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Rockville earns perfect Municipal Equality Index score for seventh year

Traditional Pride Flag with the words 'Love is Love' hung from a City of Rockville tent

The Municipal Equality Index was designed by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to help residents learn how inclusive their city's laws and policies are of LGBTQ+ people.

Rockville, Md., Nov. 27, 2023 – Rockville has scored 100 marks for the city’s commitment to the health, welfare, safety and equality of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in its seventh year of participation in, and the 12th year for, the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.

Rockville scored 95 out of 100, plus an additional 10 bonus points, for its nondiscrimination laws, law enforcement, employment and workplace inclusivity, leadership and services to the LGBTQ+ community. Final scores cannot exceed 100.

“Cities and towns around the country are stepping up each and every day, finding new and innovative ways to empower LGBTQ+ people in the face of a dire national state of emergency,” Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson said in a statement accompanying the report.

The 12th annual MEI scorecard, released in November, analyzes and rates 506 municipalities across the country, measuring each for the inclusivity of laws, policies and services for their LGBTQ communities. Cities rated include the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups’ members and supporters.

Cities are rated across numerous criteria, covering citywide nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ equality.

Rockville’s MEI report can be found at www.hrc.org/resources/municipalities/rockville-md. Learn more about the MEI at www.hrc.org/resources/municipal-equality-index.

Press release link: https://rockvillereports.com/rockville-nets-another-perfect-mei-score/

The Washington Business Journal recently released its annual list of the Fastest-Growing Companies in Greater DC for 2023. The ranking is based on the average percent change in revenue from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022. To qualify, companies must be headquartered in the Washington area, privately held with no parent company, and have generated at least $2 million in revenue in 2020 and $10 million in 2022 with increases each year. Two Rockville-based companies have been included in the Journal’s 2023 list of 50 fastest-growing companies:

#19 – RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation

Industry: Chauffeured ground transportation provider

Year Founded: 1988

2022 Revenue: $74.9 million

Total Employees: 715

#20 – Presidential Exteriors

Industry: Residential remodeling and construction

Year Founded: 2015

2022 Revenue: $36.3 million

Total Employees: 188

Ripple Effect COO Dr. Jennifer Pohlhaus earns AWIS 2023 Zenith Award

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

Rockville, Md., Oct. 23, 2023 – Ripple Effect’s Co-owner and COO, Jennifer Pohlhaus, has been honored with AWIS’s 2023 Zenith Award. This award recognizes career professionals with a lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA).

Dr. Pohlhaus has paired her background in the sciences with her leadership role at Ripple Effect to shape a welcoming and forward-thinking corporate culture that prioritizes lifelong learning, embraces diversity as a key element of innovation, and weaves evidence-based thinking into Ripple Effect’s consulting services to offer employees the chance to do the best work of their careers in service of solving some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

AWIS is the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. AWIS strives to achieve the full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors. In addition to scholarships, AWIS provides career resources, professional development, as well as networking, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities to build leadership skills.

“Thank you AWIS!” said Jennifer Pohlhaus, “this award is particularly meaningful to me since it reflects my passion for supporting a diverse national workforce in STEMM and acknowledges my efforts to create an inclusive culture at Ripple Effect.”

About Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect is an award-winning, women-owned consulting company that works with federal, private, and non-profit clients to support policies and programs that shape our nation. From healthcare implementation to scientific research, Ripple’s ever-growing customer base includes NIH, HHS, CMS, CDC, HRSA, and DoD’s Navy, Air Force, and Army branches. With a focus on operational excellence, Ripple Effect has gained national recognition, including five consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 list and a 2022 Moxie award for boldness in business. To learn more, visit www.rippleeffect.com.

Link to press release https://rippleeffect.com/2023/10/ripple-effect-co-owner-coo-jennifer-pohlhaus-receives-national-zenith-award-from-the-association-for-women-in-science-awis/

Rockville biotech Emmes expands into Latin America with acquisition of VaxTRIALS

EmmesVax Trials

The acquisition adds greater vaccine research depth and a new Latin American base

Rockville, Md., Oct. 5, 2023 – Emmes, a global, full-service Clinical Research Organization (CRO) dedicated to supporting the advancement of public health and biopharmaceutical innovation, today announced the acquisition of VaxTRIALS. Headquartered in Panama City, Panama, VaxTRIALS’ 160+ staff members manage and monitor vaccine clinical trial activities throughout Latin America.

“Today’s clinical trials are both more complex and more global in nature than ever before,” said Emmes Executive Chairman Sastry Chilukuri. “Combining VaxTRIALS’ depth of expertise in Latin America and Emmes’ strengths, particularly in technology, biostatistics and data management, will give clients an unmatched partnership experience in conducting their clinical trials.”

“VaxTRIALS is a highly complementary match for Emmes,” elaborated Emmes Chief Executive Officer Peter Ronco. “It extends our global reach from our current base in North America, Europe and Asia to Latin America, one of the fastest-growing regions for clinical trials due to its large, diverse patient population and high-quality clinical research sites. VaxTRIALS adds a number of new biopharmaceutical and public-private partnership clients and further strengthens one of our largest research therapeutic areas: vaccines and infectious diseases.”

VaxTRIALS’ vaccine-related clinical trials have been conducted in 11 Latin American countries, as well as the Philippines.

VaxTRIALS’ staff members have supported clinical trials aimed at preventing diseases such as influenza, dengue, chikungunya, hepatitis A, meningitis, norovirus, herpes zoster, pertussis, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), polio and COVID-19.

“Another benefit for Emmes,” continued Ronco, “is that we’ll be able to take advantage of VaxTRIALS’ established network in Latin America to reach clinical trial participants in our other core therapeutic areas, including rare and pediatric diseases, cell and gene therapy, and ophthalmology.”

“Both our companies have built enduring customer relationships and a legacy of service in vaccine and infectious disease research,” said VaxTRIALS CEO Dr. José Jimeno. “I am proud that we have made both people and cultural development a priority, including hiring and developing employees who care deeply about making a difference in public health.

“I’m also excited to incorporate Emmes’ technology expertise, as well as legacy and depth in biostatistical analysis and data management, for the benefit of our clients throughout Latin America,” he added. “Emmes’ Advantage eClinical data management platform, with benefits including improving data quality, easing oversight of clinical trial operations, and reducing trial timelines and costs, can be extremely helpful to our customers.”

Chilukuri noted, “José Jimeno combines his background as a medical doctor with an extensive knowledge of the industry and the Latin American region and a stellar reputation in the global vaccine community. As VaxTRIALS’ founder and CEO, he has been an extremely active and energized leader. We are thrilled to welcome José and the VaxTRIALS team to Emmes.”

About Emmes

Founded in 1977, Emmes is a global, full-service Clinical Research Organization dedicated to excellence in supporting the advancement of public health and biopharmaceutical innovation. The company’s clients include numerous agencies and institutes of the U.S. federal government and a wide range of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies throughout the world. To learn more about how our research is making a positive impact on human health, go to the Emmes website at www.emmes.com.


A specialized Clinical Research Organization, VaxTRIALS provides innovative solutions in managing and monitoring vaccine clinical trial activities across Latin America. Founded in 2012, VaxTRIALS has built a reputation for helping clients, sponsors and vendors achieve extraordinary results in implementation of their studies. Learn more at https://www.vaxtrials.com/

Link to press release: https://emmes.com/content/emmes-acquires-vaxtrials

Governor Moore announces $10 million Build Our Future innovation infrastructure pilot program

The pilot program will provide matching grants of up to $2 million to projects that accelerate growth and innovation in strategic industry sectors

Baltimore, Md., Oct. 4, 2023Governor Wes Moore today announced the launch of the Build Our Future grant program, a financial resource for innovation infrastructure projects to support eligible technology sectors. Funded at $10 million, the pilot program will provide matching grants of up to $2 million to projects that demonstrate a transformative impact in accelerating growth and innovation in the state’s strategic industry sectors. 

“From cybersecurity and manufacturing, to quantum and drug discovery, we believe the Build Our Future pilot program will grow our innovative industries throughout the state,” said Gov. Moore. “While building a more competitive and equitable Maryland, we need to ensure we’re looking toward the jobs of the future and supporting the progressive technology sectors. This program will help us invest in the tech-advanced facilities that tomorrow’s workforce depends on.”

Administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce, the program was established through The Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act of 2023 during this year’s legislative session as a key piece of the governor’s plan to bridge the gap between vision and success in Maryland. Grants may be awarded to private companies, nonprofit entities, local governments, or colleges and universities in Maryland. Eligible projects include cyber ranges, prototype manufacturing centers, research spaces, sensitive compartmented information facilities, and wet laboratories, among others. 

“We’re proud to be leading the charge behind the state’s new Build Our Future program,” said Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kevin Anderson. “These grants will help some of our biggest innovators expand their efforts and keep doing what they do best: pioneer new ideas and products and grow Maryland’s impressive innovation ecosystem.”

Applicants must be in good standing with the state through the Department of Assessments and Taxation. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. Applications will be accepted starting October 16, with an informational webinar to be held October 19. 

Additional details including webinar registration and eligibility terms will be posted on the Commerce website.

Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation launches new business podcast Something to Talk About

MOCO Something to Talk About

The podcast will focus on Montgomery County business successes, community leaders, and economic growth

Rockville, Md., Sept. 25, 2023 – Montgomery County Economic Corporation (MCEDC) has just launched its new podcast, Something to Talk About (https://thinkmoco.com/podcast). Hosted by award-winning journalist Bob Levey and business leader Kelly Leonard, the podcast will feature top Montgomery County business leaders sharing their successes, advice for other businesses, county resources and reasons why thousands of businesses call Montgomery County home. 

Each guest will bring an interesting business perspective and offer ‘something to talk about’ for the community. The podcast is produced in collaboration with Montgomery Community Media (MCM), an MCEDC partner that provides strong community resources for content contributors, among its many offerings.  

In the first episode, MCEDC President & CEO Bill Tompkins sits down with the co-hosts to talk about the assets of the county, MCEDC’s support for growing businesses, and his own personal story.  

“I’m excited for our team to launch this podcast to help reinforce to the public that Montgomery County is a great place to do business,” Tompkins said. “Our podcast will bring special guests to the platform and help businesses gain insights to grow in our county.”  

Continue to check https://thinkmoco.com/podcast for future episodes of Something to Talk About. Coming soon, meet Jasmine White, MCM’s CEO, as she shares the many ways MCM can be a powerful tool to help businesses and individuals produce their own podcasts and provide other content distribution resources. Another upcoming interview is with Scott Copeland, President, CEO and owner of MoCo 360, formerly known as Bethesda Beat and Bethesda Magazine. He talks about the importance of local journalism for and about the community, and why his family was inspired to start a school for multi-sensory education.

The podcast is available directly on the MCEDC website (https://thinkmoco.com/podcast), through PodBean, as well as Google and Apple podcast sites, among other media outlets. Listen to an audio-only version here (https://somethingtotalkabout-mcedc-audio.podbean.com/) or bookmark the video version (https://somethingtotalkabout-mcedc.podbean.com/) to stay up-to-date.

MCEDC wants to hear from you. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast guest or general questions/comments, please reach out: podcast@thinkmoco.com.  

About Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) 

he Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) is the official public-private economic development organization representing Montgomery County, Maryland. Created in 2016, MCEDC is led by a Board of Directors of business executives. Its mission is to help businesses start, grow and relocate in Montgomery County by helping them gain access to top talent, business and market intelligence and prime locations. For more information, visit https://thinkmoco.com/

Sunflower Bakery shines in People magazine online article

Student dressed in chef uniform poses in front of wall with Sunflower Bakery sign
Photo credit: Sunflower Bakery

Sunflower Bakery's 5,600 sq. ft. facility in Rockville serves as a training facility and retail location

Sunflower Bakery’s facility in Rockville, Maryland, has been making waves not just in the community but also in the national spotlight. Sunflower Bakery was recently featured in People magazine online, highlighting the organization’s journey and impact they have on the community.

People magazine recognized the bakery’s unique approach to creating opportunities for individuals with learning differences. At the core of Sunflower Bakery’s success is their Pastry Arts program, a six-month intensive training program that equips students with valuable life skills and culinary expertise. They also offer a four-day program for high-school students to explore their culinary potential.

Founded by a group of dedicated women, Sunflower Bakery has been transforming lives for 15 years, working with almost 550 individuals across the Washington D.C metro area. Graduates of Sunflower Bakery’s program find employment in various settings, from bakeries to grocery stores and even amusement parks. The boost to self-confidence and development of life skills that graduates gain from the program carry with them into the world.

To read the full People magazine online feature, visit https://people.com/sunflower-bakery-trains-adults-learning-differences-jobs-7968766

About Sunflower Bakery

Sunflower Bakery is a 510 (c) (3) nonprofit, located at 5951 Halpine Road, Rockville, is dedicated to providing skilled job training and employment for adults 18+ with learning differences in pasty arts, production baking, barista service and front of house operations. Their Rockville location is also serves as a retail/pick-up location for their baked goods. Learn more at https://www.sunflowerbakery.org/



Federal Trade Commission allows Amgen’s $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics

The companies anticipate being able to close the acquisition in early Q4 2023

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. and DUBLIN, Sept. 1, 2023 – Amgen and Horizon Therapeutics plc announced the entry into a consent order agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that resolves the pending FTC administrative lawsuit. This clears the path to take the final steps to close Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon.

As a result of the consent order agreement, Amgen and Horizon expect that the parties will jointly file stipulated proposed orders to dismiss the preliminary injunction motion and dissolve the temporary restraining order (TRO) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and that Amgen and Horizon will quickly seek the final approvals required under Irish law to close the acquisition.

Amgen has consistently stated to the FTC, the courts and the public that it has no reason, ability or intention to bundle Horizon’s TEPEZZA® (teprotumumab-trbw) or KRYSTEXXA® (pegloticase injection) with any of its products. This narrow assurance, formalized in the consent order with the FTC, will have no impact on Amgen’s business.

The companies anticipate being able to close the acquisition in early fourth-quarter 2023 and look forward to the opportunity to serve patients around the world suffering from rare diseases.

About Horizon Therapeutics

Founded in 2008, Horizon Therapeutics is a focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of medicines that address critical needs for people impacted by rare, autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases. Horizon is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with global offices including one in Rockville, Md. Learn more at https://www.horizontherapeutics.com/

About Amgen

A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. Amgen is one of the 30 companies that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is part of the Nasdaq-100 index. Learn more about Amgen at https://www.amgen.com/


Link to press release: https://www.amgen.com/newsroom/press-releases/2023/09/amgen-and-horizon-therapeutics-plc-resolve-ftc-lawsuit-clearing-path-to-close-acquisition

15 Rockville companies included in the Inc. 5000 list for 2023

Companies on the 2023 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2019 to 2022.

Every year, Inc. reveals its Inc. 5000 list, showcasing the fastest-growing privately held companies across various industries. Companies on the 2023 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2019 to 2022. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2019. The minimum revenue required for 2019 is $100,000; the minimum for 2022 is $2 million.

Here are the Rockville-based companies have secured their place on the esteemed Inc. 5000 list for 2023 by order of rank:

#408: Axiom Consultants – Government Services

#1,029: Z Family Law – Legal

#1,689: Behavioral Framework – Health Services

#2,338: Presidential Exteriors – Construction

#2,761: Pioneer Power Group – Energy

#3,127: Transparent BPO – Business Products & Services

#3,351: Green Threads – Government Services Industry

#3,642: Audley Consulting Group – Government Services

#4,008: BETAH Associates – Government Services

#4,126: 495 Movers – Logistics & Transportation

#4,142: SysArc – IT Services

#4,301: DogiZone – Consumer Services

#4,507: fusionSpan – IT Services

#4,583: Columbia Technologies – Environmental Services

#4,973: TISTA Science & Technology Corporation – Technology/IT Industry


View the full Inc. 5000 list: https://www.inc.com/inc5000/2023


Montgomery College ranked a top 10 Best Community College in the US and first in the State of Maryland

Image credit: Montgomery College
Image credit: Montgomery College

Maryland has the 3rd-best community college system in the country, according to WalletHub's 2023 ranking

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 16, 2023 – Montgomery College (MC) has been named one of the ten-best community colleges nationwide by WalletHub in their 2023 ranking of community colleges, released this week. MC came in at #10 out of the nearly 700 ranked colleges. Montgomery College is also ranked as the best community college in Maryland, with Howard Community College second, 14th nationally. 

The state’s community college system earned a top ranking in the new WalletHub report, as well, with Maryland community colleges rated as the third-best system in the country, trailing only New Mexico and Connecticut. See the rankings by state system here

WalletHub analyzed data from 668 community colleges around the U.S. and ranked them based on 19 metrics, including tuition costs, availability of free community college education, transfer rates and student-loan defaults. All 668 schools are members of the American Association of Community Colleges. 

Community colleges play a large role in increasing educational attainment in their communities and provide affordable, accessible, quality educational opportunities for all, Wallethub stated in its report. 


About Montgomery College

Montgomery College is a public, fully accredited institution dedicated to student success and widely recognized for the quality and scope of its academic programs. MC has campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus training and community engagement centers, and off-site programs throughout the county. Learn more at https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/


Link to press release: https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/news/press-releases/2023-8-16-montgomery-college-ranked-a-top-10-best-community-college-in-the-us-and-first-in-the-state-of-maryland.html