said collecting the online sales tax would close the “cost disparity” between online sellers and brick and mortar stores.

Steve Sachs, vice president of real estate with Willis Towers Watson-North America, said Maryland retailers should not be forced to compete at a “tax disadvantage” with online sellers. “You’re supposed to be paying state tax on sales.”

He said the absence of legislation to fix the problem has created a penalty to Maryland retailers.

“Common sense tells me that we should be protecting our own businesses in Maryland who employ our workers [and provide tax revenue] to the state of Maryland and our local jurisdictions.”

In written testimony, he said the retail industry in Maryland employs 238,000 workers and paid $4 billion in sales taxes in 2015.

Physical presence required

Under current law only online sellers with a physical presence in Maryland are required to collect the 6% sales tax.

In 2014, Amazon opened a warehouse in Baltimore and started collecting the 6% sales taxes on purchases from Maryland residents. The Comptroller’s Office estimated that sales tax receipts from Amazon would reach $169 million by 2017.

The bill, HB1213, would require online (remote) sellers without a physical presence in Maryland to collect the state’s 6% sales tax from Maryland consumers who make purchases online, but only when a remotes seller’s quarterly transactions are more than 200 or exceed $10,000 in sales.

A study by the Comptroller’s Office in 2011 indicated that $287 million in sales taxes from online sales would go uncollected by 2017. The Department of Legislative Services later updated the estimated loss to closer to $320 million.

P.J. Hogan testifying for NetChoice, a national trade association that promotes e-commerce, said Maryland might have difficulty collecting the tax from remote sellers based on lawsuits in other states where online retailers have relied on a 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling to avoid collecting retail sales taxes.

Supreme Court decision

A 1992 Supreme Court decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota affirmed that out-of-state retailers were only required to collect a sales tax from consumers in states where they had a physical presence, like a distribution center or sales office, according to the legislative analysis.

Hogan said a similar law to the proposed bill passed in South Dakota a year ago and was recently struck down on Monday in the South Dakota Supreme Court as unconstitutional based on the Quill decision.

He said the Maryland Attorney General has opined that the law would wind up in litigation unless the Quill decision is overturned or Congress passes legislation allowing for the collection of a sales tax without the requirement of a physical presence in the state where a sale originates.

by Dan Menefee

Trump China Trade Policies could Hurt Maryland, Analysts say

If new Trump administration policies trigger a trade war with China, the port of Baltimore and Maryland could see revenue and job losses, according to analysts.

“Obviously China is a key trading partner. We do a lot of business with China and a lot of other Asian countries,” Richard Scher, director of communications for the Maryland Port Administration (MPA), told Capital News Service.

China ranked as the fifth-highest trading partner in exports and third in imports in 2015, according to the Port of Baltimore’s most recent foreign commerce statistical report. The port oversaw approximately $4 billion worth of materials that were exchanged between the U.S. and China that year.

The economic relationship between the U.S. and China has been trying at times, and yet the two nations remain each other’s largest trading partners.

However, the U.S.’s trade deficit with China reached $367 billion in 2015, according to a report last month from Robert E. Scott, senior economist and director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.

“Put another way, since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the U.S. trade deficit with China has increased annually by $20.3 billion, or 11.2 percent, on average,” Scott wrote.

The deficit and President Donald Trump’s unfavorable stances towards China’s trading practices have caused many to speculate about the possibility of a trade war developing between the world’s two largest economies.

“We’ll see how things progress, but we’ve certainly made a lot of investment over the years to have business come over from the Far East,” Scher said.

However, imports into the Port of Baltimore benefit many states in the mid-Atlantic region.

“Certainly a lot of business is done out of the port,” said Benjamin Orr, executive director of the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, located in Baltimore. “But if there is a trade conflict with China, it’s not necessarily that the impact would land on Maryland’s economy specifically. Lots of goods that come into the port end up out of state.”

Orr said that the biggest impact of a potential trade dispute with China would likely be a loss of jobs at the port or in local industries that rely on China for business, such as container shipping companies.

According to Scott’s report, the trade deficit with China caused Maryland to lose 46,000 jobs between 2001 and 2015, approximately 1.6 percent of the state’s total workforce.

Over the 14-year period, Maryland ranked 37th among states in percentage of workforce displaced by the trade deficit with China. Most mid-Atlantic states were not significantly affected.

“The eastern region isn’t particularly susceptible to a trade war with China,” Orr said. “Some effects would be, specifically, prices on Chinese-made goods go up, which could affect Maryland shopping habits and sales tax, and the stock market could fall.”

The White House released its annual trade agenda Wednesday, which indicated that U.S. trade policy under the Trump administration could break from the standards set forth by the WTO.

According to the Washington Post, the agenda suggests the U.S. could impose unilateral tariffs against countries it feels are employing unfair trade practices, such as China.

Trump has accused China of currency and trade manipulation before and has identified the U.S.’s trade deficit with China as something his administration would like to address in future trade discussions, saying he wants to pursue “better deals” with China.

Any conflict would undoubtedly be affected by the two nations jockeying for economic position in the Asia-Pacific region, says Sara Itagaki, project associate in the trade, economic, and energy affairs group with the National Bureau of Asian Research.

In order to establish a strong U.S. economic presence in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as check China’s rising economic power, the Obama administration helped draft the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country economic agreement completed in October 2015.

Trump called the deal “catastrophic” for the American economy during his campaign and effectively withdrew the U.S. from the deal on Jan. 23.

“The TPP was the Obama administration’s prime Asian agreement,” Itagaki said in an interview with Capital News Service. “The withdrawal raises questions about (the U.S.’s) commitment in the southeast Asian region and could hurt U.S. businesses.”

Itagaki said the TPP was “contentious politically” and that there were questions about the agreement from many other politicians.

Despite Trump’s TPP withdrawal, U.S. companies are not retreating from the Pacific, according to Itagaki.

“The U.S. needed a greater presence in the region and missed its chance to anchor its economic influence in southeast Asia,” Itagaki said. “But the U.S. is still a large market for these Southeast Asian countries. They can’t ignore the U.S. economy.”

Of course, those countries cannot ignore the local and increasingly powerful economy of China, either.

China has been promoting its own multinational trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which aims to include several countries that would have been a part of the TPP, in hopes of capitalizing on the U.S.’s withdrawal and increasing its own economic presence in the area.

While competitiveness is recognized as a central part of international trade, it remains to be seen how it will affect the way the U.S. and China do business with each other.

However, the economic risk factors are great enough that the chances of a U.S.-China trade war aren’t high, according to Itagaki.

“U.S. consumers gain a lot from trade with China,” Itagaki said. “The government still has issues with China’s economic practices … but there is great benefit in trade with China for the U.S. economy.”

The unpredictability of the Trump administration, along with its proposal to break from traditional WTO trading practices, makes it difficult to foresee how the State Department will approach trade negotiations with China, but Itagaki suggests both sides should hope for a cordial agreement.

“Both governments recognize the value of their trade relationship,” Itagaki said. “Neither economy should want a conflict because both will be hurt in the end.”

By NATE HAROLD

Maryland 3.0: A Look Back at Entrepreneurship in Chestertown 30 Years Ago

While it seems to be common these days to celebrate Eastern Shore entrepreneurship, as it should be, it is sometimes hard to remember that this entrepreneurial spirit has been in Chestertown for some time. While it can be seen currently with new retail stores, manufacturing, or even courageously starting a local brewery, it is important to remember these younger people do walk in the footsteps of some very special folks who came before them.

And one story like that from the past is the remarkable founding of the Chesapeake Bank and Trust thirty years ago.

The young man at the time was a Washington College graduate named Michael Macielag who had been mentored by Roger Simpkins, the highly respected president of the Chestertown Bank for seven years but then found himself unemployed in the spring of 1986 when that Bank was to be sold off in a merger.

Facing very few prospects which would allow him to continue to live on the Shore, Mike assumed he would need to move to the Western Shore for job opportunities, but then stumbled on the news that Maryland National Bank would be selling off its Chestertown branch. Suddenly, the opportunity of a lifetime miraculously presented itself to start a new bank, and Mike made his move.

In less than a few months time, Macielag was able to attract close to 20 investors willing to put up $100,000 each or more to found the Chesapeake Bank and Trust. And the motive was a simple one from the start; they all wanted a bank to be focused on local interests and local needs without the influence and the interference of a large and distant parent corporation.

That was 30 years ago. Since then Chesapeake Bank and Trust has been faithful to the original investors mission statement and continues to be a critical resource for starting new businesses, helping with higher education loans, or allowing young couples to purchase their first home.

The Spy spent a few moments last week talking to Michael about the founding of the bank, its original mission, and how he sees the Chesapeake Bank and Trust playing a critical role in a 21st century Kent County.

The Tidewater’s John Wilson on the Business of Hospitality in Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties

There is no getting around the fact that John Wilson, along with his Coastal South investment partners, has become one of the Mid-Shore’s unsung commercial development heroes over the last ten years. Starting with the Chesapeake Bay Club on Kent Island, followed by the remarkable turnaround of the Tidewater Inn in downtown Easton over the last seven years, and the more recently, the addition of fifty-four luxury rooms at The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Club earlier this year, Wilson has not only been given credit for bringing all these properties to new heights of sophistication and elegance to the region but has provided a significant economic engine for the communities they reside in as well.

In his Spy interview, John talks about the changes at Tidewater Inn, the significant footprint he has created on the shores of Kent Island, and some miscellaneous thoughts on what it would take for Chestertown to join the club of Mid-Shore communities who offer high-end accommodations and fine dining.

This video is approximately fifteen minutes in length. For more information on the Tidewater, please go here, and here for the Chesapeake Bay Club and Inn.

Chuck Mangold, Jr. is Habitat Choptank’s Business Partner of the Year

business-partner-chuck-mangold-nancy

Realtor Chuck Mangold, Jr. (left) with Executive Director Nancy Andrew.

Habitat Choptank has named local Realtor Chuck Mangold, Jr. as its Business Partner of the Year for 2016. An associate broker with Benson and Mangold Real Estate, Mangold has lent his time and service to help further the Habitat mission in Dorchester and Talbot Counties over the last 10 years.

“This award recognizes those businesses that are long-term partners and have provided significant support to our affordable home ownership program,” explained executive director Nancy Andrew at Habitat’s recent annual meeting.  “Chuck is just one of those people who are always willing to lend a hand plus his skills and contacts are especially meaningful for our mission.”  Mangold served two terms on the Habitat Choptank Board. “While he retired off the Board in 2013, his support and generosity toward the affiliate have not waivered.” He routinely offers his services to help Habitat acquire property for redevelopment, he has introduced the affiliate to possible home buyers and future Board members, he helped secure leases for the ReStore, and most recently, he joined Habitat’s Corporate Advisory group.

“Habitat Choptank is one organization in our community that truly helps people change their lives for the better,” Mangold said in explaining what motivates him to stay involved. “The quality houses they build are important and so is the support and education that the staff and volunteers provide to the home buyers.”

For information about buying a home through Habitat Choptank, to volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.  Chuck Mangold, Jr. can be reached by calling 410-822-6665 or going online to www.chuckmangold.com.

Maryland Winners (included Dorchester County) in Medical Marijuana Permits

Maryland regulators announced which 15 companies can grow medical marijuana in Maryland. The commission also announced 15 companies received preliminary licenses to process marijuana.  The Washington Post show the people behind the companies that won and lost in bids for licenses.

Read the full story here

Nominations Open for MCE’s 2016 Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award

DSC_0163SALISBURY –Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc. (MCE) is now seeking nominations for their Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award which will be presented in November at the fifth annual Award Banquet.

Eligible entrepreneurs will come from five counties on the Eastern Shore, and anyone can nominate a business owner. The one page nomination form is easy to fill out and the winner will earn a $2,000 cash prize, and an engraved glass award. The deadline for nominations is September 23rd.  The form can be filled out online at MCE’s website http://www.marylandcapital.org by clicking on the “Get Involved” tab next to the Entrepreneur of the Year logo.

The goal of the award has been to raise awareness about entrepreneurship and recognize the risk takers.  Previous winners have included Peter Roskovich, owner of Adam’s Ribs restaurants and Black Diamond Catering in Fruitland, Ryan Miller, owner of The Deli, Last Call Liquors, and other successful businesses in Wicomico County, Dr. Kerry Palakanis, owner of the Crisfield Clinic, and Christopher Eccleston, owner of Delmarva Veteran Builders in Salisbury.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be a small business owner or majority partner involved in day-to-day operations of the business
  • Business must be located in Wicomico, Worcester,  Somerset, Dorchester or Talbot counties
  • The company must employ 100 or fewer employees
  • The business must have been established locally for at least two (2) years
  • Must be a for-profit business
  • Business must be in the good standing with the state of Maryland

The top three nominees will be announced in October and the winner will be named at MCE’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award Banquet on Thursday, November 3, 2016, at Salisbury University.

“We all know at least one entrepreneur who works tirelessly day and night to make their business a success. We encourage you to nominate them. To recognize their sacrifices and hold them up as an example of how hard work pays off in the end. Entrepreneurship is about making something happen even if the odds are against you. It’s about the human spirit. And we want to honor that,” said MCE’s Executive Director George Koste. “We hope this will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to take that next step and start their own business, and we want them to know we are here to help.”

MCE created the Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2012. The award is named after Palmer Gillis, a Salisbury native, who has spent the last 36 years building his construction company into one of the largest general contracting firms on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Along the way, he continues to give back through public service as a board member for numerous charitable causes and foundations. He has been a leading voice in trying to make his community a better place.

MCE (Maryland Capital Enterprises), a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization located on the second floor of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Building in Salisbury, has been working to promote entrepreneurship since its inception over a decade ago.  Through business counseling, small business loans, classes for business owners and other resources, MCE can help nurture those winning ideas and help turn them into profit.

To nominate an entrepreneur or to learn more about the award, visit www.marylandcapital.org.

Making It Work on the Shore: Three Competing Restaurateurs Unite for St Michaels Brew Fest

The third annual St. Michaels Brew Fest gears up for Saturday, June 4th offering unique beers and a first-of- its- kind VIP ticket. The festival brings together over 70 American Craft Brews, including one-offs, firkins, and rarities, collaborations and casks from local, regional & national breweries.

Behind that bit of good news is the remarkable story of how three restaurant competitors, namely Terye Reese Knopp of Foxy’s Harbor Grille, Jon Mason of the Town Dock, and Tracey Jones-Wass of The Crab Claw, working with Ace Moritz of Eastern Shore Brewing, decided to join forces to create this unique, one of a kind, special event.

In their Spy interview before the big day, the three gathered at Town Dock yesterday to talk about the unlikely alliance and their hopes and expectations for a tradition that may be a permanent calendar event in the growing list of St. Michaels big annual events.

The Annual St. Michaels Brew Fest is always the weekend after Memorial Day. The festival hours are from 12pm to 5pm. General admission tickets are $45 plus tax and service fee. To buy tickets click www.missiontix.com or visit www.stmichaelsbrewfest.com or www.stmichaelsmd.com

And the Winners Are… Talbot County Business Appreciation Awards Handed Out

The 8th Annual Talbot County Business Appreciation Breakfast was held on Friday, April 22 at the Elks Lodge in Easton with approximately 225 representatives from the business community.

The Business Appreciation Breakfast celebrated people working in Talbot County, with “Our People Make It Work,” as a tribute to the talent and hard work of individuals that make Talbot County a special community.

The Talbot County Economic Development Commission hosted the event with the Talbot County Office of Economic Development to recognize projects completed in the preceding year, which represent extraordinary contributions to the economic base of the county.

The program included an official welcome by the Economic Development Commission Chair, Timothy G. Jones and an update on the status of county activity by Talbot County Council President, Corey W. Pack.

The keynote address for the breakfast was provided by Congressman Andrew P. Harris, M.D., who has served as the first Congressional District’s representative since 2011. Congressman Harris provided comments and updates on national legislation and trends impacting the economy.

Awards were presented to 11 individuals and businesses for excellence in Innovation, Expansion, Investment, Tourism and Agriculture. Award winners included:

Talbot County Innovator Award recognized Richard Bernstein, President, CEO, REMCO, for his creation of REMCO Properties and investment in Waterside Village, a mixed use project that includes professional office space, retail, dining, and large retailers in its 4 phases of development.

Talbot County Award for Investment recognized Evans Analytical Group (EAG), the world's leading, fully integrated, independent laboratory network, headquartered in Santa Clara, California who completed a $6 Million expansion to the Wildlife International facility in Easton in 2015.

Talbot County Award for Expansion was received by Konsyl Pharmaceuticals, Inc., privately held by ICC Industries and located at the Clifton Industrial Park, who completed a major expansion under the leadership of Frank Gunsallus.

Talbot County Award for Innovation was presented to the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) for the pledged $6 million for adaptive reuse of the McCord Building, an Easton landmark located at 114 South Washington Street and constructed in 1925. Now known as The Eastern Shore Conservation Commission Hosts 8 h Annual Business Appreciation Breakfast April 22 Center, the facility serves as the ESLC Headquarters, and includes tenants Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Town Creek Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and others.

Talbot County Award for Agriculture Investment recognized Nagel Farm Service, Inc, who completed the first phase of a multi-year, multimillion dollar expansion and added 800,000 bushels of storage capacity to their Wye Mills facility. Talbot County Tourism Investment Award recognized the Pascal Family Group who purchased Michener’s, a destination for visitors and hunters in Trappe, and the iconic Mason’s restaurant in Easton and reopened them under the Pascal brand as the Talbot Smokehouse and Pascal’s Chop House, respectively, with a new menu created by Executive Chef David Hayes.

Town of Easton recognized Rise Up Coffee Roasters, an Eastern Shore original founded in 2005 by Owner/Operator Timothy Cureton who has developed a thriving online and wholesale division and now employs 50 local people.

Town of Oxford recognized Campbell’s Boatyards, owned and operated by Tom and Susan Campbell since 1991 and now overseeing three marina complexes (Bachelors Point, Jack’s Point, and Town Creek) for the importance of the maritime trades and the number of visitors who come to the historic sailing town of Oxford by boat as an economic base vital to their town.

Town of St. Michaels recognized Brad Fout of Calico Gallery and Ilene Morgan from The Shops at Sea Captain’s Cottage for their creation and success of Midnight Madness in St. Michaels which kicks off the Christmas season with a hallmark celebration. Midnight Madness is a reminder of how important the small business sector is to our economy and why it is so important to “Shop Local” all year round to help support locally owned small businesses and the people they hire.

Town of Trappe recognized Jim Dawson, owner of The Unicorn Bookshop, located on Route 50 and featuring approximately 30,000 volumes specializing in Maryland and Eastern Shore history, maps, and the writings of Gilbert Byron.

The Annual Business Appreciation Breakfast provided each award recipient with an engraved pewter tray, handcrafted in Easton by Salisbury Pewter. The awards were made possible by sponsors including: 1880 Bank; Easton Airport; The Henker Group; M&T Bank; and The Star Democrat.

The Breakfast sponsors included: Atlantic Financial Group, LLC.; Avon Dixon Insurance and The Talbot Bank; Chesapeake Utilities; Easton Utilities; Pixel Print & Post; Provident State Bank; Quality Health Strategies; University of Maryland Shore Regional Health; Wells Fargo Advisors; Willow Construction. The Talbot County Economic Report, "Talbot County, Maryland, Our People Make It Work." may be viewed and downloaded on the County’s website at www.talbotcountymd.gov.