Delmarva Power Expands Incentives for Electric Vehicle Shoppers

Nissan and BMW are offering Delmarva Power customers special incentives that can save them thousands of dollars on the cost of certain all-electric vehicle (EV) models. In addition to the manufacturer incentives, customers could also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, as well of thousands of dollars in state rebates and tax incentives.

These offerings are part of Delmarva Power’s broader efforts to provide new and innovative services and options for customers across the company’s service area.

“We are seeing a growing interest from our customers in electric vehicles, clean technology and innovative transportation solutions,” said Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power region president. “As the electric company responsible for managing the energy grid across most of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, we play a critical role in supporting the growth of these new technologies to meet our customers’ evolving needs. These rebates and incentives are another step forward as we work with partners across the region to expand needed charging infrastructure, provide affordable energy services for electric vehicles, and position Delaware and Maryland as leaders in this rapidly growing market.”

Nissan is offering Delmarva Power customers a $3,000 rebate off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2018 LEAF. This offer is available from Nissan North America Inc., through June 30, 2018, or while supplies last. To qualify for the savings, customers must bring a copy of this flyer and show their Delmarva Power bill to participating Nissan dealerships.

BMW is offering Delmarva Power customers $10,000 off the best negotiated purchase price of a new all-electric BMW i3 or BMW i3s through July 31, 2018. To redeem the offer, customers should bring their Delmarva Power bill and a completed Delmarva Power customer information form to their local dealership.

Delmarva Power is actively working to advance EV technology across Delaware and Maryland. In Delaware, the energy company has proposed an innovative program to the Delaware Public Service Commission that will help prepare Delaware for the growth of EVs and provide customers with reduced electric rates, credits, rebates, and other incentives to buy and own EVs.

In Maryland, Delmarva Power partnered with its Exelon sister companies Baltimore Gas and Electric and Pepco, as well as other energy companies and stakeholders, to file a proposal that would create the second largest EV charging network in the U.S. If approved, it would help energy companies meet customers’ needs in the state, where, according to a recent survey released this week by the Edison Electric Institute, an overwhelming majority of residents support expanding EV charging infrastructure.

Customers can learn more about EVs, available incentives, and the company’s ongoing efforts to support the growing interest in EVs here.

Taking Stock: The Cambridge Hyatt Economic Development Project at 16 Years Old

It seems like ancient history now, but in the early months of 2002, there was a dramatic addition to the city of Cambridge when the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay officially opened. A few visionary leaders in Dorchester County, DC developers, and most importantly, the Maryland Economic Development Corporation made good on their plans to construct a 400 room, 650 acres, hotel and resort on the shores of the Choptank with the goal of providing a long-term benefit for the then economically struggling center of the Eastern Shore.

At the time, this multimillion-dollar project was seen by some at the time as a remarkable risk. Cambridge was not known as a tourist or conference destination, even though it was located near some of the most remarkable natural resources on the East Coast. It also did not have the advantages of being in a major city, near a major amusement park, or benefiting from a tropical climate. Why stop in Cambridge, the story went, when you could drive another hour and arrive at the beachfront communities in Delaware and Ocean City.

But now that the Hyatt has been in place for sixteen years, The Spy thought it would be a good idea to check in with its general manager, Joel Bunde, who has a unique perspective on this economic development project. That is because Joel arrived in 2005 to be part of the executive management team to run the property for four years, and has now recently returned from another tour of duty to become its general manager. It is that arc of experience that made the Spy interested to hear Joel’s general observations about the Hyatt, the remarkable renaissance of downtown Cambridge, and the collateral soft and hard benefits that have come with the then $155 million investment in the Eastern Shore’s future.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. Additional aerial video content by Micah Berkley.  For more information about the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay please go here.

 

QHS and Delmarva Foundation Become Qlarant – Starting Today

Quality Health Strategies Inc. announced the comprehensive rebranding and new name of its subsidiaries. The rebranding program unifies the companies of Health Integrity, Quality Health Foundation and Delmarva Foundation under one brand umbrella: QLARANT. (Pronounced Clair-Ent) The new moniker comes a new logo, style, and website (www.Qlarant.com).

“It’s quite a challenge for one word to encapsulate everything that these unified groups stand for,” said Qlarant CEO Ron Forsythe. “The name Qlarant pulls it all together. It’s a strong name that represents our core values and emphasizes the quality and clarity our company brings to our clients.”

Quality Health Strategies has provided 45 years of quality service to a variety of industries through its subsidiaries. Delmarva Foundation is well respected for being a trustworthy quality and peer review organization. Health Integrity, LLC, has earned a reputation for excellence in program integrity, auditing and investigations. Both companies hold numerous contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Quality Health Foundation has worked to improve the health status of underserved communities by providing charitable grants to organizations in Maryland and the District of Columbia. It has provided over $4.5 million in grants.

“The work we have done as Health Integrity, Delmarva Foundation, and Quality Health Foundation is remarkable,” commented Deborah Keller, Vice President of Human Resources. “By bringing our groups under one brand umbrella, we have the opportunity to really benefit our clients and unify our team in a way we’ve never seen before.”

Qlarant’s Solutions suite includes Quality Improvement; Fraud Waste and Abuse; and Data Sciences/Technology. These combined skills will benefit clients by focusing the wisdom of decades of experience under one brand.

Easton Utilities’ Ted Book on the Rising Cost of Cable Rates

It seems like every year the senior management of Easton Utilities must prepare themselves to once again explain to the Town of Easton (their boss) and their customers why there will be another increase in their monthly cable fees. And like almost everything else in the world of the cable business and new technology, that answer is not the easiest question to understand.

If Easton Utilities was driven by profit or seeking an aggressive return on investment that question would be easy to answer, but that simply is not the case for this unique municipality-owned utility company. In fact, according to Ted Book, who headed up EU’s cable and internet programs, Easton Utilities has not increased base cable rates, i.e., the cost of physically providing the service through satellite dishes, cable, and maintenance for close to twenty years.

That is just one of the interesting facts that come out of the Spy’s recent interview with Ted about the cable industry’s alarming rate increases and the impact it has on small providers like Easton Utilities and their customers.

Ted’s point of view is particularly helpful given the remarkable fact that he has witnessed the almost entire history of the company’s involvement in cable and internet services. His perspective is quite useful as he discusses cable’s current chaotic marketplace as “cord-cutters” increasingly turn to internet streaming services for television networks which profoundly impacts cable’s core business model and the direct result of broadcasters demanding more money to carry their signals.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Easton Utilities please go here 

Downtown Profiles: Easton’s Remaining Traditional Men’s Store Still Stands Tall

There was a time, not so long ago, when every town of a decent size would have a high-quality haberdashery. While cities like Washington would have such prominent stores as Thomas & Lewis Saltz, the Georgetown University Shop, or Raleigh’s, smaller towns like Easton would have solid equivalents such as Blades on Washington Avenue.

But now the vast majority of these classic traditional men’s stores have shut their doors, while national chains like JoS. A. Bank’s and Men’s Warehouse also face the risk of extermination as business wear has been replaced by casual attire in the corporate world as internet sales increase.

And yet a steady few of these specialty stores are still standing, and one of those is none other than Berrier’s on Dover Street. And if you asked its owner, Bruce Berrier, how his business was going, he’d say, “just fine.”

The Spy was intrigued by how this unique men’s specialty store, with such items as $400 cashmere sweaters and $40 fine wool stocks, could remain competitive in the face of a radically different marketplace and changing standards in men’s clothing needs.  So we spent a few minutes with Bruce to talk about the sustainability of Berrier’s as someone who has spent his entire career in the trade, first at the original Blades, then as a manufacturer representative for the distinguished men’s suit maker Corbin, and finally starting his own business in Easton twenty-five years ago.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Berrier’s please go here

Looking Back: A Conversation with Shore Bancshares Chair Chris Spurry

When Chris Spurry was appointed to be the chair of the board of the Talbot Bank in 2006, he felt both honored and excited to take on this role during a time in banking when, as he recalled it, “a blind chicken could get fat.” The economy in general, and real estate in particular, was hitting historic highs in value and returns on investment. To be part of this extraordinary moment in Delmarva prosperity could not have been more fulfilling for him.

The St. Michaels native also saw this new role on the board of this highly regarded community bank as another positive outcome of his decision to move his a manufacturers’ representatives firm to Talbot County in 1983 after over thirty years serving in senior leadership positions with a Fortune 500 manufacturing corporation and food equipment supplier based in New York City. With Spurry (now Spurry-Curren and Associates) operating out of Easton, Chris was able to return home to the Mid-Shore he loved and directly particulate in its economic future.

But when troubling financial smoke signals were popping up in 2007, which later unfolded the following year into the country’s most significant economic collapse since the Great Depression, Scott and his fellow board members realized quickly that within this short period, the entire future of the Talbot Bank, Centreville National Bank, Avon-Dixon Insurance, and Wye Financial & Trust were now being severely threatened.

And as a result of this perfect storm, the Talbot Bank directors oversaw one of the most dramatic and sweeping corporate reconfigurations in the commercial history of the Eastern Shore.

In short order, the board was strengthened, a new senior management team was hired, banking operations were consolidated, as well as dozens of other operational changes required to cope with this new economic environment as well as an unprecedented wave of fiduciary regulations.

Now, after nine years of hard work and significant cultural change, Shore Bancshares is safely out of the woods and thriving.

The Spy caught with Chris at the Shore Bancshares corporate headquarters last month to talk about this extraordinary time in banking history as he steps down from being one of Shore Bancshares’ longest-serving board Chairs.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Shore Bancshares please go here

 

Maryland 3.0: As Medical Cannabis Nears, Bill could boost Minorities’ Stake

After a four-year wait to provide medical cannabis to patients, the drug could be available to Marylanders as early as this month, according to industry stakeholders.

“I think we could see product in November, with increase in December and a steady flow from all operators in the new year,” said Wendy Bronfein, the marketing director for Curio Wellness, a company in Lutherville, Maryland, awarded two licenses to cultivate and process medical marijuana.

However, racial diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry is wanting, and some lawmakers said they are planning to introduce a bill early next session to grant licenses to African-American business owners.

A disparity study ordered by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in April and due in December focuses on whether minorities who sought a license in the cannabis industry were at a disadvantage.

The study was prompted after the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus raised concerns about the lack of African-American involvement in the industry.

Of the 321 business owners granted preliminary licenses to grow, distribute or process the drug, 208 were white men or women and the remaining 113 identified as a member of a minority group or as multiracial. Of these, 55 — about 17 percent — were black men and women, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

“It’s shameful in a state like Maryland where we have one-third of the population of the state, one-third is African American,” said Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

As the General Assembly’s January session approaches, members of the Black Caucus told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service they have begun drafting a bill that would award 10 new licenses for growers and processors specifically targeted at African-Americans interested in the industry.

They will move forward with their legislation regardless of the outcome of a Hogan’s disparity study, Glenn said.

“I will bank on it that we’ll come away from the table with five new licenses for growers and five new licenses for processors that will be awarded based on the results of the disparity study. What does that mean? That means these licenses will go to, in large part, African Americans,” said Glenn.

A weighted scoring system will give businesses an advantage of being awarded a particular license if they have a certain percentage of African-American ownership, Glenn said.

A “compassionate use fund” will be part of the legislation in order to make medical marijuana affordable for patients in Maryland. The fund will be financed based on the fees that licensees in the industry must pay, Glenn said.

“Marijuana is still an illegal drug, according to the federal government. Your insurance will not pay for marijuana even though it is medical marijuana. So what does that mean? That means it becomes a rich man’s struggle. We’re not gonna have that,” said Glenn, whose mother died of cancer and is the commission’s namesake.

Marylanders who are insured through the state’s Medicare and Medicaid programs will not be covered for medical cannabis, said Brittany Fowler, spokeswoman for the Maryland health department.

The legislation has been numbered Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2, and should gain initial approval as an emergency bill during a joint hearing by the House and the Senate during the first weeks of the session — which is scheduled to start Jan. 10 — Glenn said.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said they intend to use the upcoming election as leverage for the bill.

“Next year is election year … so timing is everything … I am very, very sure that this is going to be taken care of,” Glenn said.

Cannabis companies have said that the drug is likely to be available to patients this month.

ForwardGro Inc., the first licensed medical marijuana grower, successfully passed the state’s cannabis assessment this year, said Darrell Carrington, the medical cannabis director of Greenwill Consulting Group LLC.

Patients will be able to get cannabis in a variety of forms such as lotion, pills and transdermal patches, said Michael Klein, the chief operating officer of Wellness Solutions in Frederick, Maryland.

The industry has been projected to open toward the end of the year, according to Brian Lopez, the chairman of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

“The industry is starting to move forward,” Lopez said late last month. “We hope we are going to have another 20 to 30 dispensaries by the end of the year and at that point we will have an industry that is starting to receive product consistently around the state. But with that we are going to also, I’m sure, see some growing pains.”

Maryland still faces a wide range of challenges as the industry starts up. The commission has not decided how to regulate how dispensaries will serve out-of-state patients, deal with the green waste from the cannabis, or address fraudulent activity within the industry, said Lopez.

“I’m sure we are going to hit road blocks, but we plan to work through them in a very consistent manner and with diligence,” Lopez said.

Maryland is considered to have one of the slowest medical cannabis rollouts in the nation, hampered by several delays that arose during the four-year process since it was legalized.

Stakeholders in the industry have pointed to the lack of funding of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in its beginning stages, and to lawsuits filed against the commission, as major stumbling blocks.

In 2016, GTI — Green Thumb Industries — a Bethesda, Maryland-based company that was originally awarded pre-approved licenses as a grower, filed a lawsuit against the commission for retracting its licenses in order to create geographical diversity.

The commission, which as of mid-2017 had 10 new members, made the decision to retract the license from GTI after the Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh stated in 2016 that the commission must ensure geographical diversity when choosing applicants.

GTI attempted to work with the Black Caucus to reverse the decision during the 2017 General Assembly session through legislation, which would have awarded them a license, said Delegate Pamela Queen D-Montgomery, financial secretary for the Black Caucus.

The legislation failed in the last 90 minutes of the session and there were no additional medical marijuana growing licenses given to any companies owned by minorities, Queen said.

The Legislative Black Caucus earlier this year asked Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert, and Speaker of the House Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, to reconvene the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry. However, the request was denied.

In another lawsuit against the commission, filed in October 2016 by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a predominately African-American owned business, Judge Barry Williams ruled in May that if he finds that the commission unlawfully disregarded racial diversity during the application process for licenses he reserves the right to revoke the licenses of those who were pre-approved.

This could ultimately shut down the industry, according to John Pica, a lobbyist and attorney representing Alternative Medicine Maryland.

Frosh also had said it would be unlawful to seek racial diversity in the application process without there being a history of racial disparities in the nascent cannabis industry.

“While it is still too soon to say for certain when we can expect a final analysis, we are encouraged and grateful to collaborate with these offices as we pursue this important work,” said Medical Cannabis Commission Executive Director Patrick Jameson, who announced his resignation from the commission on Thursday.

Queen said she thinks that a major issue that negatively affected the industry was the poor funding the commission initially received from the state.

When the panel was created as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission in 2013, its purpose was to oversee academic medical intuitions in distributing medical marijuana. However, the institutions were unwilling to distribute the drug because it is illegal under federal law.

In 2015, when the commission was recreated as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, they were given a greater responsibility to evaluate and certify businesses to grow, process and distribute the drug.

The commission received $140,795 in fiscal year 2015 and $2,540,331 in fiscal year 2017. The increase of funding over time was used to hire more employees, contractual labor, office spaces that can support the growing staff, travel expenses and to pay Towson University for scoring license applications for the industry, according to Maryland Department of Budget and Management.

By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo

 

Labor Day Cheat Sheet: The History behind the Holiday

One of our Spies was able to locate this recent online interview with Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department of Labor’s historian, provided us with some answers about the history of Labor Day.

Q: What’s the history of Labor Day? How did it all begin?

A: The Labor Day holiday is interesting because it evolved over a period of years. In 19th century America, there was already a tradition of having parades, picnics and various other celebrations in support of labor issues, such as shorter hours or to rally strikers. But most historians emphasize one specific event in the development of today’s modern Labor Day. That pivotal event was the parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

At that time, the labor movement was growing stronger. Many of the unions in New York prospered by joining together into one Central Labor Union made up of members from many local unions. On May 14, 1882, a proposal was made at the Central Labor Union meeting that all workers should join together for a “monster labor festival” in early September. A committee of five people was appointed to find a park for the celebration. They chose Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue, the largest park in New York City at that time; the date was set for Tuesday, September 5. By June, they had sold 20,000 tickets with the proceeds going to each local union selling them. In August, the Central Labor Union passed a resolution “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.”

At first they were afraid that the celebration was going to be a failure. Many of the workers in the parade had to lose a day’s pay in order to participate. When the parade began only a handful of workers were in it, while hundreds of people stood on the sidewalk jeering at them. But then slowly they came – 200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union showed up and joined the parade. Then came a group of bricklayers with another band. By the time they reached the park, it was estimated that there were 10,000 marchers in the parade in support of workers.

The park was decorated with flags of many nations. Everyone picnicked, drank beer and listened to speeches from the union leadership. In the evening, even more people came to the park to watch fireworks and dance. The newspapers of the day declared it a huge success and “a day of the people.”

After that major event in New York City, other localities began to pick up the idea for a fall festival of parades and picnics celebrating workers.

Q: Can you clear up some confusion: who is the father of Labor Day?

A: When studying the history of Labor Day, two names stand out, and the funny thing is that they sound just alike. One is Peter J. McGuire, a leading official in the American Federation of Labor and organizer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The other is Matthew Maguire, a machinist from the Knights of Labor. The problem with declaring a single “founder” of Labor Day is that, at the time, no one realized that a new national holiday was being born. It was only after the fact that people tried to pinpoint a single founding father.

Seven years after that first New York Labor Day parade, the union journal for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters published an article claiming that their union brother, McGuire, made the original proposal to have the Labor Day event in New York and called for one day a year to be set aside as Labor Day. This article was reprinted yearly, and it became the common assumption that these were the facts.

However, in 1967, a retired machinist from Maguire’s union stepped up and claimed that his union brother was, in fact, the true originator of the movement for a national Labor Day. He pointed to an old newspaper article written nine years after the New York Labor Day parade titled “Labor Day: Its History and Development in the Land.” This article claimed that the first Secretary of the Central Labor Union, Maguire, was the one who arranged the parade. This claim was supported six years later when the grand marshal of the New York parade of 1882 himself reminisced about how Maguire from the Knights of Labor had first suggested that the Central Labor Union call upon the unions of New York City to join together in a labor parade.

So the historical conundrum seems to hinge on the fact that the two names sound alike and were probably mixed up in the common consciousness. Toss in the years of bitter rivalry between the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor and, of course, you’re going to have multiple heroes emerging in the legend of Labor Day.

I don’t really know if there is only one true parent of Labor Day. But when former Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz spoke at the convention of the International Association of Machinists in 1968, he said: “My decision…is that there is no question as to who is the father of Labor Day in this country. Officially, as of this moment, insofar as the Department of Labor is concerned, it is Matt Maguire, machinist!” So in the question of McGuire versus Maguire, I don’t really know. But my money backs Bill Wirtz every time!

Q: When did it become a national holiday and why?

A: Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration of Labor Day began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support for a national holiday celebrating the nation’s workers, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

Mid-Shore Arts: The Art of Repainting History with Laura Era

Precisely 202 years ago today, Anna Ella Carroll, was born on the Eastern Shore. This event is of particular note to history scholars and even some hometown fans in Dorchester County since it reminds them once again how Anna’s life and extraordinary contributions in winning the Civil War for the Union continue has been lost in the history of the country’s greatest conflict.

As Time Magazine noted last year,  Abraham Lincoln “was so enthusiastic about her writing that he secured government funding for a 50,000-run printing of one of her most influential pamphlets and invited her to the White House for a confidential interview. He was impressed and enlisted her as an unofficial adviser.”

And while there is some historical debate on how much she contributed to the success of individual battles, including the famous Tennessee River Campaign, the evidence was clear enough to some Dorchester County natives to enlist Eastern Shore painter Laura Era to repaint Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s iconic “Lincoln Cabinet” to allow Anna Ella to take her proper seat at the table.

The Spy talked to Laura this week about the project and her hopes to find the appropriate home for this dramatic, and some would say a far more accurate, profile of Lincoln and his advisors.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Laura Era’s work please go here

Maryland 3.0: TEDCO’s Startup Help on the Shore with Bill Bernard

For almost twenty years, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, otherwise known as TEDCO, has been the state’s s lead source for business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies.

And during their nineteen years of existence, TEDCO’s track record has been impressive. Hundreds of entrepreneurs have been helped in taking their products to market through mentoring, funding and networking.  That has led to over $110 million in investment dollars and over 350 and research programs funded since 1998.

But what does that mean for the Eastern Shore?

We asked that question to Bill Bernard, TEDCO’s new representative for the Eastern Shore, to get a better idea of how TEDCO works. Bill’s response was to give the example of a very young entrepreneur with a great business idea but who needed help getting that product to market.

Bill also cites his work with hotDesks, a program started by the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, to provide the tools (like 3D printers) and business consultation support through its Revolution Labs program.

It doesn’t hurt that Bill comes to this new position after a long history of entrepreneurship after a tour of duty in the Peace Corps and a career in marine biology with the Smithsonian Institution. His businesses have included an aquaculture company that operated in the Dominican Republic, and more recently, founding 3Di’s Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Division.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about TEDCO please go here