Here are 6 Md. business leaders to watch for 2017

What lies ahead for 2017 seems to be the unanswered question everyone has been asking since the election last month. When The Daily Record staff selected six business leaders to watch for 2017, there was none of that uncertainty. The leaders that our editors and reporters thought of bring years of experience, long track records and projects that are poised to move the state forward. In fact, the only mystery about their work is how much they will achieve in the next 12 months.

Here’s why you should be keeping an eye on these six leaders:

Rushern Baker

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III has made turning around the jurisdiction’s reputation as a difficult place to do business a top priority of his administration, and he expects to continue to reap the rewards of those efforts during the final two years in this office.

The county is currently vying to be the new home for the FBI headquarters with the federal government set to choose between two sites in Prince George’s County and one in Springfield, Virginia sometime next year.

Rushern Baker

Rushern Baker

Other major projects in the county include the MGM National Harbor opening in December, the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center set to open on Route 1 and Berman Enterprises working on a $165 million transit-oriented development at The New Carrollton Metro Station, for which the county provided $2.25 million from the $50 million EDI Fund Baker’s administration created.

“We went from almost no projects going on in Prince George’s County when we came in to about ($8 billion) worth of development all along every part of Prince George’s County, and that’s not including if we get the FBI,” Baker said.

The county is also moving ahead with other projects, such as the Downtown Largo Center which is a go because of plans to replace the Prince George’s Hospital Center with the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center.

Before leaving office, Baker also wants work begin on the proposed redevelopment of downtown Suitland, where in a unique arrangement with the Redevelopment Authority, the Revenue Authority and the county will act as the project’s master developer.

Baker credits much of the turnaround to ethics reforms his administration pushed through the County Council, streamlining the county’s permitting process and seeking out and listening to what businesses said they needed from his administration.

“The sky’s the limit, we get the FBI here, which I think we’re going to get, then I think Prince George’s County is what I said at the very beginning of our administration, that is we’re the economic engine for the Washington region and for the state of Maryland,” Baker said. “I think we become the hub where there’s growth and job creation.”

Victoria W. Bayless

In her 11 years at the Anne Arundel Medical Center, Victoria W. Bayless has advanced steadily from one high-level job to the next. She started in 2005 as vice president of clinical support services, was promoted in 2006 to chief operating officer and promoted again in 2009 to president and COO. In 2011, she was named CEO, her current position.

The Annapolis-based AAMC, which includes a 380-bed, not-for-profit hospital, a medical group and outpatient centers in Bowie, Kent Island, Odenton and Waugh Chapel, has risen steadily as well. During Bayless’ tenure, it has become the third busiest hospital in Maryland.

Victoria Bayless

Victoria Bayless

When she took over as CEO, Bayless said AAMC has “spent the last decade laying the foundation for a new kind of health system.” She promised the center would continue to grow and “move beyond the walls of the hospital and develop a system of care to help people be as healthy as possible.”

She is the chief architect of the health system’s 10-year plan, known as “Vision 2020: Living Healthier Together,” to make that happen.

“Vision 2020 directs us to improve how we help people manage chronic conditions, and to focus far more on prevention and wellness,” Bayless has said. “The future of healthcare means greater partnerships, collaboration and accountability.”

The plan focuses on a combination of individual care, affordable care and community care. The last, for example, will involve more partnerships with caregivers and community groups outside the hospital. She also expanded the hospital’s core values of compassion, trust, dedication, quality and innovation by adding two more that will shape its growth: diversity and collaboration.

Howard Brown

Howard Brown, chairman of David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd., is recognized as a pioneer in pursuing transit-oriented development in Maryland, and his firm has several projects in the pipeline shaping the area’s built environment.

Brown’s company continues to work on the build out of Metro Centre at Owings Mills, one of the most ambitious transit-oriented development projects in the state. The company is transforming the area immediately surrounding the last station on the subway line, which connects with the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, into a massive mixed-use development Brown hopes will become the preeminent town center in Baltimore County.

Howard Brown

Howard Brown

When Metro Centre at Owings Mills is complete, it will include 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space, 1,700 residential units, 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 225-room hotel.

“You see less and less developments in suburbia, you see less and less office parks in suburbia, and I think that the connection to the metro, or any form of public transportation, is really where the future is going to be,” Brown said.

Brown used development in Washington, D.C., and its nearby suburbs, as examples of transit attracting investment. He said suburban jurisdictions are reaching their limits for extending infrastructure and that an aging population is going to be attracted to a more convenient urban lifestyle.

“We’re doing an urban development in a suburban county. But it reads like downtown Baltimore, it reads like New York or Washington D.C. and that’s where the market is going,” Brown said.

In addition to the work at Metro Centre, David S. Brown Enterprises is also involved in prominent development projects in Baltimore. The most visible of those projects is the overhaul of the former Morris A. Mechanic Theatre site. The company plans on transforming it into a mixed-use development with a 31-story tower with 450 residential units and more than 150,000 square feet of retail space.

In the 300 block of West Baltimore Street Brown also plans to build a 32-story apartment building with 300 apartments and with nine levels of public parking.

In any transit-oriented development – whether it’s in Atlanta, Washington or Baltimore – “the value of the property goes up and transportation is what’s driving it,” Brown said.

Robert L. Caret

When he took over as chancellor of the University System of Maryland on July 1, 2015, Robert L. Caret had big shoes to fill.

His immediate predecessor, William E. Kirwan, had run the 12-institution system for a dozen years and won praise for upgrading the system and making it more affordable and diverse. The system’s Board of Regents was so pleased it gave Kirwan a $500,000 bonus when he left.

Robert Caret

Robert Caret

But Caret had a couple of advantages. He was familiar with higher education in Maryland, having spent 25 years at Towson University, including eight as president. Also, he was no stranger to running a complex education system either, having spent four years as president of the University of Massachusetts System immediately before taking over at USM.

Caret came to the Maryland job with a reputation for working to make college affordable and academically outstanding. When he was hired, he announced he had two primary goals: to make sure students get a quality education and to shape the universities as a “research-based economic engine” for Maryland.

A few months after he took over, Caret embarked on a four-day, 900-mile listening tour of the state, meeting with alumni, business executives, community leaders and government officials.

His purpose, he said during his inauguration address, “was to hear firsthand where people want to go as a state, what they need from us to get there, and to let them know that the University System of Maryland was there to help and was determined to make a difference.”

This year, he presented the Board of Regents with his five major goals: Increasing student college completion rates; ensuring Maryland’s competitiveness in the new economy by increasing the number of STEM graduates and creating companies and research centers; redesigning courses to make better use of technological and other changes; boosting stewardship by streamlining operations and boosting fundraising; and, attracting and supporting top-quality students and faculty.

He’s already making good on one promise: In September, University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore officials announced the launch of a new academy that will combine many of the existing resources of the two schools to focus on terrorism and counter-terrorism studies. The academy, they hope, will be one more incentive to bring the FBI headquarters to Greenbelt.

Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill calls herself an “accidental engineer.” She never imagined being in the industry until she took a college course that sparked her interest. Today, she’s the vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Cyber, Ships & Advanced Technologies (CSAT) line of business and is keen on getting more young people interested in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) fields. She sees getting young people involved in science early as the key to building the “Silicon Valley” for cyber technology in Maryland.

Hill joined Lockheed Martin in 1987 as a software engineer and has held a variety of roles at the company, including vice president and general manager positions for different parts of the company’s business.

Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill

In her current position, Hill oversees the strategy and execution of all CSAT programs, which includes the Littoral Combat Ship program; Coast Guard systems; fixed wing mission systems; unmanned aerial systems; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; cyber solutions; electronic products; information technology services for U.S. and international postal services; lasers and sensor systems; and vertical launch platforms.

In March, Lockheed Martin reopened a production line at its Middle River facility as part of a $235.3 million contract with the U.S. Navy in which Lockheed will be manufacturing an MK 41 Vertical Launching System – a missile launcher. The facility is used for deck and hatch production, a part of the manufacturing process that has not been done that facility for more than 20 years.

Among Lockheed’s role in Maryland’s business community, Hill points to its involvement in STEM education.

“We make a big impact in all levels of public school whether it’s elementary, middle and university and college,” Hill said, adding that she sees the state’s universities as the key to making Maryland the base for technology and cyber innovation, pointing to bwtech@UMBC Research Park as a prime example.

“You’ve got all of these great higher universities who are working on specifically in tech and many in cyber,” she said.

As chairwoman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, Hill and the committee has been focused on economic development and job creation in the region and partnering with government and other community leaders, she said.

“I am really pleased with the amount of activity and focused activity I’ve seen in Maryland come together,” she said.

Arne Sorenson

It’s been a big year for Arne Sorenson and Marriott, with the Bethesda hotel giant becoming the largest hotelier in the world and announcing that it’s building a $600 million headquarters to maintain its presence in Montgomery County.

In September, the Bethesda-based hotel giant completed the $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, a company with 6,000 properties among 30 brands around the world

Arne Sorenson

Arne Sorenson

In total, 30 hotel brands now fall under the Marriott umbrella from Marriott, Courtyard and Ritz Carlton to Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis. The company has 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries, which translates to 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms in the world.

“We’ve got an ability to offer just that much more choice. A choice in locations, a choice in the kind of hotel, a choice in the amount a customer needs to spend,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told The Associated Press after the acquisition was finalized in September.

Marriott’s quest to purchase Starwood had a dramatic start as the company was drawn into a bidding war with Anbang Insurance Group Co. The Chinese company eventually backed out.

Sorenson also joined President Barack Obama in his trip to Cuba this year, in line with Marriott’s interest in opening hotels and offering hospitality training on the island. In March, the Department of Treasury approved Marriott’s application, allowing the company to do business there.

As Marriott expands, the company is receiving a $70 incentive package to stay in Maryland and build a new headquarters in downtown Bethesda. Sorenson described this as a “significant economic driver for the community.”

“Marriott has been headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland, for more than 60 years and we intend to remain close to our roots. Our goal is to provide a cutting-edge workspace for our associates that offers state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities, and access to a range of transportation options.” Sorenson said in a statement.

Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996 and became the company’s first CEO without the Marriott surname. He was the company’s president and chief operation officer before assuming that role. Sorenson has also been executive vice president, chief financial officer and president of continental European lodging. He was elected to Marriott’s Board of Directors in 2011.

Adam Bednar is a reporter for The Daily Record who covers real estate. Anamika Roy is a reporter for The Daily Record who writes about small business and banking. Pete Pichaske is a frequent contributor who writes about law and business.


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