Join the Bi-County Business Roundtable :: News Updates for Your Business

Welcome to the Bi-County Business Roundtable, a newsletter that provides information and news for our business community. We can’t thank you enough for all the support you showed us this year. May 2022 be filled with success and wealth. We are looking forward to continue working with you as it’s hard to imagine where our business would be without your help and endless support. We are so lucky to have the most loyal and supporting business partners! Thank you for being with us throughout the whole year. Let’s make this year even more successful!

Happy New Year from the Bi-County Business Roundtable!

Bi-County Business Roundtable
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Gov. Larry Hogan names new Maryland commerce secretary, transportation head

Gov. Larry Hogan announced a trio of new appointments Thursday, including bringing back a familiar face to head the Maryland Department of Commerce.

Mike Gill, who is currently chairman of Columbia-based Evergreen Advisors, will once again serve as secretary of commerce, a role he previously held under Hogan from 2015 to 2019. He succeeds Kelly Schulz, who was previously head of the Department of Labor and took over the job from Gill in 2019.

The release did not detail why Schulz decided to step down from her post, but in April, Schulz launched a campaign for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.

Hogan also announced that James F. Ports Jr., currently executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) will take over as secretary of the Department of Transportation. Ports will succeed Greg Slater, who has served as secretary since February 2020 and has “accepted an opportunity in the transportation industry out of state,” according to a release.

William Pines, MDTA’s chief engineer, will succeed Ports as MDTA executive director.

All three appointments are effective Jan. 11. Both Gill and Ports must be confirmed by the Maryland Senate.  Read More

Ocean City wants offshore wind turbines built farther from shore. Is their request possible?

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says he supports clean energy-producing wind turbines off the coast of his Eastern Shore beach town. He just doesn’t want them to be so close.

His request to have them moved farther from shore dates back almost five years and has only become more pressing as the size of the proposed turbines has increased and two developers advance their plans for the state’s first offshore wind farms — one that could bring 800-foot turbines as close as 12 miles from Ocean City’s beaches.

Meehan and many local residents argue that’s far too close to shore, and that the turbines will forever alter the town’s natural ocean views and negatively impact tourism. But the developers behind the wind projects say moving the turbines is all but impossible at this stage in the process and doing so would set the state’s offshore wind efforts back years.

As the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) works to complete its final reviews of Maryland’s offshore projects, the years-long clash appears to be coming to a head. While Meehan and many Ocean City residents are running out of options in their quest to move the turbines back, there is a narrow path forward for them.  Read More

Here’s what real estate economists are predicting for the 2022 housing market

A lot more of the dynamics seen in 2021 — but at a much less frenzied pace — is expected to be on tap for next year’s housing market.

Redfin Corp. (NASDAQ: RDFN), Zillow Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ZG), Realtor.com and the National Association of Realtors, among others, have released their forecasts for the 2022 U.S. housing market, with similar themes, although some variations, among each source.

Home-price appreciation is widely expected to continue next year, but not at the breakneck rate seen in 2021. By the end of 2022, home-price growth will slow to 3%, predicts Seattle-based Redfin. Realtor.com out of Santa Clara, California, is forecasting 2.9% home-price appreciation nationally. This year will likely end at nearly 20% year-over-year home-price appreciation nationally, according to Zillow.

But Zillow, in its most recent forecast for the 12-month period ending Oct. 31, 2022, is still predicting big home-price spikes. It predicts home values to grow 13.6% between October 2021 to October 2022.

“Inventory is still very, very low,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Seattle-based Zillow. “Buyers don’t have many options, so they’re still competing over a small pool of active listings.”  Read More

More Maryland hospitals issue disaster declarations as Covid surges

Maryland hospitals are taking rare steps to handle a surge of new Covid-19 hospitalizations, with three institutions issuing hospital disaster declarations in the past few days.

As of Tuesday morning, the hospitals that had declared disasters and begun operating under crisis standards of care are:

  • University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air
  • University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace
  • University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie

Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center in Lanham said Monday they are operating under contingency standards and may enter crisis level soon.

Covid hospitalizations in Maryland (which hit a low of about 100 in July) were up to more than 1,800 as of Tuesday morning, according to state data.

Almost every hospital in the Baltimore area was on a yellow or red alert Tuesday, according to the County/Hospital Alert Tracking System, meaning their emergency departments were currently overwhelmed or had no available critical care beds. At least four area hospitals reported setting up life-support units in their emergency department because no other beds were available.  Read More

Maryland Sets Record 2,046 COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Adds Nearly 11K New Cases

The latest data from the state Department of Health shows hospitalizations are up to 2,046, an increase of 220 patients over the past 24 hours. That’s higher than the state’s previous peak of 1,952 hospitalizations, recorded in January of 2021.

Of those hospitalized, 1,657 are adults in adult care and 367 are adults in intensive care. There are 15 children in acute care and another seven in the ICU.

Several hospitals, including Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and UMD Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Annapolis, shifted to crisis protocols this week, citing an explosion in the number of COVID-19 patients they’re treating.

The Maryland Hospital Association is asking Hogan to reinstate a limited public health emergency, saying hospitals are nearly full and their emergency departments are “stretched incredibly thin.”

Health experts have said the surge is being fueled by the unvaccinated, who make up roughly three-quarters of COVID-19 patients. The rest are described as vaccinated people at heightened risk either due to age or preexisting conditions.

Earlier this month, hospitals statewide were directed to free up beds and suspend non-emergency procedures once hospitalizations surpassed the 1,500-mark. The state also established a surge operations center to help manage bed capacity, and pledged $100 million to help shore up staffing at hospitals and nursing homes.  Read More