More guidance needed to help business investment in designated zones

Newly created Opportunity Zones have created an investor buzz in Baltimore and Maryland, but that excitement has obscured a stubborn reality: Final guidelines for the zones have yet to be released by the federal government. Until those rules are established, it’s not even clear yet what entities will be deemed qualified operating businesses. Guidelines providing direction on that, and other key items, remain at least months away. Once the regulations are complete, experts say, investors should have a clearer idea how to proceed. Some worries — such as that real estate projects will scoop up the majority of backing — should be quelled. (Daily Record)

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Subaru training center to come to Frederick tech park

The carmaker Subaru already has a presence in the city of Frederick, and the company will build a second training facility in a city technology park. Subaru of America, the U.S. branch of the Japanese-based Subaru Corp., is expected to open its 16,200-square-foot Automotive Performance and Training Facility in the Riverside Tech Park in late 2019, according to a release from St. John Properties, the tech park’s management. (News-Post)

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Maryland debates raising age to buy tobacco products

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy tobacco products. The current minimum age in Maryland is 18. Six states and the District of Columbia have already raised the purchase age to 21, and Virginia is on track to enact similar legislation. Jocelyn Collins, the government relations director for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, says the number of teenagers taking up smoking is on the increase. The latest figures, she says, show that 1,900 teenagers a year in Maryland become daily smokers. (WTOP)

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Closing time discussed at Liquor Board hearing, decision likely to come next year

County business owners, law enforcement and Catherine’s Cause spoke on the proposed measure to allow Carroll establishments to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. But the law will likely not go before the Maryland Legislature until next session. Currently, the bars, restaurants and taverns may stay open until 1 a.m. with a Carroll liquor license. The Board of License Commissioners, known informally as the Liquor Board, hosted a public hearing Feb. 13, bringing together about 15 stakeholders from the county. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Hunt Valley's first craft beer venue, B.C. Brewery, offers self-serve taps, family atmosphere

Rich Mak, of Parkton, had recently sold his cellular telephone company and was looking for the next step when his home-brewing club, Brewtherville Labs, met at a Bel Air brewery one night in April 2017. The place was packed on a Tuesday night, and he thought of the York Road corridor, with its much larger population. “Why is there no brewery over there?” Mak recalled thinking. “I came home that night and I don’t think I slept that whole night.” The next morning he told his wife, Sarah Mak, about his plan, and almost exactly one year later, in April 2018, the couple opened B.C. Brewery in Hunt Valley. (Balt. Sun)

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Away from Franchot's spotlight, Md. brewers quietly push for their own changes

For many, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has become the face of brewery reform in Annapolis — but this year, changes could come from other sources. The outspoken Democrat took a strong stand for the craft beer industry during last year's legislative session, pushing for a "Reform on Tap" package that would have eliminated caps on beer production, distribution and sales — and stepping on some state lawmakers' toes in the process. This time around, Franchot is battling legislation aimed at stripping away his office's power to regulate and enforce alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel laws. (Wash. Times)

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Amazon deal delivers ‘certainty’ for key transportation projects in Northern Virginia

Amazon’s pledge to bring thousands of jobs to Northern Virginia over the next decade has injected new life and urgency into several transportation projects long sought for the area, including a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station. The $90.8 million project is one of five key initiatives to get an infusion of state funding as part of Virginia’s deal with Amazon — a deal that officials and business leaders say helped accelerate the project to construction within the next five years. (Wash. Post)

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Northam announces selection of firms to build $3.3 billion tunnel project

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that Virginia has selected a contractor to build two new tunnels and widen a major highway in Hampton Roads. The $3.3 billion price tag — funded by regional gas and sales taxes, tolls and other sources — makes it one of the two biggest transportation projects in commonwealth history. Northam (D) touted the deal, saying he is “proud of the hard work and negotiations that have taken place over this past year,” and state Sen. Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) in return offered praise for the embattled governor. (Wash. Post)

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