The confrontation over who should lobby for the biotech industry's interests in Annapolis and in the boardrooms of venture capitalists may be headed for a resolution.

In May, officials from MdBio Inc., an organization that promotes biotech firms in Maryland, announced that it was restructuring as a biotech trade group and that it was offering the Tech Council of Maryland $500,000 for its life-science members.

Tech Council officials viewed the move as a hostile takeover attempt and said, flatly, no thanks.

But shortly after, both sides agreed to try to negotiate a merger, just as they had been doing more than a year ago before talks abruptly broke down.

"Right now both sides are talking in earnest, and the discussions are going well," said Tech Council board member Edward M. Rudnic, who is also chief executive of Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp. in Germantown. "I'm an optimist. I would say that we have a better chance of completing this merger than we did last year."

MdBio officials are not actively recruiting members for the new organization. The group's president, C. Robert Eaton, would say only that the negotiations are continuing.

"There's nothing new to report right now," Eaton said.

But one sign that the talks are moving into an advanced stage is that both sides are discussing what tax structure would best suit a combined entity, Rudnic said.

Good Month for Grubb & Ellis

Grubb & Ellis Co., a leading provider of integrated real estate services, has had a somewhat busy month in Rockville. It has brokered leases on nearly 4,000 square feet of office space.

United Auto Credit Corp. leased 1,763 square feet at 1700 Research Blvd. from the Washington Investment Real Estate Investment Trust. And Viva Entertainment subleased 2,200 square feet at 164 Rollins Ave. from PMAS LLC.

Grubb & Ellis also brokered more than 30,000 more square feet of space in various parts of Virginia.

County Housing Fair on Oct. 1

The Department of Housing and Community Affairs is organizing the fifth annual county housing fair, on Oct. 1.

The fair has become a popular place for homeowners (and potential homeowners) to find information from housing providers, businesses and government agencies. Some of the topics to be discussed: credit scores, managing money, consumer scams, home improvements and identity theft.

Participants will be able to examine a free copy of their credit report with counselors.

The fair will start at 10 a.m. at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park, Summit Hall Farm, 506 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg. Representatives of businesses interested in sponsoring or exhibiting should contact Myriam Torrico at 240-777-3627.

A New Senior Vice President at Sodexho

Sodexho USA, the Gaithersburg provider of food and facility management services, has hired Edwin Negron-Carballo as senior vice president of finance for its school services divisions.

Negron was director of international finance and operations at Tyco Healthcare Group's Latin America division.

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