Happening this week around Cecil County …

A Snowflake Hunt is on in Port Deposit, while in North East there’s a Plush Snowball Fight on the Green to join.

It’s all part of Cecil County businesses making shopping local fun and rewarding in conjunction with the Cecil County Tourism Winter Lights campaign.

Vicky Rinkerman, Port Deposit town administrator, said Lacey Heath, administrative assistant, organized the Snowflake Hunt on Main Street.

“She went to all the businesses and got gift cards,” Rinkerman said. Heath also procured 4-inch wooden snowflakes and numbered them. “She’s hiding 4 to 5 each week.”

Likening it to an Easter egg hunt, Rinkerman said the snowflakes are hidden on both sides of Main Street between Jefferson Hall Apartments and Oyster Shell Alley.

Cool Beans, Mildred & Co. and Granite Run Tap Room have cozy Winter Lights specials too.

North East is offering battle slots where you and your crew can sling the puffy snowballs for bragging rights and laughs. North East Chocolate Shop, Snatcher’s Creekside, Steak & Main, Woody’s Crab House, and Chesapeake Bay Coffee Company have a drool-worthy selection of specials.

But don’t leave until you’ve strolled Main Street and looked at all the snowmen, toured the Snow Garden at Port House Grill and had a lighted horse and carriage ride.

Chesapeake City has challenged its residents to decorate with white lights and is inviting everyone else to come stroll, see the lights and visit the town’s shops and restaurants. Bayard House, Cafe on the Bay, Chesapeake Inn, Prime 225, Rummer Lounge at Inn at the Canal and Schaefer’s all have Winter Lights themed items on the menu.

Similar to Port Deposit’s Snowflake Hunt, Elkton Chamber and Alliance has folks looking for arrows in the Stupid Cupid contest. Players must be 21 or older. The rules are simple: find at least 5 Cupid’s arrows at participating locations between Jan. 25 and Feb. 12 to be entered to win a romantic dinner for two. Winners will be announced Feb. 14.

Look for the golden arrows in Art Space on Main, Brookbend, C3ntral Tavern, Cecil County Arts Council, Elk River Brewing Company, Millstone Jewelers, Pastries by Penny, The Palette & The Page and Vlamis Liquors.

•••

The Roath Agency has moved and expanded its services under the new name of Roath Agency Investment Properties LLC.

“We’re the same people, same products, smaller location,” Matt Roath said of the move to a rental property at 5292 Pulaski Highway in Perryville to a property he now owns at 24 Blythedale Road. “It’s technically two addresses; 16 and 24 Blythedale.”

He’s looking for a tenant to rent the two-bedroom house at 16 Blythedale while he has moved his agency into one of the two offices at 24 Blythedale. Roath moved into the Route 40 location in 2018 with plans to use the spacious backyard as an event venue.

“That secondary business did not work out,” Roath said. “The lease was up at Route 40 ... so we purchased this property and we’re not spending as much.”

And thanks to the pandemic Roath realized he doesn’t need as much office space anyway since most business is now conducted online or over the phone.

“I’m still considering what to do with the garage back there,” he said of that second business space. “We could just use it for storage.”

Along with the same people, Roath Agency can still be reached at the same phone number: 443-206-7740.

•••

Youth Empowerment Source Coalition ended 2020 on an up note by winning a $625,000 grant from the Drug Free Communities Support Program, in collaboration with The White House Office of Drug Control Policy and the Centers for Disease Control. It was part of a $1.8 million package of federal funds with awards also going to Worcester and Somerset counties.

“It’s actually a five-year program,.” explained Beth Creek, YES executive director. “We’ll get $125,000 per year.”

The money will be concentrated in the North East area to address alcohol, tobacco and vaping. She pointed out that there are two high schools in that zip code; North East and Rising Sun. Creek said however, that there are coalitions working under YES across Cecil County.

“But we’re allowed to overlap the county with other jurisdictions,” Creek said.

A portion of the money will also support the Cecil County Liquor Board in its mission to stop tobacco and alcohol sales to underage people.

“It’s very exciting stuff,” Creek said. “This will allow us to leverage other resources.”

The challenge will be that the grant requires YES to spend the money first and then get reimbursed. Like everything else, the pandemic has affected non-profit fundraising.

“But we’ll figure it out,” Creek said.

•••

It didn’t take long for SunMed Growers to outgrow its facilities on Worsell Manor Road in Warwick.

What began as a 120,000-square foot operation growing, drying, processing and packaging medical cannabis has now tripled by adding another 250,000-square feet.

“We did this to meet the growing demand that is the Maryland medical cannabis market,” said Justin Garcia, compliance and public relations manager.

What began as the production of 200 pounds of dried cannabis per week is now a 600 pounds per week operation and a growing payroll as well.

“We had 50 employees before the expansion,” Garcia said. “Right now we’re racing to double that. We’re almost at 100 now.”

On site these employees mix the growing medium, fill large plastic pots and insert the young plants made from cuttings, also grown on site.

“We have the only Dutch-style greenhouse,” Garcia said of the sun-filled growing room that — through mostly natural and some artificial sunlight — keeps the plants growing almost around the clock.

At each step the rooms used for the process have doubled allowing for the larger output. From the greenhouse where the plants are monitored to assure good buds and no seeds, to the trimming, drying and curing the work is done at SunMed; and done by hand. That includes removal of the buds and packaging the finished product.

“We have a simple focus; just make the best flower,” Garcia said, adding the goal is continuity of care for patients. The plants go through rigorous testing to assure each batch is the same as the last.

Moving the large trays that hold the pots has automated assistance as does the rolling of the joints.

“We produce tens of thousands of pre-rolled joints,” Garcia said.

Jake Van Wingerden, whose Tidal Creek Growers owns SunMed Growers, said with Phase 2 just finished, he already has his eye on Phase 3.

“When we laid out this facility ... we knew the growth would be exponential,” Van Wingerden said. Fortunately he had the capital in place for Phase 2 before COVID struck.

“Construction was right in the middle of it,” he said. “It definitely caused delays.”

The new buildings grew right off the existing structures and caused little downtime for transition, Garcia said, pointing to lines on the floor showing where walls once stood.

SunMed, like many other agriculture operations, has composting built into its operations. The parts of the plant not cultivated for medicinal purposes or as cuttings to produce new plants are steamed and added to the compost pile along with the growing material.

“We sell that too,” Garcia said.

Their products, with names such as Sour Diesel, Purple Punch and ACDC can be found in dispensaries across Maryland.

“We make sure our product is in Cecil County,” he said.

•••

The storefront where Pet Valu once stood in the Rising Sun Towne Center will stay vacant awhile longer because it is not targeted by another chain for site acquisition.

A source at the Pet Supplies Plus corporate offices said the Livonia, Mich. based retailer was taking on 40 other PetValu locations once operated by PetValu.

PetValu announced in November it was closing all its US stores.

•••

A North East company is one of the recipients of Opportunity Zone grant funding through the Neighborhood BusinessWorks Microgrants program.

Clene Nanomedicine in the Principio Business Park got $50,000 to expand its operations. The pharmaceutical research firm was one of 13 awardees to share in $500,000 sum of grant money. Maryland received the funds through the federal program of the same name.

“The federal Opportunity Zone incentives provide Maryland with another tool to revitalize communities that really need help, and the new Opportunity Zone Microgrant creates another attractive incentive for business investment and job creation,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.

Opportunity Zones target economically distressed and under-served communities. Administered by the US Treasury, it offers federal capital gains tax incentives for investment in these zones. Maryland has 149 Opportunity Zones, of which three are in Cecil County; two in Elkton, including the downtown, and a third large swath of land that follows U.S. Route 40 west. That zone goes as far west as Principio Business Park, north to Interstate 95 and east to Charlestown.

Business Beat is a weekly column on business happenings in and around Cecil County. If interested in having your business featured in this column, contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007.

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