Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

September 20, 2006

Information session set on energy co-op

In response to the success of its first four cooperative energy-buying groups, the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce is holding an additional free information session on the cooperatives before bidding for its fifth group.

The chamber's first group, formed in May 2004, is projected to save some $2.2 million on electric bills over a three-year contract. The cooperative combines 330 accounts representing more than 10 megawatts of power consumption, according to a news release issued by the chamber.

The session will be held from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the chamber's offices, 312 Marshall Ave., Suite 104, Laurel.

The cooperatives are available to any entity -- businesses, homeowners' associations, nonprofit organizations, private schools, churches and synagogues and governmental entities -- that has a commercial electric or natural gas account.

Admission is free.

Information: 301-725-4000, or www.baltwashchamber.org.

Resources

Health care plan -- The Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are offering a limited health care plan to members. The plan, which does not require employer contributions or minimum employee participation, includes access to health care providers in Alliance PPO, a Mamsi/United Health company. Literature about the plan is available in Spanish. Shirley Redd, 301-725-4000.

Energy -- The Columbia-based Restaurant Association of Maryland is holding open enrollment for the Mid-Atlantic Aggregation Group Independent Consortium, an energy group of retailers and others, of which the association is a member. The consortium's goal is to offer power to commercial participants at a fixed rate that is lower than that of the local utility. The program offers long-term fixed pricing for up to five years, a price-reduction clause should energy rates decrease, the right to assign the contract should a business be sold, no historical-bandwidth usage requirement (the price is fixed) and elimination of additional charges in high-demand summer months. Paula Kreuzburg or Joe Gabriel, 800-874-1313.

Agriculture -- The Agricultural Marketing Program of the Howard County Economic Development Authority has released its 2006 edition of the Howard County Farms & Services Guide, a resource for consumers interested in buying directly from farmers or farmers' markets. Listings include icons for each farm that provide a quick view of the products offered, including produce, farm products, agri-tourism, educational experiences, horse stabling and others. Agricultural support agencies, farmers' markets, a harvest calendar and other features are included. The agricultural marketing program has distributed the guide to the Howard County tourism office, libraries, welcome center, the county extension office, the county agricultural preservation office and participating farms. To request a copy: 410-313-6500, or write to Ginger S. Myers, agriculture economic development specialist, Howard County Economic Development Authority, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 500, Columbia 21046.

Web -- The Howard County Economic Development Authority is offering a Web-based resource for assessing, developing and marketing new agricultural enterprises and specialty food-processing businesses: its Electronic Agriculture Resource Center. In addition to information on business planning and management, the site, at www.hceda.org, also offers information on local, state and federal regulations. and one-click access to county zoning and health-code regulation. Ginger Myers, 410-313- 6500.

Business Digest items may be sent to Fay Lande at fay.lande@baltsun.com or faxed to her attention at 410-715-2816.

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