Sunday
Jan012012

gobs of blogs and happy new year, hoco-ers

gobs of blogs 

Kings Contrivance Community Association
KCVCCP
Columbia MD

Szelhamos Rules
Clarksville MD
@TheAcsMan

Howard County Conservative
Elkridge MD

On the Road with U2
Ellicott City MD
@MemphisMullen

Deena's Days
Ellicott City MD
@MemphisMullen

bakkich!
Columbia MD
@bakkichblog

AnnieRie Unplugged
Dayton MD
@annieriedora

Mary Gardella
Your Life Is Art
Savage MD
@marygardella

The Running Mom
Fulton MD
@Thismomruns

Mom+Me, Gluten Free
Fulton MD

Live From AREA 49
Columbia MD
@area49sports

Frank Hecker
Ellicott City MD USA
@hecker

Ellicott City Pharmacy
Ellicott City MD
@EllicottCityRx

misszippy1
Ellicott City MD
@misszippy1

Village Green/Town Squared
Columbia MD
@macsmom

Ozoni11...The Photography of Michael Oberman
Columbia MD
@ozoni

NuViewTalmud
Columbia MD USA

Taste of Torah
Columbia MD

Marotte Leather
Elkridge MD

Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy
Columbia MD
@qechtweets

HoCoPoLitSo
Columbia MD
@hocopolitso

Well and Wise

Columbia MD

Ms. Couponista
Ellicott City MD
@mscouponista

Cayne Zimmerman Photography
Ellicott City MD
@cayne

 

Sunday
Sep252011

What Co-Working Can do for Howard County

There are places you can go to work in Howard County. You can haunt coffee shops, claim tables at sandwich shops and generally pay for the pleasure of working somewhere that you don’t have to put down money for a long-term lease. There are a few better options if you’re talking about a business that’s bigger than just you, like some office parks that have space available on a part-time basis.

But the number of freelancers, consultants, telecommuters and solopreneurs in Howard County is growing. And we need practical places to work.

Co-working May Be the Answer
I have personal bias towards creating a co-working space — an office space that allows individuals to come in for a day, a month or on the schedule they need to follow. A co-working space (particularly one with a conference room) precisely meets my needs and would let me grow my business, in a way that options like a straight up business incubator wouldn’t. I need a place to work and meet with clients, at a rate that is reasonable for a small service-oriented business.

Co-working has become a logical solution in cities (both Baltimore and D.C. have great co-working spaces), because there’s an individual or organization that takes point on finding an maintaining a space — and that point person is almost always in the same position as other people who work in the space. Co-working spaces are almost always built by the people who need them, who absolutely understand their own needs.

As a for instance: many of the places I’ve looked at locally for even part-time office space make a point of offering telephone lines and long-distance calls as an amenity. I have to laugh every time I see that. Every consultant and freelancer I know (including the older ones) rely heavily on a cell phone. That’s not an amenity we need, and adding it in to justify a higher cost guarantees that I’ll keep shopping around.

Why in Howard County?
There’s an absolutely simple reason: small businesses are growing right here and the more resources that we can provide them, the more jobs and money they’ll eventually create.

But there is something deeper at play here. The U.S. economy is changing as we watch. Small, nimble companies are the future — startups that have quick exits, consultants who can come in on an as-needed basis, serial entrepreneurs who can build a profitable enterprise with contractors.

Sure, Howard County as a whole should continue to do what we can to attract big companies. But there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit if we can make the area attractive to the professionals who will otherwise feel that they have to work in either Baltimore or D.C. to get access to the resources they need (like co-working spaces).

Wednesday
Aug242011

The Creative Class of Howard County

I read a lot about economics, about business and about creativity. I read books like Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class the way some people devoured Harry Potter books. I also try to pay close attention to the things that are going on in my area: if things are going good, after all, running a business in the area tends to be easier.

The result is that I keep staring at numbers and reports on Howard County. The demographics of the area, the concerns that we face and the opportunities we can create fascinate me.

And there are plenty of opportunities that we can create. Howard County has a unique position: We’re within easy driving distance of not one, but two large cities. Historically, this has lead to the communities within Howard County acting as support systems for both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But it also means that Howard County can take advantage of access to these two cities to create local industries that can blossom like never before.

What Does Silicon Valley Have that We Don’t?

While it’s easy to describe Silicon Valley as part of San Francisco, it essentially started out in the suburbs — easily thirty minutes or more away from San Francisco proper. Silicon Valley had lots of big companies and universities geared towards technology and engineering. The local tech community just kept growing.

The situation here in Howard County isn’t — or doesn’t have to be — so different. We have an incredible technology presence already in the area (Fort Meade and supporting contractors, anyone?) along with demographics that include tech-savvy individuals happy to work for the government or large corporations in the short term, but ready to branch out on their own in the long term.

With a little more support for a local start-up scene, there are opportunities to homegrow some incredible technologies right here.

The Creative Class of Howard County

We can talk about far more than just technology, too. In his books, Richard Florida postulates that cities and areas with high numbers of creatives — from artists to musicians to software developers — are more likely to have economic growth. The creative professionals who keep industries in Washington D.C. and Baltimore going already look to Howard County as an option for living outside of the big city. That offers a basis for encouraging creatives to look at the area for business and job opportunities, too.

We’ve already got a lot of what we need in place. The biggest step Howard County needs to take is for each of us to envision the area as the type of place that builds and grows businesses — not a suburb that exists to support nearby cities.

Thursday
Jul282011

A massive gob of bloggers 

It's been a while since I've posted the bloggers who've submitted their sites to hocoblogs. Here's a gob of bloggers you can get to know. 



Szelhamos Rules
Clarksville MD
@TheAcsMan

Howard County Conservative
Elkridge MD

A Kat’s Life
Columbia MD

bakkich!
Columbia MD
@bakkichblog

Your Life Is Art
Savage MD
@marygardella

The Running Mom
Fulton MD USA
@Thismomruns

Anna Elliott Photography
Fulton MD U
@kgoldscher

La Casa de Sweets
Ellicott City MD
@LaCasaDeSweets

Live From AREA 49
Columbia MD
@area49sports

Eye Love Dazzle
Laurel MD
@jazzynickel

Viaggiatory: The View From Abroad
Scaggsville/Laurel MD

CSI Homebrew Club
Elkridge MD

Mark's Food World
Ellicott City MD

Ozoni11...The Photography of Michael Oberman
Columbia MD
@ozoni

Images and More
Hickory Ridge, Columbia, MD

NuViewTalmud
Columbia MD

Taste of Torah
Columbia MD

Downtown Columbia, MD
Columbia MD
@columbiamdtweet

Well and Wise
Columbia MD

To Thine Own Self be True
Ellicott City MD
@mesogreen

Cayne Zimmerman Photography
Ellicott City MD
@cayne

Wednesday
Jun152011

Hoco blogger hired as new ED of ACShoco 

press release from @ACShoco. Duane is the blogger at Hoco Connect. Congratulations, Duane!

Duane St. Clair Selected as New ACS Executive Director

Duane St. Clair has been named to the position of Association of Community Services' (ACS) Executive Director. He will take over the reins of the 48 year old human services advocacy organization of 120 nonprofit, government, business and faith-based organizations and community advocates following the retirement of Anne Towne, who served as Executive Director for ten years. On behalf of the ACS Board of Directors, President Harry Schwarz announced the appointment, commenting that St. Clair "brings to ACS not only exemplary experience in the public and private sectors at the local, regional and national levels, but also a long-term and proven commitment to human service issues and the Howard County community.

                "In one respect," he continued, "Duane will be coming home as he served as an ACS committee member and treasurer in the early 1990s."

                Set to begin at ACS on July 5, St. Clair said, "For the past 7 years I have mostly been involved in Baltimore, the State of Maryland and nationally. About a year ago I decided to return to a focus on Howard County with my program development, networking and community organizing activities.  With the wealth of community resources that we have in Howard County I look forward to identifying new opportunities to facilitate and advance the work of our human services community. "

                Howard County resident St. Clair brings to ACS a diversity of professional experience including 26 years of service at the Howard County Office of Aging. Highlights of his career at the Office of Aging included involvement with the development of senior centers in East Columbia, Elkridge, Savage and Glenwood and partnering with community organizations and advocates to develop the Emmanuel Group Home program for the elderly, a reduced fee dental program, the 60+ wills program for seniors and the Coalition of Geriatric Services (COGS).

                A self-avowed community organizer, St. Clair received his Masters of Social Work from the University of Maryland, concentrating in planning and community organization.  Since leaving government service in 2004, St. Clair has led several community service efforts.  He worked with the Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Howard County's Office of Children's Services to develop services for grandparents raising grandchildren.  He also partnered in the development of Communities of Care of Maryland, a nonprofit organization that initiated Maryland's first affordable intergenerational housing.  He also has worked in the areas of Alzheimer's, youth development and leadership, and emergency human services.

                As an adoptive parent of two foster children, St. Clair's most diligent community service work has been in support of services for this population. He is a long-term member and officer of the National Foster Care Association Board of Directors, serving as the organization's representative to the American Academy of Pediatrics committee that developed AAP’s Health y Foster Care America program. Fostering Futures is his most recent undertaking in association with a group of other concerned citizens partnering with Howard County VOICES for Children, the local Court Appointed Special Advocates program, to identify and organize a community network of resources for older youth in foster care in Howard County.

                St. Clair resides in Columbia with his wife Janis. In 2010, he started HoCoConnect, a blog for Howard Countians to network and partner with each other to address community issues or needs.  Also within the realm of social media, St. Clair organized and initially moderated the Columbia Freecycle, an online recycling program that has recycled over 150,000 items within its membership of 4600. His other local community activities include volunteering as a Neighbor Ride driver and recently joining the Board of the Friends of the Howard County Library.

                Beginning July 5, he can be reached at ACS: duane.stclair@acshoco.org, 410-715-9545.