Sears chairman plans for smaller stores, predicts company will go public

Edward Lampert bets he can take Sears public again with a plan for smaller stores and less apparel. The chairman of the Oak Brook, Illinois-based retailer wants to sell or sublease a portion of its 425 remaining stores, according to The Wall Street Journal. Following the company's bankruptcy proceedings, Lampert also plans to launch smaller Sears stores, akin to the one in Oak Brook, which is 62,000 square feet. (Wash. Bus. Journal)

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Prince George's County pitches its HQ2 site to Amazon — again

Prince George's County didn't make the cut last year with its proposal to win Amazon.com Inc.'s second headquarters. But now that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) may be reconsidering its HQ2 plans in New York due to extensive opposition, the county has reached out to the online giant once again. David Iannucci, president and CEO of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., told me county officials reached out to Amazon, via email, on Friday to convey that the county "stands ready to reengage conversations should there be issues with either the Virginia or New York location." (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Baltimore Businesses Cash In On Valentine’s Day

As the hours tick down to grab a gift for that special someone, local businesses are cashing in on this holiday. Clearly, the holiday of love is well-loved by small businesses around Baltimore. For florists and candy shops, this holiday brings in more customers than any other. “Roses are the biggest thing,” said Paul Raimondi, of Raimondi’s Florist. Flowers reign on Valentine’s Day, but chocolates do too. “So, it’s fresh flowers and roses and chocolates. A lot of chocolates and balloons are going out with arrangements also,” Raimondi said. (WJZ-TV)

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Airbnbs are here. The Annapolis City Council wants to tax them.

A study presented to the Anne Arundel County Council Tuesday identified $1.9 million in potential untapped revenue from untaxed, unregistered short-term vacation rental properties. Short-term vacation rentals properties, popularized by booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, have popped up across Anne Arundel County, with no zip-code more heavily hit than downtown Annapolis. There are about 502 active rentals — which had a booking in each of two consecutive months — in Annapolis and 295 other Anne Arundel County cities, according to a new study. Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County commissioned the study to take stock of the short-term rental market in the county. (Capital)

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BWI roundtable asks for state legislation action to combat impact of low flying planes

Representatives from the BWI Roundtable asked state lawmakers Wednesday to file legislation addressing issues related to new flight patterns at BWI Thurgood Marshall airport. Since 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration has faced local and state opposition because of a new air-traffic control system, NextGen, that was hailed as a way to modernize flight patterns and save billions in fuel. Critics, however, say low, new flight patterns negatively impact day-to-day life and that NextGen has exacerbated noise in neighborhoods including Hanover, Columbia and Elkridge that are now under the new BWI flight paths. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Opportunity zone bill would promote, reward transparent investing

Opportunity zone investors would get extra state incentives if they make their identities and investment details public, under a bill proposed in the General Assembly. The legislation was crafted to reward transparency as the federal opportunity zone program begins a rollout this year, said state Sen. Bill Ferguson, its sponsor. Other incentives would be granted for community engagement, jobs and hiring goals and the creation of community benefits agreements. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Jealous Launching Baltimore-Based Investment Firm

Former gubernatorial hopeful Benjamin T. Jealous is launching a new investment firm that focuses on social impact. Called 20X, it will be based in Baltimore, the city where he worked during his years at the venture capital company Kapor Capital, which he left last week. “The idea is that social impact investing is twenty times more powerful than philanthropy when it’s done well,” Jealous told Maryland Matters on Tuesday, “because you’re putting all your capital toward the goal of actually improving the world.” (Md. Matters)

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Proposal to raze Martick's restaurant property in downtown Baltimore is tabled by preservation commission

Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation voted to table a request to raze the former Martick’s Restaurant Francais property in the 200 block of W. Mulberry St. in downtown Baltimore for another month until it gets more information on the proposal. Commissioners said they wanted more time to review engineering plans and determine whether the building could benefit from adaptive reuse. A developer, Park Avenue Partners, had requested permission to tear down the former restaurant and tavern and replace it with an apartment structure. (Balt. Sun)

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