July 21, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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Recognizing Maryland’s Bright Lights

Peter Franchot
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June 27, 2017

In my travels across our great state, I have been fortunate to visit some of the great businesses that are headquartered in Maryland. We’re home to Fortune 500 companies like Lockheed Martin and Marriott International, and to global brands like JoS. A. Bank, STX and Under Armour.

Of course, these big, internationally known corporations are just part of the story. Maryland boasts thousands of groundbreaking manufacturers, thriving independent retailers, family-run farms, award-winning restaurants, and fast-growing breweries and wineries.

With a desire to recognize and promote some of these Maryland businesses that often don’t seek attention, my office this year launched the Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The award, which is being given to one business in each Maryland county and Baltimore City, celebrates enterprises and individuals that foster innovation in their fields. These recipients strengthen Maryland’s economy, generate jobs and tax revenue, and develop new ideas that more effectively deliver services and products within the marketplace.

Take, for example, United Therapeutics Corporation in Montgomery County, which develops cutting-edge drug products for patients with chronic and life-threatening cardiovascular and infectious diseases and cancer. Their work has saved lives and improved the quality of life for many others.

In Allegany County, Dr. Matthew Allaway, an urologist, found a safer, more accurate prostate biopsy method — and a new device to perform the procedure — that eliminates the risk of life-threatening infections.

Then there’s Motobriiz, a device created by motorcycle enthusiast Mike Steele of La Plata, which automatically lubricates a motorcycle chain using wind power without any electronics or connection to the motorcycle system. It’s environmentally friendly and saves consumers money in the long haul — what’s not to like?

A longtime manufacturer of outdoor site accessories like benches and bike racks, Victor Stanley Inc. in Calvert County has developed “smart” trash receptacles, which use sensors to monitor the fill level of a garbage can on a city street, college campus or private business. That information is relayed back to a city’s public works department or maintenance staff to determine the most efficient collection routes, saving money and keeping streets clean.

In the coming weeks, I’ll present the award to Ride Entertainment in Queen Anne’s County, which specializes in the construction and operation of amusement park attractions around the world. And here in Anne Arundel County, I’ll give the award to TRUsox, which developed a performance sock worn by world-class athletes, including FC Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our Baltimore City recipient, Spike Gjerde, who has helped transform the city’s culinary scene and is the first and only Baltimore recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award. I highly recommend one of his establishments: Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact Coffee, Parts & Labor, Bird in Hand, Grand Cru and the just-opened Sandlot.

These recipients demonstrate just a few of the great things happening in businesses across Maryland. I look forward to discovering more of these innovators and entrepreneurs and sharing their stories.


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