Power lunch: Branches trimmed by utility crews are being turned into feed for Maryland Zoo animals

That munching sound you hear at the Maryland Zoo is the sound of giraffes, elephants, tortoises and other animals saving taxpayers big bucks. A new program has begun providing the zoo’s animals with branches that have been trimmed from healthy trees by electric utility crews. The vegetation — known as “browse” — is reducing the zoo’s feed costs by almost $2,000 a week, according to a BGE news release. The sight of workers in hard hats being hoisted skyward in baskets while they cut tree branches away from electric power lines has become increasingly common in Baltimore in recent years. (Balt. Sun)

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Ripken Baseball receives 'significant' minority investment from New York firm

Cal Ripken Jr.'s business enterprise has received what is being billed as a "significant" minority investment from a New York firm. LionTree Partners, the investment arm of LionTree LLC, took the undisclosed stake in Ripken Baseball. Ripken Baseball, founded by Cal and brother Bill in the early 2000s, has a major focus on youth sports, operating several baseball complexes across the U.S. The company plans to use the money for growth initiatives including expansion and new digital products. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Marriott-Starwood integration still rocky for some hotel owners

Owners of some legacy Starwood hotels are still feeling negative revenue impacts from the integration of Marriott International and Starwood nearly two years after the companies’ high-profile merger. Two Bethesda hotel real estate investment trusts, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and Diamondrock Hospitality Co., have become increasingly vocal about the impact the integration is having on some of their properties. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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August 7 // Former PIMCO co-CEO joins Under Armour board

Former Pacific Investment Management Co. co-CEO Mohamed A. El-Erian is joining the board of Under Armour Inc. El-Erian's appointment to Baltimore-based Under Armour's board is effective Oct. 1. He is currently the chief economic advisor at Allianz, the corporate parent of PIMCO. He was co-CEO and co-chief investment officer from 2007 to 2014. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Maryland farmers markets will continue accepting SNAP benefits through at least February

A series of stopgap measures will ensure Maryland farmers markets can continue accepting SNAP benefits for customers through at least February. Users of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and farmers across the country have been in limbo since the vendor whose software is used by some markets to charge SNAP cards announced it would cease supporting the program on July 31. A national nonprofit quickly stepped up and offered operational funding to the vendor, Novo Dia Group, for an additional month. (Balt. Sun)

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Pandora Americas hires former Target executive as new president

Pandora Americas, the Baltimore-based arm of the global charm and jewelry retailer, announced the appointment Monday of a former Target executive as its new president. Sid Keswani, who has been CEO of Fiesta Mart, a Texas-based grocery store chain, takes over as Pandora Americas president on Aug. 13. Before Fiesta Mart, Keswani spent 19 years at Target and also worked for Susser Holdings, a Texas-based convenience store chain. (Balt. Sun)

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Blue Ocean Realty in deal to buy DoubleTree hotel in Pikesville

Blue Ocean Realty is under contract to acquire the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pikesville, the fast-growing Baltimore real estate firm's entry into the hotel business. The 171-room hotel, located at 1726 Reisterstown Road, is currently owned and operated by the Pikesville Hotel Limited Partnership, a division of the Mangione Family Enterprises. Blue Ocean President Jonathan Ehrenfeld said the acquisition will also include the adjacent office, retail and tennis/fitness buildings. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Medical cannabis industry on the rise in Baltimore County, city and state

Beginning in 1998, Baltimore County resident Jim Dunnigan sang for years with a choral group of about 30 men. But four years ago, he would tremble so badly that he stopped performing publicly. He went to a neurologist who put him on three medications, which made him feel like a zombie. And then, his family physician, Dr. Vincent Wroblewski, recommended medical cannabis. After the sale of medical cannabis products got underway in Maryland in late 2017, the business experienced quick growth, aiming to help people like Dunnigan reclaim their lives from a slew of ailments, including chronic pain and seizures to post-traumatic stress disorder. (Balt. Sun)

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