Maryland dealer, under pressure from gun-rights activists, drops plan to sell smart gun

A Rockville gun store owner who said he would sell the nation’s first smart gun — even after a California gun store removed the weapon from its shelves to placate angry gun-rights activists — backed down late Thursday night after enduring a day of protests and death threats. Andy Raymond, the co-owner of Engage Armament, a store known for its custom assault rifles, had said earlier this week that offering the Armatix iP1 handgun was a “really tough decision” after what happened to the Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles. Oak Tree was lambasted by gun owners and National Rifle Association members who fear the new technology will be mandated and will encroach on Second Amendment rights. (Wash. Post)

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Hopkins workers plan march after negotiations stall

The labor union representing service workers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital are planning a march and media blitz to criticize the hospital's labor practices after contract negotiations ordered by a federal mediator broke down late Wednesday. The workers, members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union, plan to march in downtown Baltimore May 10. Next week, they will place commercials on Baltimore radio stations and advertisements in national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. It will also run advertisements in The Baltimore Sun. (Balt. Sun)

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Under Armour joins rival Nike in 'annihilating' competition, analyst says

It is a good time to be in the athletic apparel business -- especially if you are Under Armour or Nike. Sales of athletic wear have gone up along with the temperatures, about 8 percent over the last four weeks, Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser said in a report Thursday. But Baltimore-based Under Armour and Nike have far outpaced overall sales gains, leading the way with increases of 30 percent and 23 percent, respectively, Poser said, citing information from SportscanInfo. (Balt. Sun)

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For-profit company takes ownership of Citizens, Montevue operations

Frederick County officials today announced that a for-profit company has taken ownership of operations at the county's nursing and assisted living centers. The shift means that Aurora Health Management is assuming ownership of the finances for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. It also involves transitioning county employees at the centers to Aurora's payroll. (News-Post)

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Columbia man's air conditioner invention picked by Quirky

Perseverance can indeed pay off. Just ask Garthen Leslie. For years, the 60-year-old Columbia resident has been trying to sell his invention ideas: a skateboard with an odometer and a speedometer, a sensory-equipped life vest for toddlers, and more. He was selling them all, but nobody was buying.  Until last fall, that is, when his proposal for a "smart" window air conditioner won rave reviews from Quirky, a five-year-old New York City-based company whose stated mission is to "make invention accessible." (Balt. Sun)

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MacKenzie acquires RKS Realty, doubling its presence in the Harford-Cecil region

MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services LLC has acquired Harford County-based RKS Realty in a bid to expand the firm’s presence in Harford and Cecil counties. The acquisition means three key members of RKS — brokers Donnell “Beetle” Smith Jr., Thomas C. Mottley and Fred Kern — will join MacKenzie. The company said in a statement that 98 properties RKS represents will now fall under the MacKenzie brand, doubling its presence in office and retail in the Harford-Cecil region. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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State pension system renews lease, expands to 72,000 square feet at SunTrust building

The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System has renewed its lease at the SunTrust building at 120 E. Baltimore St. and will expand its footprint by 11,522 square feet. The total lease brings the agency’s office space to more than 72,000 square feet in the 326,000-square-foot Class A office tower. Cushman & Wakefield of Maryland Inc., which represents building landlord Franklin Street Properties, said there is 55,000 square feet vacant in the building. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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May 1 // Commission explores Md.’s real and perceived business climate

Maryland’s business and economic development climate suffers from poor perception rather than actual underperformance, according to state officials. Dominick Murray, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, Wednesday told the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission that the perception that Virginia is outperforming Maryland is incorrect. “The data will show that when people compare us to Virginia, we have a 17 percent growth rate,” Murray said, adding that the figure represents economic growth in Maryland over a four-year period ending this February, a rate he said exceeded that of Virginia’s. (Daily Record) 

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