Big Mixx’s Relocation and Grand Opening

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Owner of Big Mixx’s, Jamie Barrett at his news location at 100 Philosopher’s Terrace

Big Mixx’s, a popular black owned barbershop that serves a diverse clientele in Chestertown, has moved from Kent Plaza Shopping Center to 100 Philosopher’s Terrace in the old Allstate Insurance office — next to Ellen’s Coffee Shop.

The Grand Opening is Tuesday, April 15 at 10 a.m.

“I got the new building on April 1st and we open up on the 15th,” said Big Mixx’s owner, Jamie Barrett.  “I had a lot of help from family, friends and a lot of volunteers. I hope this will be a lot better location for me to get more business.”

Barrett and his army of volunteers broke land-speed records transforming the drab insurance office into a vibrant showcase hair salon with four chairs, a separate styling room, ample retail space and a pleasant sitting area, which has also served as a popular meeting place in all of the Big Mixx’s locations over the last 20 years.

bmx4Big Mixx’s offers a substantial inventory of hair products and Barrett says he plans to hire more people. He currently has two employees.

Barrett said he was forced to move in a hurry after Kent Shopping Center’s owner, The Cordish Companies, went back on a promise to relocate him in the former Black Eyed Susan’s storefront, just a few doors down from the Rite Aide, until they could permanently provide a space for him next to Roses.bmx7

The ACME is expanding into Big Mixx’s now empty space and also Parts Plus, which was relocated to the old Dollar Tree location next to Procolino Pizza.

Barrett said that a representative from Cordish insisted he had asked for a smaller space, but Barrett said he made it very clear to the Cordish represenatative early on that he was perfectly happy to take the former Black Eyed Susan’s location temporarily. Barrett was given until April 15 to vacate the shopping center.

Barrett said he will be more than ready when the doors open on Tuesday and plans on having a small celebration at a later date to thank the people who helped him relocate.bmx3

Survey of Chestertown Businesses Says Jettison the Parking Meters

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Ward 2 Councilwoman Linda Kuiper said at Monday’s council meeting that a vast majority of downtown businesses don’t want parking meters, based on a survey she took of local merchants.

Only three businesses, which were located on High Street, between Cross and Water Streets, wanted to keep meters.

Mayor Chris Cerino said it was good to have the survey in advance of the C-2 Commercial Business District Forum on April 14 at 7:00 p.m.
parking

Downtown Chestertown Association Elects New Officers

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At their annual meeting held Thursday, February 20, 2014, the members of Downtown Chestertown Association unanimously elected new members of the Executive Committee, who will serve until February, 2016. The elected officers are:

Kristen Owen, President
Kristen Owen is a loan officer at Chesapeake Bank & Trust Company, where she has been employed since 2005 after graduating from McDaniel College. A native of the Chestertown area, she began working in Downtown Chestertown at age 16 when she received her first part-time job at The Finishing Touch. Kristen is happy to be living and working in Kent County, and is dedicated to promoting local businesses and all the community has to offer.

Barbara Jorgenson, Vice President
Barbara Jorgenson is an attorney, now practicing primarily from Chestertown since moving here full time in 2009. She has been DCA’s pro bono legal counsel since 2010. She has been instrumental in assisting the Historical Society of Kent County in the creation and operation of The Little Shop on the Corner in the Bordley History Center, keeping that vital downtown corner active and alive.

Robert Ortiz, Vice President
Bob Ortiz has owned a business in downtown Chestertown for 17 years where he lives with his family. In addition to designing and making fine furniture, he and his business are dedicated to supporting the arts and cultural diversity in the community.

Kathryn Bursick, Secretary
Kathryn Bursick is the Managing Director and chief administrative officer of the Garfield Center for the Arts at the historic Prince Theatre in downtown Chestertown. A resident of Kent County since 2007, she most recently served as the Assistant Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College and the Assistant Editor of the Literary House Press. She was a founder of the Chestertown Book Festival and served as its board president in 2009 and 2010.

Robert Ramsey, Treasurer
Bob Ramsey opened The Finishing Touch, a retail business located in downtown Chestertown, a year after graduating from University of Delaware in 1977. In that time he has served on the Board of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce for two terms and been a member of the Downtown Chestertown Association for 34 years, serving as its president 3 times. He lives in Queen Anne’s County on the upper Chester River.

Nancy McGuire, outgoing President of DCA, remarked, “We are quite proud of our new Executive Committee. I will rejoice in DCA’s new found opportunities and accomplishments under the new stewardship.” McGuire will act as ex officio member of the Executive Committee for the next two years, as well as chair the Membership Committee and serve on the Curb Appeal Committee.

The members of Downtown Chestertown Association extend their gratitude to Nancy McGuire for the work she has done as leader of the organization for the last four years. “Nancy’s passion for Chestertown and its business community is unrivaled,” said Kristen Owen. “We are fortunate to have her guidance and perspective as we work to improve and promote Downtown Chestertown.”

Downtown Chestertown Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting businesses and professional services in Chestertown through activities that encourage residents and tourists to visit and shop locally. For more information, contact Kristen Owen at downtownchestertown@gmail.com or 410-778-1600. Visit Downtown Chestertown Association on the web at downtownchestertown.com and facebook.com/downtownchestertown.

Maryland Companies Have Billions in Assets Overseas

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The president’s budget, released in early March, called for the creation of a national fund to finance repair of the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure — an idea also proposed by a freshman Maryland congressman.

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US Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac

Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac, wants to fund infrastructure repair by bringing home billions of dollars in foreign earnings from U.S.-based corporations.  The congressman said he has been long concerned about decaying infrastructure.

Delaney’s Partnership to Build America Act would create a new way to pay for these repairs. Corporations would provide the money by buying bonds in The American Infrastructure Fund.

In exchange, they would be allowed to bring back money locked up overseas without paying the full 35 percent corporate tax rate.

Delaney’s bill could come as a relief to corporations with large foreign operations that have deferred paying U.S. corporate taxes on their overseas earnings indefinitely. For example, 10 Maryland-based multinational corporations, including Columbia-based MICROS Systems Inc. and Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc., are holding a combined $3.5 billion overseas, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 1.42.15 PMWhile it would mean a major tax savings, none of the 10 publicly held Maryland companies contacted would comment on the proposed legislation.

One expert said there’s little incentive to bring the funds back with so much business opportunity overseas. Instead, it makes sense for U.S. companies to let the overseas funds stay put and postpone a U.S. tax bill.

“It’s better to defer,” said Michael Faulkender, a finance professor at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

Further, the Delaney proposal is out of sync with many plans to overhaul the U.S. tax code, he said. “Every proposal on the table is for the corporate tax rate to go down, not up.”

Rich Badmington, W.R. Grace & Co.’s vice president of global communications, said most of the Columbia chemical company’s revenue comes from international operations. The company plans to continue investing in those operations.

“We are able to do that without bringing cash back to the U.S. because we are continuing to invest,” Badmington said. “(Research and development) is a function that requires continuing investment and we have quite a lot of that outside the U.S.”

President Barack Obama’s latest budget plan called for the creation of a government-owned entity to finance infrastructure projects. Delaney said the president’s support for something similar to his bill was “great,” and said it shows how much momentum the bill has.

“We’re very optimistic about it, we have strong bipartisan support,” Delaney said.

The bill has 57 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., head of the Senate Finance Committee’s Taxation and IRS Oversight subcommittee. Hearings have not been scheduled for the bill.

Under the tax code, corporations can avoid paying taxes on foreign earnings as long as the money is being permanently reinvested overseas. When the corporations decide to bring these funds back home, a process called “repatriation,” the money then is subject to U.S. taxes.

Originally, the tax exemption was meant to help U.S. corporations compete overseas, said Mitchell Kane, a tax professor at New York University’s School of Law. Companies claimed paying taxes in two countries would put them at a disadvantage and the government responded with the exemption, he said.

The plan was to have the companies pay foreign taxes, which in many cases are lower than the U.S. tax rate, and then pay U.S. taxes when the money was repatriated. After this process, the company would receive a credit for any foreign taxes paid, Kane said.

Allowing such an exemption has created an incentive for companies to keep their money overseas and defer the U.S. corporate tax, said Jane Gravelle, an economist with the Congressional Research Service. But parking money offshore isn’t a long-term solution for companies, she added.

“They may think they can hold their breath forever and borrow money,” Gravelle said. “How long are they going to be able to do that? Shareholders eventually want dividends.”

This exemption could result in $265.7 billion in lost revenue for the federal government through 2017, according to a 2013 report by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

For now, however, companies aren’t likely to repatriate without a major tax discount.

W.R. Grace has more than $1.1 billion held overseas and would have to pay $149.7 million in taxes if it was repatriated, according to SEC filings. That money will remain overseas, except in instances where repatriation would result in minimal or no U.S. taxes, the company said in its most recent SEC filing.

MICROS Systems, a Maryland-based computer hardware and software producer, has about 61 percent of its cash and cash equivalents, $385.8 million, held internationally with no plans to repatriate, according to the company’s most recent filings with the SEC.

Maryland-based apparel company Under Armour has $95.2 million, or 27 percent, of its cash and cash equivalents held overseas with no plans to bring it back.

Spokespersons from MICROS and Under Armour could not be reached for comment.

Other companies have begun to repatriate their foreign funds, which Kane said could help cover corporate expenses. McCormick & Company, a spice, herbs and flavoring manufacturer, repatriated $70 million in 2012, according to the company’s most recent SEC filings. Even still, most of the company’s cash is held in foreign subsidiaries, the filings said.

A spokesperson for McCormick and Co. could not be reached for comment.

Some of the largest U.S. corporations make about half of their money internationally, Delaney said. The bill is just a way to get some of it back.

“It creates a way for some of that money to come back, which is good for our economy,” Delaney said. “And it creates this large-scale infrastructure fund, which is good for our country.”

Instead of government funding, the American Infrastructure Fund would raise cash through a $50 billion bond offering. Companies would buy the bonds at a 1 percent fixed interest rate and a 50-year term, in exchange for a chance to repatriate a certain portion of overseas earnings tax-free for every dollar spent on bonds.

A bond to repatriation ratio would be determined by an auction and could result in companies paying an effective 12 percent tax rate, Delaney said. Money raised in the bond sale could then be leveraged and loaned to state and local governments for projects.

The auction process will benefit both the infrastructure fund and the corporations, which will be able to find a price that is right for them, Delaney said.

“We’ve talked to them and they’re very supportive of it,” he said.

The American Business Conference, Associated Equipment Distributors and Terex Corporation are among those supporting the bill.

Tech giants and pharmaceutical corporations have lobbied for a repatriation holiday since the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act allowed them to repatriate at a discounted rate. Because of the intellectually-based capital that these companies thrive on, it is sometimes easier for them to keep assets overseas.

For example, Apple has $124.4 billion held overseas, according to the company’s most recent SEC filing.

The 2004 bill reduced repatriation taxes to 5.25 percent if corporations promised to invest the money at home. The one-year holiday is widely regarded as a failure because it spurred an increase in repatriation, but not an increase in jobs or investments, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

“The argument was that it would be a stimulus” to the U.S. economy, Gravelle said. “Most people who studied this found out it was being used to repurchase shares.”

Share repurchases are a common way to boost stock prices.

Corporations used the money to pay stockholders dividends and pay off debts, which doesn’t make for a good stimulus, she continued.  Instead, the holiday created a “moral hazard” and companies have parked money overseas, waiting for the next holiday, Gravelle said.

Delaney’s bill has short-term benefits but doesn’t address the larger problems with the tax code, Faulkender said. Corporations will want to move more and more operations overseas if they can find discounts on U.S. taxes, he added.

“If you signal that firms are going to realize a lower tax rate, even after repatriation, on their foreign operations than on their domestic operations, you’re going to incentivize even more offshoring,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s good for the U.S. economy.”

By 
Capital News Service

Rural Maryland Council Welcomes New Board Members

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Nine regional leaders were recently elected to the board of directors of the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). RMC is an independent state agency that brings together rural leaders, government officials at all levels, and the representatives of the non-profit and for-profit sectors to develop public policy solutions to the challenges unique to rural Maryland.

Elected to a one year term ending in 2014 are:
*Loretta Lodge, executive director of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, representing District 4 – Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties.
*Stephen Wright, Ph.D., associate dean/associate director of University of Maryland Extension.
*John Hartline, executive director of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland.
*Craig Hartsock, council president of the Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.

Elected to a two-year term ending in 2015 are:
*David Smith, town manager for the Town of Hancock, representing Maryland Municipal League.
*Perry Stutman, Queenstown town commissioner, representing Maryland Municipal League.
*Santo Grande, chief executive officer of Delmarva Community Services, representing Maryland Association of Community Action Agencies.
*Al Silverstein, president and chief executive officer of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce.
*William McGowan, Ed.D., USDA Rural Development state director for Delaware and Maryland.

“Having a diverse board helps us respond to the many and varied needs of our constituents,” says Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council. “I look forward to working with our new board members in the coming years as we tackle the challenges our rural communities face,” she adds.

Founded in 1994, the RMC operates under the direction of a 40-member executive board in a nonpartisan and nondiscriminatory manner. It serves as the voice of rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts.

To learn more about the Rural Maryland Council call (410) 841-5774 or email rmc.mda@maryland.gov.

Star-Democrat and Kent County News Sold

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Adams Publishing Group has announced it has sold three newspaper divisions from American Consolidated Media, including the Chesapeake Publishing Group, which publishes the Star Democrat, Bay Times, Times-Record, Record Observer, Kent County News, Dorchester Star and Eastern Shore Bargaineer on the Mid-Shore.

Adams Publishing Group also bought the Superior and Ohio publishing groups from ACM. The purchase includes a total of 34 print publications, special print products, digital media assets and commercial printing facilities.

More Details as they come in

Washington Plaza Retailers Struggling Without Grocery Store

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Several of the smaller retailers at Washington Square Shopping Center say business is down considerably since Fresh & Greens closed on Dec. 29. They say the loss of the anchor store has made the traditionally slow January and February even slower.

“It’s especially slow with Fresh & Greens gone, and you really feel it on the weekends,” said a retailer who asked to remain anonymous.

Some retailers have become more anxious after learning that ACME, located at the rival Kent Plaza Shopping Center, announced it will expand its floor space by 40 percent. Heightening their concerns was an announcement that the landlord at Kent Plaza, Cordish Companies, had committed $1 million to modernize the 50-year-old complex.

“We’re going to get killed by this, their parking lot is always full with [grocery] shoppers who buy from the smaller stores as well,” the retailer said. “We’ve got to get a grocery store back.”

But is there pressure on Washington Square’s landlord, Dennis Silicato, to get a new grocer? Fresh & Greens will continue to pay rent until 2016 under the terms of the lease and retailers are asking what is Silicato’s incentive to fill the space anytime soon.

Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino said he has spoken with Silicato, who assured him that a real effort was underway to find a new grocer.

“He understands it’s in his best interest to fill that space as soon as he can,” Cerino said.

Silicato did not answer a request for comment by the deadline of this story.

 

 

Press Release: LaMotte Hosts Latin American Summit on Water Quality

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On January 15 and 16, 2014, LaMotte Company hosted its first Latin American Summit as it welcomed distributors arriving from México, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Trinidad, Costa Rica, and Panamá.  Conferees gathered at Washington College for two days of intense round-table discussions on water quality testing technology, sales and marketing strategies, and building a joint vision of the future.

Company President David LaMotte gave a keynote presentation stressing the importance of the Americas and distributors to LaMotte’s continuing success. He later recognized the distributors who have been with the company the longest, as well as those with the most sales and the most improved. Attendees were treated to a tour of the LaMotte plant, a walking tour of Historic Chestertown and dinning at local restaurants. Going forward, the summit significantly helped cement LaMotte’s relationships in the Americas for the foreseeable future.

The LaMotte Company is located on its own 15-acre industrial park in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Established in 1919, LaMotte is a manufacturer of environmental test equipment including analytical reagents, laboratory apparatus, electronic instrumentation, and complete portable test kits for chemical analysis of water and soil. The company sells globally to every continent in 48 countries.

Contact:
Wendy Moorhouse
410-778-310o

Loblolly Recognized as Force Behind Growing “Chesapeake Wine Country”

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Loblolly Productions was awarded the Veraison Award at the February 8, 2014 Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA) Annual Conference. The Veraison Award is presented annually to an industry supporter who helps further the viticulture industry in the State of Maryland. The MGGA board felt that Loblolly’s on-going efforts through their initiative – shorevines.com – dedicated to promoting and marketing vineyards and wineries was beneficial to not only the Eastern Shore of Maryland but also to the industry as a whole.

Carolyn Baldwin President Maryland Grape Grower's Association (left), Lotte Bowie Partner Loblolly Productions (right).

Carolyn Baldwin President Maryland Grape Grower’s Association (left), Lotte Bowie Partner Loblolly Productions (right).

Accepting the award, Lotte made note that the on-going sponsorship of the Upper Shore Regional Council of Maryland has been critical to the success of shorevines as an information resource spurring the growth of more vineyards and wineries on the shore. Lotte went on to comment that the Chesapeake Wine Trail numbers 11 wineries with at least 6 more on the near horizon.

“Our next goal is to make sure that the story of the Chesapeake’s winemakers is clearly heard, not only to the tourists who flock to the region, or even the Western critics who have increasingly come to appreciate Eastern Shore wine, but also to our local populace. To illustrate the potential of our Chesapeake Wine Country and have our eastern shore community members drink its fruits would be a satisfying accomplishment,” concluded Lotte in her acceptance speech.

Photo by Emily Johnston