News briefs: Pebblebrook, WeatherBug and Vitamin

Sun staffer’s new role

David B. Nitkin, a longtime reporter and editor at the Baltimore Sun, has been hired as Howard County’s director of policy and legislative affairs, effective in January, County Executive Ken Ulman announced. In other executive changes in county agencies, Ned Cheston, the county’s lobbyist in Annapolis, is being named acting cable administrator, replacing Lori Sherwood, who in January will work full-time on a new, $72 million federal grant program to create the Inter-County Broadband Network. Also, Ulman named John Byrd, who since May has been acting director of the county’s Recreation and Parks system, as the new director, effective immediately.

Funding for Pebblebrook

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust focused on luxury hotels in large urban and resort markets and coastal cities, said it closed a new $52.5 million secured loan with Goldman Sachs Commercial Mortgage Capital L.P. at a fixed annualized interest rate of 4.88 percent. The loan has a term of five years and is collateralized by the 422-room InterContinental Buckhead Hotel in Buckhead, Ga. Proceeds from the loan will be used to fund future acquisitions and other purposes.

WeatherBug’s Brazil tie

WeatherBug of Germantown, a provider of consumer and professional weather products and services, and operator of the largest weather observing and lightning network, said it has entered into a joint research and evaluation partnership with the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research. Under the agreement, WeatherBug and INPE will collaborate on research to test the performance of a network of 12 WeatherBug Lightning Sensors in Brazil. WeatherBug’s lightening network consists of advanced lightning sensors deployed in many countries worldwide, and the company is promoting wider use and validation of the technology.

Md.’s Russian outpost

Maryland has opened a trade office in Moscow, the first state to do so, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. An official of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development briefed a group of officials, business representatives and reporters about the new office, together with an official of the U.S. Embassy. To staff the office, the state hired a Russian businessman who will be paid on a contingency basis, that is, depending on how successful he is in finding Russian businesses to invest in Maryland, and vice versa.

More work for Vitamin

Vitamin, a Baltimore-based public relations, marketing and design firm, said it added three area architectural and engineering firms to its portfolio of clients. The firms are Gill-Simpson Inc. of Baltimore, Nika Architects + Engineers of Bethesda and Wiencek & Associates of Gaithersburg. For Gill-Simpson, Vitamin will work to boost the engineering firm’s image through messaging and development of a new website. For Nika, Vitamin will provide services to revamp its messaging and corporate identity, as well as develop collateral materials and a new website. And for Wiencek, an architectural firm, Vitamin is tasked with raising public awareness through messaging and copywriting services, as well as website development.