Hispanic Business magazine found 32 of the nation's 500 largest Hispanic-owned businesses in Virginia, Maryland and the District.

The biggest local company in 2003, according to the magazine: Force 3 of Crofton, which designs and upgrades hospital computer systems, with $168 million in sales and 250 employees. The 13-year-old company ranked 28th, up from 29th in the 2002 ranking.

Despite an ailing economy for part of the past five years, revenue at these companies grew 40 percent to more than $26 billion in those five years, the magazine reported.

Second was Vienna's MVM , a security-management services company that employs more than 4,800, with sales of more than $164 million. It ranked 29th, up from 31st a year earlier. Dynaric in Virginia Beach was the next largest Hispanic-owned company in the area at 47th. It is an offset printer founded in 1973 with 400 employees and $112 million in annual sales. At 51st was Cube Corp. of Sterling, a construction engineering services firm with more than 1,300 employees and $104 million in revenue. It had been 48th.

Creative Associates International of Washington, a management and technical services consulting firm, moved up to 69th from 113th. It employs 200 people and had sales of almost $74 million.

Most of the companies on the list -- almost three-quarters -- were in service, manufacturing or construction, the magazine said.


Marriott International said the Adam's Mark Hotel in Houston has been reflagged as the Houston Marriott Westchase. The 600-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise and is owned by a partnership comprised of Pyramid Advisors and Morgan Stanley. The property will be managed by Boston's Pyramid Advisors.

Sunburst Hospitality of Silver Spring said it completed its long-term strategic disposition plan with the sale this month of the beach-front Comfort Inn in Miami Beach to a regional condominium developer. As a result, privately held Sunburst has reduced debt to $76 million, down from the $301 million that financed management's leveraged buy-out of the public company in January 2001.

Maple Financial Group, a Canadian financial services company that owns Europe's Maple Bank, acquired the remaining minority interest in Bethesda's Stone Street Financial and now owns 100 percent. Maple will change the name of the company, a specialty finance company focused on providing financial products for seniors, to Maple Life Financial.


MeriStar Hospitality, a hotel real estate investment trust, agreed to buy the Marriott Irvine hotel in California for $92.5 million, its second acquisition this year. Marriott International Inc. will run the 484-room hotel in Orange County. The acquisition is expected to boost Arlington-based MeriStar's earnings in 2004, the company said. MeriStar, which owns 78 U.S. hotels, will spend about $7 million in the next year to renovate the property. In May, MeriStar bought the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City hotel in Arlington for $93 million.

US Airways filed an application with the Transportation Department to begin code sharing with Bahamasair, the flag carrier of the Bahamas, later this summer. The Arlington-based airline's proposed agreement encompasses reciprocal frequent flyer program benefits and code sharing on 48 daily flights between the United States and the Bahamas, as well as intra-Bahamian flights.

Virginia Commerce Bancorp of Arlington announced a 5-for-4 stock split in the form of a 25 percent dividend, payable July 15 to shareholders of record June 15.

Columbia Bancorp, parent of Columbia-based Columbia Bank, will reactivate its stock repurchase program, approved by the board in 2000. The program provides for the repurchase of as many as 500,000 common shares in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. Shares repurchased under the program so far total 114,646. At this time, the company intends to buy back about 20,000 shares.

LinkSpot Networks of Reston, provider of wireless Internet access at RV parks and campgrounds, said it secured $1.3 million in funding led by Meritage Private Equity Funds, Builder Investment Group and Transaction Network Services. New investors also participated, including Mike Gurevich, owner of Cherry Hill Park in College Park.


Carlyle Group hired three executives to make real estate investments in Asia, with a focus on Japan. The Washington investment firm hired Rio Minami as a managing director and Satoru Hayashi as a vice president from Starwood Capital Japan to work in Tokyo, while Derek Lai, formerly of Deutsche Bank, was hired as an associate in Hong Kong.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.

Charito Kruvant heads Creative Associates, the 69th-largest Hispanic-owned firm in the United States.