Tag: jobs

Fortune Mag Focuses on Mondawmin Mall to Illustrate Libor Impact

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Courtesy Citybizlist – Fortune Magazine writer Katie Benner penned a recent article headlined, “Baltimore: the city that sues the banks.”

She was trying to ascertain the impact of the Libor scandal (where some banks are alleged to have manipulated interest rates) on cities and municipalities.

“One might think that low rates would help a borrower, just as they help a mortgage or credit card holder, but in this case the opposite is true. Baltimore is not a rich town. The triple punch of the credit crisis, housing crash, and recession has forced the city to choose. Fire departments or afterschool programs? Police or libraries? As the first municipality to seek reparations in response to this alleged scheme, Baltimore was my destination to see how the Libor scandal was playing out.”

Why Baltimore Is Better than Silicon Valley

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Baltimore is a top city for tech jobs.

Silicon Valley is old news; if you want a tech job these days, according to Forbes, you’d be hard pressed to do better than… well, right here. Fun fact:  while California still has four times as many tech jobs as the national average, it turns out that the job growth is happening elsewhere. That’s partly because the gold-rush fever of a “tech-driven jobs boom” conveniently ignores the bust half of the cycle; according to Forbes, Silicon Valley actually employed 170,000 fewer people in 2011 than in 2000.

A Bleak Picture for Baltimore’s Soon-to-Be College Grads

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“When people ask, ‘What do you want to do when you graduate?’ I feel like yelling, ‘Whatever I can do for whoever will hire me,’” Towson University senior Maria Malagari told the Towson Towerlight. She’s hardly alone; this year’s soon-to-be college grads are entering a job market that should make the rest of us grateful that we’re not members of the Class of 2012. (And if you are — sorry!) According to a recent study commissioned by the Associated Press, half of young college graduates are either un- or under-employed. Job prospects for young people with bachelor’s degrees are at the lowest level in more than a decade.

The AP’s analysis of government data is one of the first to take into account the problem of underemployment — that is, when grads have some sort of way to earn money, but not one that employs their skills or offers promise of future advancement. With tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, twenty-somethings feel lucky to get a job as a barista or retail clerk.

Of course, it’s not equally bleak for everyone. Those graduating with degrees in nursing, teaching, accounting, or computer science have much stronger prospects than arts or humanities grads. And suddenly, the time-honored wisdom of going to college in order to snag a high-paying job stops seeming quite so logical. “You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman. However, “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.” Most of the careers with the largest projected job growth over the next decade don’t require a college degree.

Back here in Baltimore, the soon-to-be Class of 2012 at Towson remains (nervously) undaunted. “I’m going to keep researching and applying to jobs no matter how many rejections I get,” Malagari told the Towerlight. “I’m still hopeful. I know something will open for me soon.”

This Week in Research: A Complete Meltdown on Earth; Corporations Have Too Much Cash

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This one was hard for me to wrap my head around:  so, Earth used to be much smaller than it was. Geochemists at the University of Maryland can tell this from studying Earth’s mantle — the rocky layer between our planet’s metallic core and its outer crust. But back in those wild days of planet formation — that is, ten to twenty million years after the formation of the Solar System — we were getting knocked around quite a bit. And some of those collisions made our planet bigger. At some point back then, researchers posit, Earth smashed into another planet-sized body whirling through space… and thus our bratty little sister orb, the Moon, was born. But despite the many collisions, a part of Earth’s mantle stayed solid, and is part of our planet to this day. Lucky for us it worked out this way:  “Prior to this finding, scientific consensus held that the internal heat of the early Earth, in part generated by a massive impact between the proto-Earth and a planetoid approximately half its size (i.e., the size of Mars), would have led to vigorous mixing and perhaps even complete melting of the Earth.” Complete melting of the Earth! It sounds like an action-adventure movie. But when the UM researchers found volcanic rocks in Russia that were 2.8 billion years old (yep, billion with a b), they found complicated differences in isotopic composition that indicated that Earth’s mantle (or at least part of it) was able to withstand that early battering. In other words, we’ve never had a complete meltdown. Good to know.

Even in our sluggishly-recovering economy, U.S. corporations have money. Approximately $508 billion, in fact — and that’s their excess cash holdings, meaning the money they don’t need for normal operations. And while that may be less than the $2 trillion figure that gets thrown around, it’s still more than three percent of our country’s GDP. “Spending even a fraction of these cash reserves on capital investment could substantially boost economic growth and employment,” says Jeffrey Werling, who heads the University of Maryland’s Inforum Research Center. That doesn’t mean giving each American her share of the excess cash ($1,623 each!). Instead, the UM economists crunched some numbers and found that if that money was spent wisely over the next three years, it could boost the workforce by adding 2.4 million jobs in the next two years — thus reducing the employment rate by 1.5 percent. A nice added effect would be to bump the U.S. GDP up by 1 percent in 2012, 1.5 percent in 2013, and 1.6 percent in 2014. Or corporations could work together to create an “Infrastructure Bank,” which would support investing in infrastructure projects throughout the country. According to the economists’ models, this could boost investment in local, state, and federal structures by as much as $250 billion by 2016 and adding 1.1 million new jobs. How would you spend the money?

Where the Jobs Will Be in 2020 (Hint: Baltimore!)

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If the economy has had you feeling grim, just be patient. Wait around a few years, and things will look better — especially around the Baltimore area, it seems.

So says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released its employment projections through 2020 last week. With professional services, health care, and education slated to be the sectors with the most potential for growth in the next decade, the Baltimore area is poised for increased job creation.  In fact, the Baltimore-Towson area is the ninth-best metro area for projected job growth by 2020. And there’s good news for our neighbors as well — the DC/Arlington/Alexandria area comes in at number one, with Bethesda/Rockville/Frederick in second place. (Other potential winners? Colorado Springs, New York, El Paso, and Baton Rouge.)

And you can once again thank your higher power that you’re not living in Gary, Indiana; Salt Lake City; Cincinnati; or Greensboro, North Carolina — all cities at the bottom of the list.

For Sale: Best Job in Baltimore

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A few weeks ago, Darielle Linehan, owner of the Ivy Bookshop, sent a letter to a select group of people. It read:

 

Dear Ivy Friends:

 

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to retire in early 2012 and I wanted you as loyal and valued customers to be among the first to know of this future change. This was an exceedingly difficult decision to make and came as a result of my wanting to spend more time with my family… 

 

The letter — available on the counter at The Ivy Bookshop, which Mrs. Linehan opened in 2002, and has owned and managed for nearly 10 years – goes on to say that she  is putting the Ivy up for sale and would welcome inquiries from any potential buyer.  She adds that beloved as the Ivy is, she believes it could be even better, under “new leadership with the requisite new ideas, attitudes and skill sets to better position our business for the future.”

 

If that isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is. How many times have you drifted out of the Ivy thinking “…owning the Ivy must be the best job in the world.”  The main reason for that — the amazing Ivy staff — is already in place, and our sources say they’re all staying – which alone is a reason to grab it.  The clientele is somewhere between loyal and addicted – and paying full price, knowing damn well they can get it cheaper on Amazon.

 

Alright, nobody makes a fortune in the book business. But we have real information saying that “if it’s not making money hand-over-fist, it’s definitely not losing money – and it has the potential to make much more.” Think more events, more publicity, and a website.  But please, keep the free gift-wrapping.

 

The Ivy Bookshop, all 2,200 square feet of it, is located in Lake Falls Village, at 6080 Falls Road. For inquiries call the Ivy, at 410-377-2966.


We Have a Winner!

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Last month we asked for your stories of summer jobs in hell.  This tale about a job in a dirt factory during a hellishly hot Georgia summer will make you grateful to be unemployed. Dirty worker, please identify yourself at [email protected] to claim your $50 gift certificate to Grand Cru and go get yourself a well-deserved beer!

“Worst day of my worst summer job was back when I worked at a dirt factory (and yes, we processed and manufactured dirt) in southeast Georgia. The day started like any other. It was about seven in the morning, the sun was coming up and my best friend and I were getting our orders for the day. It seems that we needed to empty a silo that was filled with gypsum. The job started with us torching a five-foot by two-foot door at the bottom of the silo. Once the metal was removed we were then greeted with a solid wall of gypsum. Now, to catch a few of you up, gypsum is a very soft mineral composed mostly of calcium sulfate dihydrate. Key word there is dihydrate. This silo had been sitting over half full for over four years in one of the most humid places in this country. Needless to say, after that amount of time it absorbed a lot of water and became rock hard. We began to shovel at it, getting a very small amount at a time. We began to pick at it with a pickax just to break it up and get a little progress going. By this time it is about 10:30 and already a hundred degrees. My friend and I are covered head to toe in this mineral and barely have a hole dug. We felt like it was going nowhere but, hey, a full silo needing emptying is definitely job security so we just kept on keeping on. When we got back from lunch it was about 1 o’clock and also about 105 degrees by now. We came up with a brilliant idea to take a sledge hammer and start beating on the silo to try to break up some of the looser stuff that was on top. We were making more progress this way and after about an hour, while I was beating on it, a wave of gypsum comes pouring out, covers me up to my knees and scares the crap out of us actually. The top two-thirds that wasn’t as hard finally gave way and all poured out this tiny door at the bottom of this three-story silo. At this point we’re pretty good. All we had to do now was get the front end loader, scoop it up one load at a time and take it about 100 yards away. When we got done it was quitting time. We took one look in the silo and knew that, starting the next morning, we were going to have to hang out in this silo in this heat and manually shovel out the remaining 15 feet of gypsum. Oh happy days.”

Workin’ Like a Dog (or Cat)

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At Ace hardware in Waverly, store manager Mark Dutton affectionately refers to Benjamin as his “best employee.” Benjamin is the store’s resident cat, who is often found lounging at shoulder height near the checkout counter for convenient petting by customers and cashiers.

Mark was inspired to have a store cat by the Federal Hill Ace location, which hosts a cat named “Decker” (after Black & Decker). When the Waverly branch opened up he immediately applied to get a cat there, and for a while didn’t hear anything further about it. But eventually he received a call which stated flatly, “You may not be ready for a cat today, but you’re getting a cat today.” And Benjamin (after Benjamin Moore), who was scheduled for euthanasia that day, was brought to the Waverly Ace to begin his new life as a store cat.

His presence seems to have a positive effect on the atmosphere in the store. Employees and customers alike exude easy-going positivity (even in the middle of a desperate search for the right metric bolts). Some of that might be attributable to Mark’s approachability setting the tone for the store. But I know when I’m looking for light bulbs that fit my ceiling fan (the ones that are smaller than normal but not really small), a glance over at the perpetually restful and happy Benjamin reminds me to take it easy.

Ace isn’t the only area employer that has learned to channel the pacifying power of non-humans. As a low-cost perk, many local businesses now allow pets in the workplace, including MICA in Baltimore (which welcomes over 150 pets onto its campus every day), IMRE Communications in the County, Gramophone in Timonium, and Marinalife in the Inner Harbor. With the almost universal success of these programs, expect to see more dogs, cats, and rabbits joining the rat race in the near future.

Grim job market sends 20-somethings farming in Hampden. Yes, Hampden!

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Coast down hilly Ash Street in Hampden and you’ll spy a couple of queen-size iron headboards sprouting from a hill that’s been neatly divided into planted rows. The headboards function perfectly as trellises, but they look like funky sculpture.

Welcome to the Baltimore Free Farm, one of more than a dozen garden programs cropping up locally.

In January of 2010, Don Barton, 28, and a dozen or so friends, all in their twenties, all of whom found job prospects in Baltimore extremely dim, decided to found a farm in Hampden, and attempt to live off the food they raised.

Through Baltimore City’s Adopt-a-Lot program, Barton’s acquaintances Bill Hudson and Allison Guitard had secured an abandoned plot suitable for community gardening, and invited their more creative, industrious friends to roll up their flannel sleeves and plant.

The young farmers lease two buildings on site, a row house, where five of the participants reside, and a multi-use warehouse, ideal for rooftop gardening. Money’s tight, but expenses low. They stage fundraisers to help make ends meet, and received $10,000 early on from Kickstarter.com. Helps, too, that the landlord gave them a big break in rent, after the crafty crew promised to rehab the warehouse week by week.

Currently, a few hundred people participate in the Free Farm. City dwellers rent four-by-eight foot plots and raise food seasonally, for a donation of their choosing.

“We really want to lift the [intimidating] veil of mystique off food production,” Barton explains. “To show people how to do it and learn to do it ourselves.”

Seedlings have just been started in the group’s greenhouse: onion, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant coming soon.

Most days you can find at least several Free Farm members working outdoors, on the steep hillside land they call their own. Barton says they were very pleased, and frankly relieved, that soil analysis revealed healthy Hampden dirt (for the most part).

“We’re growing in the ground on our hill; it’s safe soil,” Barton says. “When we can’t vouch for the soil, we use a raised bed technique. You build a box and put landscaping plastic or a barrier, and fill it with soil, and you can grow in it.”

Core group members possess an impressive range of practical skills. Barton grew up in Carroll County, raising chickens, planting, and canning. His girlfriend, A.J. Sherman, does fiber work and screen-printing professionally. She helps decorate the space and stage colorful community events. Other workers are adept with carpentry, cooking, and coaxing a nice array of delicious veggies to life.

It sounds like a free-style hippie commune on one level, yes, but these kids seem much more driven than your typical song-singing hippies. They’re committed for the long haul, to educating people about growing food locally, and sharing and selling a portion of what they can produce. (Thus far, they’ve sold tomatoes to Woodberry Kitchen and Frazier’s.)

“I’d like to think Baltimore will follow through—we can clean this place up and make a difference,” Barton says.

Upcoming plans include alternative energy projects, and raising hens for their eggs.

“We plan to experiment with growing prawns and tilapia in tanks,” Barton explains. “And we’ll incorporate an alternative energy system to power the system—a [specialized] roof for rain collection can feed the tanks. Rooftop gardening is in the works. Up there, plants can be directly fertilized.”

Volunteers are welcome to help with farm chores every Saturday. The address: 3519 Ash Street. To learn more about the Baltimore Free Farm or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to: www.baltimorefreefarm.org

Invasion of the Techies

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Long renowned for its industrial/manufacturing-based economy—which nearly disappeared over the final three decades of the 20th Century – Baltimore, in the past 10-plus years, gradually has established a thriving technology-driven business community. While not on a par with California’s Silicon Valley, the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, or even the stretch along I-270 in Montgomery County, Baltimore has recently begun to flex its economic muscles, fueled by support from the city and state governments, local universities, and, especially, innovative private entrepreneurs. Prominent among them are the following six individuals, determined to shepherd the city out of its rust-encrusted past into a wired future.

1 & 2. Yair Flicker (28) and John Trupiano (27), co-principals of technology consultancy SmartLogic

Yair Flicker

In a straight-from-the-tech-startup-playbook scenario, Yair Flicker and John Trupiano launched SmartLogic in 2005 in their respective apartments. Now operated from proper offices in Canton, their firm helps both startups and established companies implement innovative technology, shows marketers how to leverage technology to aid their clients, and demonstrates to existing businesses how Web-based applications can cut costs and drive revenue.

John Trupiano

SmartLogic boasts a smorgasbord of clients, from the Kidney Paired Donation project, which employs software to efficiently match kidney donors with kidney recipients, to the Spotcrime.com iPhone application, which allows users to type in their address – or any address – and up pops a crime map for the immediate area from the nation’s largest crime-accessible database (“My mom loves the service and is an avid user,” declares Flicker).

Not forgetting JP Morgan Chase, for which SmartLogic built a competitive analysis tool, and Brown University’s Distance Learning Program, for which it devised an online course management system used by the school’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Meanwhile, Flicker and Trupiano’s relentless efforts to increase Baltimore’s tech savvy include sponsoring a gaggle of events such as—geek alert!—Bmore on Rails, Baltimore Javascript Users group, Refresh B’more, Ignite Baltimore, and BohConf.

 

3. Greg Cangialosi (37), president and CEO of e-mail marketer Blue Sky Factory

Greg Cangialosi

Greg Cangialosi sheds no tears for the withering offline marketing industry. Goodbye and good riddance to clunky brochures, hotel-conference-room dog-and-pony shows, and sweaty basement phone banks. Since 2001, when he founded Federal Hill-based Blue Sky Factory, Cangialosi has grown the company from two employees to a team of 25, cementing its reputation as a national leader in e-mail marketing. Its client roster features music concert promoter and producer behemoth Live Nation, testing and assessment services provider Prometric, and global PR agency Weber Shandwick.

“E-mail marketing is an immediate, versatile channel in which you can build relationships and stay in front of your audience,” Cangialosi says. “When done right, effective e-mail marketing will ultimately help your business make more money.”

Locally, Blue Sky Factory stokes the city’s old-school wired community as an active member of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, on whose board Cangialosi serves as vice chair. Other close-to-home partnerships/associations include the Baltimore Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the Social Media Club of Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce.

“We help many local organizations build their presence in social media,” he notes, “and educate them as to where they should be focusing their online marketing efforts in order to grow their business.”

4. Martin Roesch (41), founder and chief technology officer of cybersecurity provider Sourcefire

Martin Roesch

Sourcefire takes its mission – protecting the data infrastructure of corporations, U.S. civilian government agencies, and the American military from malicious Internet attacks – seriously. Extremelyseriously. So seriously, in fact, that the Columbia-based firm’s website fails to mention even one of its clients, and its PR division, when asked to cough up a couple names, responds, “Typically, the company does not disclose customer information.” Okay, okay: Message received.

Founded in 2001 by Martin Roesch, who served as the firm’s first CEO, Surefire parlayed the success of the Roesch-written Snort intrusion-detection/prevention software into wider commercial applications. In the ensuing years, kerfuffles and epiphanies rocked the company: the feds ixnayed its purchase by an Israeli firm; Sourcefire rejected a takeover bid by another U.S. company; it completed a successful IPO; and, long after Roesch gave up the CEO title, a successor bowed out in favor of even fresher blood. Ultimately, a stronger Sourcefire emerged.

Accordingly, this past winter, Forbes magazine tabbed Sourcefire at #15 on its list of 25 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the U.S., the only Maryland firm mentioned, and it now stands poised to expand exponentially with the massive infusion to the state of military and commercial contractors associated with the federal Base Relocation and Closure process.

And Sourcefire, it turns out, despite its overt cloak-and-daggerism, actually possesses a sense of humor. Inside its fortress of solitude, a bumper sticker in Roesch’s office wisecracks “My Kid Reads Your Honor Student’s Email.”

5. Tom Loveland (50), founder and CEO of consulting and technology services firm Minds Over Machines

Tom Loveland

Though only 50, Tom Loveland comes off as somewhat Brahmin-like in the context Baltimore’s youngish techie horde, having launched Minds Over Machines, his Web-design/IT-strategy/software-development business in 1989, the equivalent of the digital Pleistocene Era. Under Loveland’s leadership, the Owings Mills-based company has undertaken successfulprojects for a disparate group of government and commercial clients, notably the furniture/home accessories maker IKEA, contracting company Whiting-Turner, Calvert Educational Services, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently cited as one of the 50 most Influential Marylanders by the Daily Record and a member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, Loveland founded the Maryland Computer Services Association, a lobbying group that in 2008 cajoled the General Assembly to rescind a six-percent statewide technology tax before the law was implemented.

Last year, he was named (unpaid) “Google Czar” by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In that capacity, Loveland marshaled the city’s public and private tech forces in an effort to persuade the Web-search giant to wire Baltimore with ultra-ultra high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure as part of its Google Fiber program. After a yearlong wait, Google selected Kansas City, KS, late last month, but, reportedly, Baltimore made a significant impression, and may yet be chosen in the future if the company continues the initiative. Undeterred, Loveland continues to champion the city as “a tinderbox of innovation.”

6. Rico Singleton (31), chief information officer, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology

Rico Singleton

This past January, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed an executive order instructing city agencies to make data sets under their control available via the Office of Information Technology’s website. Called OpenBaltimore, the initiative offers an instantly accessible /searchable/downloadable cache of information detailing property taxes, crime reports, flood-plain risks, maps galore (including one showing the locations of homicides), and a plethora of parking-related data. Previously, info-seekers faced a glacial-like wait after filing an official public request.

In a prepared statement, Rawlings-Blake said, “Innovative and creative people will now be able to collaborate with government, and hopefully find ways to improve service delivery and save money for taxpayers.”

Rico Singleton appointed the city’s chief information officer this past November after working as a deputy CIO in New York State’s tech office, led the OpenBaltimore project.

Two weeks after the program’s official announcement, more than 30 eager laptop-toters convened for a “hackathon” at the city’s Canton tech incubator to brainstorm potential useful applications for the raw information. Weeks later, the first one emerged: the website SpotAgent.com. Something of a backhanded compliment to the city’s data largesse, it allows users to determine a “threat rating” in Baltimore’s various neighborhoods for receiving a ticket for failing to feed a parking meter or running a red light/speeding in view of a pesky pole-mounted camera—all in an effort to avoid paying a fine, which, oddly, meets the mayor’s goal of “saving money for taxpayers.”

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