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Business Spotlight: BETAH Associates, Inc.

Michelle Taylor - President and CEO, BETAH Associates, Inc.

BETAH Associates is celebrating 35 years of award-winning communications and professional services to government, corporate and nonprofit clients

What services does BETAH Associates, Inc. offer?

BETAH Associates is an award-winning communications and professional services firm with a 35-year record of success providing exceptional client experiences to government clients, as well as those in the private and nonprofit sectors. Our core competencies are communications and creative services, event management (for in-person, virtual, and hybrid gatherings), training and technical assistance, peer review services, and other kinds of professional support. BETAH combines decades of expertise as strategists and implementors to bring a solutions-driven approach that helps our clients achieve their missions, reach their audiences, and create stories and experiences that inform and inspire.

What is BETAH Associates’ origin story?

My journey to business ownership is different from the typical path. I’m not the original founder, and leading BETAH Associates is not a role I was groomed or prepared for. In fact, I never envisioned a role in government contracting – it wasn’t in my life plan. My background is in television and film production. I wanted to use my skills and creativity to raise awareness and to educate and affect change in communities. My mother, the founder and original CEO of BETAH, was a dynamic force in business with a stellar reputation with staff, partners, and clients. She was the previous leader and the leader I admired most. I worked in the company as a communications director and watched her wheel and deal with the best of them yet move with immense grace and integrity. Early on, she and I agreed that I would not take over the business. I enjoyed the creative role I held and had no desire to run a government contracting firm.

When my mother passed away after a long-fought battle with cancer, I felt compelled to keep the doors open – I believed in the business, mission, vision, and the clients and communities we impacted. So, I accepted the challenge and stepped into my mother’s position – a post I’ve been delighted to hold for 15 years as I developed my vision and shepherded the company through a period of healthy growth.

What makes BETAH Associates unique?

Our name says a lot about our business: BETAH means “trust and confidence,” which we build and maintain through client experiences that truly surpass expectations. We are proud to be a minority and woman-owned small business that has been twice-recognized on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies in the nation. GrowthLab ranked BETAH #18 out of 100 of the top marketing communications firms in government contracting, based on FY2022 data for prime, unclassified contracts awarded across all US federal agencies. 

Our team is solutions-minded, inventive, passionate, and accountable — and we believe in doing well by doing good. Our values are based on what we call “The BETAH WAY,” which drives employee engagement and productivity. The BETAH WAY sparks creativity, curiosity, and completion of a well-done job. We are consistent and committed to being the best at what we do: Persevering with gratitude and uncompromising integrity, treating everyone with dignity and professionalism, and meeting challenges with compassion and wisdom. Great people make our company great, resulting in low turnover and high job satisfaction — a rarity among firms today. We take on an unpredictable tomorrow with the clarity of purpose and bravery of heart, knowing that confidence is in our name – We rise!

Why is Rockville, Maryland BETAH Associates’ headquarters?

Ours is a virtual business structure with employees located throughout Maryland, Virginia, DC, and other remote locations throughout the country. We chose Rockville as our headquarters because of its convenience, affordability, and proximity to many of our clients and partners located in Maryland and the nation’s capital. I’ve lived in Montgomery County for over 40 years and consider Rockville to be a vibrant center for business, entertainment, and families. We’re proud to be part of the Rockville community.

What’s next for BETAH Associates?

This fall [2023], BETAH marks our 35th anniversary! We’re looking forward to celebrating with partners, clients, and friends. I’m also excited that we’ll be debuting an updated branded identity for the business – showcasing that we will grow and excel by transforming communications to meet our clients’ needs and the constituents they serve for our next 35 years. As a leading communications and professional services firm, we will continue to build our strong foundation in government contracting and serve even more corporate and nonprofit clients who want to transform their communications and deliver significant social change.

About BETAH Associates, Inc.

BETAH is a certified small, women-and-minority owned business headquartered at 199 E. Montgomery Avenue, Suite 100, Rockville, MD. Founded in 1988, BETAH Associates provides communications and creative services, event management, training and technical assistance, peer review services, and more. Learn more at www.betah.com

Business Spotlight: Èkó House

Francis Odiase (left) and Yomi Ajao (right) - Co-owners of Eko House

"Èkó House goes beyond being just a location you eat in to become a hub. A hub for music, entertainment, connections, beauty, art and inspiration."

What does Èkó House offer?

We are a Nigerian restaurant in the DMV, that offers authentic Nigerian food, as well as an array of Nigerian/American fusion meals. With a seating capacity of 250, we’re able to host large events and large groups of people (of 15 or more parties). We cater to events including wedding after parties,
pre-wedding parties, bridal showers, birthday parties, office get togethers, retreats, and private events.

What motivated you to start your business?

My business partner and I have lived in the United States for almost three decades. We noticed a gap in the availability of a combination of authentic Nigerian meals, visually appealing presentations and aesthetically pleasing environments. What we had become accustomed to was that brands that offered authentic Nigerian foods were either lacking in aesthetics and presentation or had a somewhat higher focus on the fusion selections in a way that sort of compromised on the authenticity of Nigerian tastes.

Even though we did not have a problem with prioritizing the fusion selections, we just desperately craved an environment that reminded us of home, not just in the food offerings but also in the feel of the environment. We craved an environment that mimicked the warmth and buzzing of Lagos, the vibe, the excitement and the feeling of community all in one, so we decided to bring that feeling here, to the United States of America. Through Èkó House, our aim is to bridge that gap, to introduce our culture to people in the DMV through our food, music, and expressions of art. We want them to see and fall in love with the “Naija spirit”. We want to give them a first-hand experience of all the best things of Nigeria.


What makes Èkó House unique?

Èkó House goes beyond being just a location you eat in to become a hub. A hub for music, entertainment, connections, beauty, art and inspiration. A hub for all things that celebrate life, love and community. We want everyone who walks into Èkó House to feel the love that Nigerians as a people have to give. We want people to walk into our establishment and be filled with peace and joy, those feelings of comfort and familiarity associated with their homes.

Why did you choose to run your business in Rockville?

My business partner and I have lived and been coming to Rockville for a few years now and we’ve been drawn to how community inclined it is.

The first thing you notice when you visit Rockville is how family friendly it is, with a healthy blend of young and middle-aged people. We noticed the variety of food brands around and could not help but feel like there was something missing. We finally determined what was missing, and that’s when we got the idea to establish a Nigerian brand here. We knew that was the flavor the community was missing. Starting Èkó House, we are bringing an additional variety to the collection of amazing restaurants in Rockville.

Where do you see Èkó House 5 years from now?

As a new business, we’re happy to say that we’re doing very well. Since our grand opening in July 2022, we’ve had an interesting few months. We’ve experimented, failed at some things, learned and grown. In the next 5 years, we hope to learn even more. We may be thinking about expanding into new territories soon. Plans are still underway.


About Èkó House

Èkó House opened in July 2022 at 150 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD 20850 in Rockville Town Square. Learn more about Èkó House at www.ekohousedmv.com

Business Spotlight: ACB Precision Focus Photography

Marcia and Paul Cole, owners of ACB Precision Focus Photography

"We believe in creating images that tell a story, make a lasting impact, and create memories that last a lifetime"

What does ACB Precision Focus Photography offer?

ACB Precision Focus Photography is a multimedia agency and studio. We offer photography and videography services to individuals, couples, families, and corporations.

What motivated you to start your business?

Building a legacy and generational wealth motivated us to start ACB. Our company’s name was inspired by our three children: Amaya, Charles and Bryce.  We strive to lead the way showing our future generations anything is possible with hard work, dedication, believe in yourself and use the talents you naturally have.

What makes ACB Precision Focus Photography unique?

It would have to be us. We make our business unique be we strive to provide the same high-quality service to all our clients regardless of how big or small the job. We want to make the client feel at ease and have 100% confidence we will exceed their expectations. We believe in adding so much value to our clients that our price becomes irrelevant in comparison.

We strive to give every client an enjoyable experience while creating beautiful, captivating images that serves their needs.  We believe in creating images that tell a story, make a lasting impact and create memories that last a lifetime.

Why did you choose to run your business in Rockville?

Montgomery County is our home, it’s where we started our family and continue to raise our children. Rockville provided us with the opportunity to open our first studio location.

Where do you see ACB Precision Focus Photography 5 years from now?

We envision expansion and the ability to provide jobs in our community. In 5 years, ACB will be a preferred vendor in the DMV photography and videography services.  We will open our second studio. We will have a team of associate photographers and videographers. ACB will be running a mentorship program helping young men and women enter the photography world and eventually run their own business.

About ACB Precision Focus Photography

Founded in 2020, ACB Precision Focus Photography is located at 15209 Frederick Road, Suite 209, Rockville, MD 20850. Learn more about ACB Precision Focus Photography at www.acbprecisionfocus.com

Rockville Ranks Among Best Small Cities for Retirement

Rockville ranks #40 in SmartAsset’s top 50 small cities for retirement

Article orginally published by SmartAsset on October, 19 2021

A study conducted by HigherAHelper found that retirees are twice more likely to move to a new state than all other movers, and more than a quarter of retirees who moved in 2020 chose to leave larger cities and metropolitan areas.

To uncover the best small cities for retirement, SmartAsset analyzed 247 places (with poulations between 65,000 to 100,000 residents) across eight metrics:

  • Percentage of population above the age of 65
  • Housing costs as a percentage of retirement income
  • Estimated tax burden for seniors
  • Number of retirement communities
  • Number of medical centers
  • Violent crime rate
  • Property crime rate
  • Unemployment rate

For the full list and SmartAsset’s data and methodology, please visit: https://smartasset.com/data-studies/best-small-cities-for-retirement-2021





Placemaking in Action: Rock East District

Rock East District gathers Rockville's artists, professionals, makers and tradespeople in one place

What is Rock East District?

Rock East District is a placemaking project led by Rockville Economic Development, Inc. to highlight the unique businesses, services and recreation assets of East Gude Drive in Rockville, MD. Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach that utilized local community’s assets and potential with the intention of creating spaces that promote the vitality of the people and businesses. Rock East District is also a pilot project to promote local tourism and provide support and recognition to small businesses recovering from the pandemic.

The East Gude Drive area at Rockville’s northeastern city limit has always been a distinctive commercial district of small manufacturers and makers like breweries, distilleries, home improvement and auto repair stores. The area is also home to a collection of multi-ethnic restaurants and unique retailers. However, the area lacked a recognizable ‘feel’ and culture, or sense of connected community. The businesses and assets of East Gude Drive presented an opportunity to engage in community revitalization and the enhancement of community life though the collaborative development of a community identity that visually and functionally markets itself as a distinct and lively area of Rockville.

How did Rock East District project come together?

Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) saw led a series of stakeholder meetings to create and implement the Rock East District brand. Partners included government and non-profit entities such as the City of Rockville, Rockville Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, and Visit Montgomery. Collaboration among these agencies allowed for the City’s official designation of Rock East District, the placement of branded banners identifying Rock East District as a distinct commercial area, and the creation of a tourism-oriented website: www.rockeastdistrict.com. ( Update: Rock East District information and business directory are now part of the Explore Rockville tourism website: https://explorerockville.org/district_page/rock-east-district/ ). In particular, this effort led to REDI’s collaboration with Visit Montgomery to develop a targeted tourism development and marketing program for Rockville.

Additionally, REDI worked with community groups including the Montgomery County Road Runners Club, Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Recreational Athletics Sports League to highlight outdoor and recreational assets and activities unique to Rock East District. These groups went on to create guided tours for runners and bikers to discover and experience Rock East District.

Finally, REDI collaborated with the businesses of East Gude Drive, ensuring inclusion in the planning and execution of the Rock East District brand. Partnership with the businesses was key to generating support and participation in the project. The businesses worked with REDI to create of a series of launch events at multiple locations across Rock East District. Businesses like True Respite Brewing Company and the Bean Bag Deli & Catering Company supported the promotion of Rock East District by creating special edition Rock East District branded products that were included in the Rock East District package that was distributed to media and commercial brokers.

Rock East Banners
Rock East Beer

How can I support Rock East District?

Check out the Rock East District webpage: https://explorerockville.org/district_page/rock-east-district/ and plan a visit!

Follow Rock East District’s social media, and share your stories about your time in Rock East District:

If you’re a business located in Rock East District (map here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1TlULngSECFB-JhyTUAL0sxq0IXyc4oxf&usp=sharing), we’d love to include you on the Rock East District website! Send us an email with your business information

Three Rockville Businesses Listed Among 75 Fastest-growing Greater Washington Companies

Graphic source: Washington Business Journal

Washington Business Journal's annual list of Fastest Growing Companies ranks businesses' growth by average percentage change in revenue

#7 - Apex Home Loans, Inc.

Apex Home Loans, Inc. is a lending institution focused on providing mortgages that meet the financial goals of its clients. Apex Home Loans is headquartered in Rockville, MD and has multiple locations across Maryland, as well as Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

#20 - Bravium Consulting, Inc.

Bravium Consulting, Inc. is a management and technology consulting firm headquartered in Rockville, MD. Bravium was established in 2010, and specializes in Enterprise Service Management, Application Development and Project Management Office.

#56 - Presidential Exteriors

Presidential Exteriors is a Rockville-based building-exterior remodeling company licensed to operate in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. Presidential Exteriors holds GAF Master Elite Certification, a nationally recognized assurance of high quality work and service.

24 Rockville Schools Among Best for Grades K-8

Rockville elementary and middle schools were included U.S. News' inaugural list ranking more than 80,000 U.S. schools

Article originally published by Rockville Patch on October 12, 2021

ROCKVILLE, MD — Elementary and middle schools in Rockville have been ranked among the best in Maryland, according to a brand-new ranking released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report.

For the inaugural list, U.S. News published rankings and data on more than 80,000 public elementary and middle schools across the United States. Schools are ranked at the state and district levels. The best charter schools and best magnet schools ranked as stand-alone categories.

U.S. News ranked Robert Frost Middle School as the highest in the state among schools in Rockville, according to the new list. Robert Frost Middle School was ranked fourth among middle schools in the state. Here’s a look at how elementary schools in Rockville ranked compared with others in the state:

39: Lakewood Elementary
51: Fallsmead Elementary
60: Farmland Elementary
72: Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary
80: Ritchie Park Elementary
113: Candlewood Elementary
146: Cashell Elementary
167: Bayard Rustin Elementary
182: Maryvale Elementary
183: Flower Valley Elementary
196: Mill Creek Towne Elementary
228: Wheaton Woods Elementary
247: Beall Elementary
254: Rock Creek Valley Elementary
283: Brookhaven Elementary
374: College Gardens Elementary
484: Meadow Hall Elementary
634: Twinbrook Elementary

Here’s a look at how middle schools in Rockville ranked compared with others in the state:

4: Robert Frost Middle School
29: Tilden Middle School
34: Julius West Middle
95: Parkland Middle
98: Redland Middle
127: Earle B. Wood Middle

To determine the rankings, U.S. News used data from the U.S. Department of Education to analyze two areas at each school:

  • Math and reading proficiency — or how well students perform on state assessments.
  • Math and reading performance — or how well they perform compared with expectations.

The state assessment data used in the rankings is from the 2018-19 school year and, therefore, predates any effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on test-taking.

Schools were also ranked within their district. Here’s how elementary schools in Montgomery County Public Schools measured up:

1. Bannockburn Elementary
2. Cold Spring Elementary
3. Wayside Elementary
4. Travilah Elementary
5. Potomac Elementary

Here are the top five middle schools in Montgomery County:

1. Thomas W. Pyle Middle School
2. Herbert Hoover Middle
3. Robert Frost Middle School
4. Cabin John Middle School
5. North Bethesda Middle

Nationally, California has 5,534 ranked elementary schools — the most of any state — followed by Texas at 4,446; New York at 2,211; Florida at 2,128; and Illinois at 2,038 schools.

California also has the most ranked middle schools with 2,319, followed by Texas at 1,942; Illinois at 1,243; New York at 1,219; and Florida at 997.

See the complete list of 2021’s Best K-8 Schools.

Source: https://patch.com/maryland/rockville/24-rockville-schools-among-best-grades-k-8-u-s-news



Rockville-based Supernus to acquire Adamas Pharmaceuticals

Supernus' acquistion brings a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug to its portfolio of Parkinson's disease treatments

Article Originally Published by Rockville Nights on October 12, 2021

Rockville-based Supernus Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that it is acquiring Adamas Pharmaceuticals, adding to its portfolio of Parkinson’s disease treatments. The deal will bring Adamas’ GOCOVRI (amantadine) extended release capsules, the first and only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for the treatment of both OFF and dyskinesia in patients with Parkinson’s disease who are receiving levodopa-based therapy; and Osmolex ER® (amantadine) extended release tablets, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and drug-induced extrapyramidal reactions in adults.

The deal is a financial win for Adamas stockholders, and will expand the revenue base and cash flow of Supernus. “This acquisition represents a significant step to further build a strong and diverse Parkinson’s disease portfolio, and aligns with our focus of acquiring value-enhancing, clinically-differentiated medicines to treat CNS diseases,” Jack Khattar, President and CEO of Supernus Pharmaceuticals said in a statement. “We have a proven track record of strong commercial execution, and look forward to building on GOCOVRI’s growth momentum so that more patients can benefit from access to Adamas’ innovative neurological therapies.”

Once again, biotech – along with residential housing construction – remain the only bright spots in an otherwise moribund and stagnant Montgomery County economy. This is largely because the smart decisions that led to the growth of Montgomery’s biotech sector were made before those who wrecked the County’s economy took office in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Supernus is located at 9715 Key West Avenue in Rockville.

Source: http://www.rockvillenights.com/2021/10/rockville-based-supernus-to-acquire.html


Emmes President and CEO named among Washington Business Journal’s 2021 ‘Women Who Mean Business’

Congratulations to Christine Dingivan, President and CEO of Emmes!
Emmes is a global full service clinical research organization (CRO) dedicated to supporting the advancement of public health and biopharmaceutical innovation. Emmes serves on REDI’s Board of Directors as Vice Chair.

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 11, 2021 — Christine Dingivan, President and CEO of Rockville-based clinical research organization Emmes, was recognized among the Washington Business Journal’s 2021 ‘Women Who Mean Business’ award recipients.

Dingivan joined Emmes in September 2020 at the height of the industry’s response to Covid-19. Emmes was a key contributor to the data and statistical analysis work for Moderna’s Covid vaccine trials and the National Institute of Health’s evaulation of Covid-19 treatments. Under Dingivan’s leadership, Emmes grew, expanding its network internationally and increasing its employees by 200 in 2021.

The 2021 Washington Business Journal ‘Women Who Mean Business’ honored 25 women at an awards banquet on Thursday, October 7 at the Ritz Carlton in Washington D.C.  Each year women from various industries and professions across the Washington D.C. region who have made a difference in their communities, blazed a trail for others and are leaving an indelible mark on business in the region are selected from a public pool of nominations and determined by a panel of judges made up of program alumni.

Read Christine Dingivan’s Washington Business Journal ‘Women Who Mean Business’ profile here: Women Who Mean Business 2021 – Christine Dingivan

Maryland Department of Labor 2021 Employer Incentive Plan

The Maryland Apprenticeship Training Program (MATP) administered by the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $3,260,957 to increase business participation in Registered Apprenticeship by creating the 2021 Maryland Employer Incentive Plan (EIP) initiative.

The EIP is a rolling reimbursement program, where employers receive repayment for a portion of the costs of On-the-Job Learning (OJL). All apprentices served through the EIP must be newly registered apprentices and must meet the criteria for Registered Apprentices. Learn more about Registered Apprenticeship Program here: 2020-2023 State Apprenticeship Expansion Grant

EIP Eligibility Requirements

The following entities are able to apply:

  • Employers who sign up to participate in an existing Group Joint or Group Non-Joint Registered Apprenticeship
  • Employers who register a new Registered Apprenticeship program
  • Sponsors and/or employers who reactivate a currently inactive Registered Apprenticeship
  • Sponsors and/or employers who register apprentices after implementation of the EIP

Employers can be private, public, or non-profit as long as they are a Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor or a signatory, or participating employer with a Group Joint or Group Non-Joint Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor approved by Maryland Department of Labor.

Reimbursement Requirements

Employers that partipate in the EIP are eligible for reimbursement for a portion of the costs of OJL. The breakdown for reimbursement amounts is as follows:

  • Businesses with 50+ employees (large employers) are eligible for reimbursement of 50% of the wage rate of apprentices for a maximum of 30 hours per week; or
  • Businesses with 49 or fewer employees (small employers) are eligible for reimbursement of 75% of the wage rate of apprenctices for a maximum of 30 hours per week

Maryland Department of Labor calculates reimbursement based on the first 13 weeks of actual employment not to exceed $3,120 per apprentice for large employers and $4,680 per apprentice for small employers.

  • For more information on the Maryland Apprenticeship Training Program (MATP) , please click the following link: MATP
  • For questions about MATP and EIP, please contact David Minges, Program Manager, MATP