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Week in review – 6/22/12: Ships set sale in city

Ships set sale in city

As the nearly 40 tall ships and naval vessels that filled Baltimore’s harbor for the last week departed earlier this week, area businesses continued to have something to celebrate: a boost to their bottom lines. With about 1 million visitors drawn to see the ships and a Blue Angels air show, business picked up noticeably for merchants and others around the harbor and other nearby parts of the city.

No consensus from gambling panel

After nearly six hours of closed-door negotiations, efforts to reach a consensus on expanding gambling in Maryland collapsed when members of the House of Delegates balked at lowering the tax rate on slot machines at state casinos. The staunch opposition from the three delegates on the 11-member work group impaneled to develop a consensus on the thorny political issue jeopardized the possibility of a special session of the General Assembly next month.

Towson Town unveils five ‘luxury’ stores

The owners of Towson Town Center unveiled five new stores amid optimism that retail sales figures are increasing there and shoppers are starting to open their pocketbooks once again. Charles P. Crerand, Towson Town Center’s senior general manager and an executive with mall owner General Growth Properties Inc., led a group of media and curious onlookers through the mall’s second floor “luxury” wing to unveil locations of the new stores: Lilly Pulitzer, Marbles: the Brain Store, Sur la Table, L’Occitane and a relocated and expanded White House/Black Market.

Rocky Gap slots deal approved

After years of delay stemming from a lack of interested and quality bidders, a group that will build a slots parlor at the debt-ridden Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort was approved by the Board of Public Works. Evitts Resort LLC will build a 50,000-square-foot, 850-slot facility that could open by mid-2013 at the remote lodge in Allegany County’s Rocky Gap State Park. The slots parlor will ultimately be expanded to 1,000 machines.

UnitedHealthcare to hire 335

UnitedHealthcare said it expects to hire 335 employees in the Baltimore area in 2012 after its recent acquisition of XLHealth, a Baltimore-based provider of Medicare Advantage health plans. The new jobs will support UnitedHealthcare’s expansion of XLHealth’s chronic care management capabilities. The added positions will be split between UnitedHealthcare’s existing offices in Baltimore and a new location in Elkridge.

Senator: Lockheed must cut costs of F-35

The Pentagon and Congress should press Lockheed Martin Corp. to reduce soaring costs of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said. The F-35 contract awarded to Lockheed in 2001 called for three variants of an affordable stealth fighter for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, its total cost is estimated at $395.7 billion, a 70 percent increase from a 2001 estimate equal to $233 billion in current dollars, according to the latest Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report.

Marriott expects 100 hotels in China

Marriott International Inc., of Bethesda, the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said it is on track to have 4,000 hotels in 90 countries across its 14-brand lodging portfolio by 2014. Marriott also said it expects to have more than 100 hotels across nine brands and nearly 40 markets in China by 2014.

Economic Alliance, BioHealth team up

The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore has signed on to a partnership that officials hope will accelerate commercialization of the region’s biotechnology industry. The alliance, a nonprofit economic development organization serving Baltimore and its six surrounding counties, will be the area’s primary business partner with BioHealth Innovation Inc. The economic alliance’s responsibilities include securing and administering grant money for central Maryland biotech projects and overseeing regional marketing efforts for the organization.

PG casino boosters run radio ads

Advocates for a National Harbor casino are trying to drum up support in the Baltimore area by using an expensive radio advertising campaign that touts the casino as a job creator for out-of-work Marylanders. The Washington, D.C. Building Trades Council – in conjunction with Baltimore public relations firm Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs LLC – is behind the ads, which claim the casino could create 5,700 “permanent union jobs” and about 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

Park Plaza restaurants not returning

Nearly 18 months after a fire gutted the historic Park Plaza building in Mount Vernon, workers are putting the finishing touches on a $6 million renovation — sans three of the structure’s culinary tenants. Connie Caplan, owner of the building and chairman of The Time Group, said that restaurants My Thai, Donna’s and Indigma would not be returning to the 45,000-square-foot Park Plaza when it formally reopens this summer.