susan steward


As Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War, “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” In other words, perhaps a low-key approach is better to begin than an extremely head-on one. Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign is an example of the latter. Was Howard Schultz’s idea of “Race Together” bad in and of itself, or was it the execution of the idea? Starbucks has been practicing “conscious capitalism,” for years with campaigns such as employee benefit programs and job creation campaigns. So, what is this idea of “conscious capitalism” and how does this campaign seem different?

Let’s start with the campaign: Was it the idea or the execution that was flawed? One could easily say both. Twitter is bound to find any potential flaws in corporate logic, so companies must practice what they preach. This week posted an article highlighting the lack of diversity statistics on Starbucks’ corporate website. Starbucks’ lack of transparency with company diversity left consumers feeling uneasy about Starbucks’ motives for “Race Together.” From a strategic standpoint, how could “Race Together” go right? Let’s examine some of Starbucks’ previous tactics and how they could foster the organic growth of “Race Together.”


RaceTogether1_bottom_3Starbucks provided free insertions about “Race Together” in USA Today to promote conversations. Why do most of us talk about anything at any time? Because we read about it somewhere! Good debates need material, so providing individuals with the tools to promote discussions is a great execution strategy. Corporations can come together to help bring about social change. The partnership with USA Today promotes the idea without the need for corporate branding. Why not also look to brands with other big corporate names with locations where people congregate and access to research materials is plentiful, such as Barnes and Noble?


Corporations can let the media pick up what they are doing without being too overt. For example, Starbucks is part of Fair Trade USA. So is Dunkin Donuts, but neither company is using their coffee cups to advertise the fact. Instead, Starbucks takes a subtler approach with in-store posters to promote the initiative. A company practicing something it believes in shouldn’t make it feel forced, but let the conversation flow naturally. Through this natural progress, a company can achieve the initial goals without alienating customers.


So, what is conscious capitalism?

The Harvard Business Review summed it up best in 2013: “‘Conscious Capitalism’ is a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world.” How did Starbucks’ campaign seem different? The overt method by which Starbucks initially promoted “Race Together” failed to achieve the objective. As The Economist pointed out, Americans felt Starbucks was doing it “for its own economic gain.” For years, Starbucks has been doing things in the name of conscious capitalism, but hadn’t heralded their efforts so publicly. Promotion and social change can be a delicate balance, but it’s not unobtainable. Other brands have managed to combine these objectives—for example, Dove and its “Real Beauty” campaign. Perhaps Starbucks could take the lessons learned by Dove’s and other companies’ more overt campaigns as examples for how “Race Together” could have been more successful. In other words, Mr. Schultz—great idea but poor execution.



As the nation enters its 68th month of recovery with falling gas prices, falling deficits, rising job numbers, a recovering real estate sector, and a booming stock market, some may ask what happened to Maryland. While many—myself included—have proclaimed that Maryland’s economy can be described as “Eds, Beds, Meds and Feds,” this characterization exemplifies the problems facing Maryland going forward.


Our job growth has been in the bottom third of the nation recently, and while our real estate market did not suffer the plunges into the abyss as experienced by the sand states (AZ, CA, GA, FL, and GA), our foreclosure rates are among the highest in the nation. Most notably, Prince George’s County is still struggling to recover. Maryland’s dependency on the federal government applies to not only its labor force, of which an estimated 5 percent are employed by the federal government and an additional 10 percent are indirectly supported by the federal government, but also numerous installations and agencies located in Maryland. So, when the federal government cut back spending, Maryland felt the effects across many sectors in the local economy.


Reducing Maryland’s Dependency on the Federal Government

Recently, the Augustine Commission released a series of recommendation, and one of the more prominent recommendations was to reduce Maryland’s dependency on the federal government. While that is easier said than done as this dependency not only impacts our labor force, but the federal government is the primary customer (in some cases the only customer) for many Maryland-based businesses. Moreover, many businesses do not realize that their services and products may have nonfederal uses domestically as well as internationally. Two recent announcements by the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) and Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic development (DBED) will provide assistance in diversifying Maryland’s economy, and RESI will play a role in both.

GBC logo DBED logo

Joining an Economic Development Network

Baltimore, through the efforts of the GBC, was selected to join an economic development network created by the Global Cities Initiative, a five-year joint program of the Brookings Institute and JP Morgan Chase. This initiative is focused on assisting business and civic leaders with growing their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. According to some projections, nearly 80 percent of global GDP growth between 2013 and 2018 is expected to grow outside the U.S. Moreover, over 40 percent of job creation comes from existing firm expansion, but only 5 percent of U.S. firms have plans for expansion through exporting.

Global Cities Initiative Logo

Receiving an Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Grant

logo_oeaThrough the efforts of DBED, Maryland was awarded an Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Defense Industry Economic Diversification grant. This grant is intended to assist defense communities in developing strategies to increase economic diversification to minimize impacts on regional economies due to potential declines in the Department of Defense’s budget. For example, St. Mary’s County’s economy is nearly 80 percent economically dependent on NAS Patuxent River. As a result, any small decrease in defense spending at NAS Patuxent River would have a disproportionate impact on the local economy.


RESI is fortunate to be involved in both projects. Our initial role is to provide an assessment of what the local defenses supply chain looks like as well as the levels of exports from Maryland-based businesses. The title of this post suggests that we have three events converging into one goal, and that is increasing Maryland’s competiveness worldwide while reducing Maryland’s dependency on the federal government.



As a new member of the RESI team, I had my first experience at the annual Economic Outlook Conference on Monday, November 17, held on-campus in the West Village Commons. In addition to the economic outlook presentation and forecast, the theme of this year’s conference was the impact of craft brewing in Maryland.


After registration and a networking breakfast, the day officially began with Daraius Irani’s presentation “The Economic Recovery: Late to its Own Party.” As the title suggests, the presentation focused on how, even though the U.S. and Maryland economies are no longer in recessions, economic conditions are still subpar due to a lackluster recovery. For example, though Maryland has regained all of the jobs that were lost during the recession, these jobs are skewed towards low-wage, often part-time opportunities. Understandably, the RESI economic forecast was not exactly brewing with good optimistic news (excuse the puns, they are just inevitable).


Set up for the Economic Outlook Conference


This year’s forecast predicts that employment growth will not exceed 0.5% annually from 2014 to 2017, which is not exactly great news for the state. One of the questions we get asked frequently is how accurate our forecast can be. When RESI reexamined our forecast from last year’s conference to compare it to the actual data from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) RESI’s forecast was under by only 152 jobs. Yes, RESI predicted that last year would end with 2,921,819 Maryland residents employed on average in 2013, and DLLR’s actual tabulations from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program were 2,921,970 residents employed on average in 2013. I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be pretty accurate.


The morning keynote by Lester Jones, chief economist with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (can we say dream job) provides an overview of the beer industry in the United States and explained how various economic conditions—for example, changes in consumer preferences for high quality beer—and political factors—changes in federal law and tax credits for craft brewers, for instance—have shaped how people make and drink beer over time.


It was then time for the day’s panel discussion, titled “Craft Beer: Passing Fad or Resilient Economic Development Tool?” Panelists included Jake Day, President of the Salisbury City Council, Maureen O’Prey, historian and author of Brewing in Baltimore and contributor to the documentary Brewmore Baltimore, JT Smith, Executive Director of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland, and Kasey Turner, founder and COO of Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, Maryland. The panelists discussed how craft brewing has impacted their respective fields of expertise or professions, and came to the conclusion that, while craft brewing has had a large positive impact in Maryland thus far, there are ample opportunities for growth.


Fred Crudder of Heavy Seas, RESI Chief Economist Daraius Irani, Baltimore historian Maureen O'Prey, Jailbreak Brewing Founder and COO Kasey Turner, Salisbury City Council President Jake Day, and JT Smith of the Brewer's Association of Maryland

Fred Crudder of Heavy Seas, RESI Chief Economist Daraius Irani, Baltimore historian Maureen O’Prey, Jailbreak Brewing Founder and COO Kasey Turner, Salisbury City Council President Jake Day, and JT Smith of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland


Fred Crudder, director of marketing and hospitality at Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Beer, delivered the afternoon’s keynote address, “My Worst Day is Better than Your Best Day.” Crudder’s talk began with the story of how he found himself working in the beer industry and then at Heavy Seas in particular. He then extoled Maryland’s craft brewing industry, both in terms of the role it plays in the state and in terms of the high-quality beer that is produced. Crudder’s talk included a beer tasting of Heavy Seas Gold Ale.


This year’s Economic Outlook Conference was an engaging experience. Though the economic forecast may have matched the dreary weather outside, the energy in the room more than compensated for the somber economic outlook…and the craft beer samples didn’t hurt either. Cheers to another great conference!



We are once again busy preparing for this year’s Economic Outlook Conference. In past blog posts, I’ve written about all the work it takes to put together the outlook presentation and the extremely important part that students play in helping us put the event together. This year marks the ninth conference that I have been a part of. However, this year’s conference has the special distinction of being my very favorite one yet. I feel as though I have to preface that statement by saying that it has nothing to do with the conference-sponsored happy hour we hosted two weeks ago. In fact, this year’s theme, “The Economic Impact of Craft Brewing in Maryland,” is proving to be even more interesting than I expected.


In preparation for the event, we have been learning a little more about the craft brewing industry. For example, there’s a big decision to make when deciding whether or not to can or bottle the brew. There’s also a difficult trademark process, and cease and desist letters are commonplace. These are just a few of the topics that the panel will be covering. I’ve also learned that there are jobs such as Chief Economist at the National Beer Wholesalers Association (Where did I go wrong in my career?).


This year’s speakers are a diverse group of individuals with varied knowledge in the industry. We have a historian who specializes in the brewing industry in Maryland (She even has a book!) and the marketing director of local brewery Heavy Seas, just to name a few. In case that wasn’t enough, we’ll kick off the day with our own Chief Economist Dr. Daraius Irani providing us with the economic outlook for the year. Every year, attendees look forward to the insightful findings (and lighthearted jokes) that his presentation has become known for. During an election year, the economy plays a significant part in the outcome of elections. Dr. Irani will help to frame the current climate and outline what his expectations are for the economy in the coming year. Fortunately, the theme will play into whatever outcome is expected—here’s hoping we will be cheering for a positive outlook. Registration is still open, and we can’t wait to see you all there!



As the days get shorter and the temperature cools, as flannel, scarves, and boots reenter wardrobes and flip flops are buried in the bottoms of closets, it is abundantly clear: fall is upon us. And this change can mean only one thing: the much-anticipated return of pumpkin spice season. What began when Starbucks introduced its pumpkin spice latte in 2003 has blossomed into $308 million of pumpkin-themed sales annually. And what better way to analyze this phenomenon than with the economist’s toolbox?



Image credit: Wikimedia


The central theme of economics is scarcity: limited resources despite unlimited desires. And pumpkin spice lattes are a prime example of a scarce resource. While it is possible to buy pumpkin year-round thanks to the modern market, and pumpkin spice lattes are just a combination of coffee, milk, and syrup (that you can easily make at home regardless of the time of year), the return of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks is a national news event. This restriction on the supply of pumpkin spice lattes, self-imposed though it may be, results in over $80 million in sales for Starbucks in a single season. Which means, with that decision, they are single-handedly making pumpkin-flavored goods seasonal and scarce.


Also paramount to the field of economics are the laws of supply and demand, and the pumpkin spice craze lends itself nicely to these concepts. The law of supply states that a good’s price and the quantity supplied are directly related—that is, producers are willing to make more of a good when it is more expensive. Put another way, as a good becomes more expensive, more producers are willing to enter the market and supply the good. And think about what has happened with pumpkin-themed goods: over a decade ago, Starbucks alone introduced the pumpkin spice latte. And now, there is pumpkin-spiced everything on the market: pumpkin beer, pumpkin candles, pumpkin dog treats, pumpkin spice beef jerky, and even pumpkin spice deodorant.


Image credit: Starbucks

Pumpkin Spice Latte – Image credit: Starbucks


The law of demand states that a good’s price and the quantity demanded are inversely related—that is, as a good becomes cheaper, the quantity demanded of the good increases. One of the determinants of demand—the factors that change the amount of a good that consumers are willing to buy at a constant price—is the tastes and preferences of consumers. In other words, they are willing to pay relatively more for things that they like and less for things that they dislike. Given the resounding popularity of all things pumpkin spice-themed, they can be grouped into the former category. There is even empirical evidence to support this theoretical argument: the United States Department of Agriculture’s analysis shows that seasonal demand increases retail prices for pumpkins.


The pumpkin spice craze has a huge impact upon the U.S., both economically and more generally. As the Buzzfeed lists, Twitter handle, and Tumblr hashtag show, consumers are excited by and respond well to pumpkin-themed goods. And luckily for everyone, the trend shows no signs of slowing down or decomposing like a Jack-o-lantern in November.



Later this month, a fifth casino will open its doors in Maryland, and in about two years, a sixth casino will open its doors. My question is this: Is there a sufficient consumer base to support this growth, or are the new casinos cannibalizing revenues in Maryland and the surrounding states in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, and Virginia)?


About thirty years ago, two states—New Jersey and Nevada—had casinos. For New Jersey, Atlantic City was the gambling destination for the East Coast; Las Vegas was the gambling destination for everywhere else. Additionally, Indian casinos came into prominence in the 1980s due to a Supreme Court ruling. However, in the last decade, the nation and the Maryland region have experienced an explosion of casinos and other gambling venues. The adult population or, more specifically, those who identify as wanting to gamble is not keeping up with the growth in the number of casinos opening in the region. Between 2000 and 2012, the adult population in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland) grew by 9 percent. However, the number of casinos grew by 183 percent during that same period.


Declining Gambling Revenues
As a result of this explosive growth, the media are full of reports on the share of gambling revenues declining across the region. This decline has resulted in several casino closures in Atlantic City. The gambling revenue is down in Delaware as well. In fact, there is a proposal to provide a subsidy to the casinos there. Gambling revenue is also down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Hollywood Casino Perryville saw a drop in its revenues once Maryland Live! Casino opened in Arundel Mills. I suspect that, when the Horseshoe Baltimore casino opens at the end of this month, Maryland Live! Casino will see a similar drop in revenue. Furthermore, when the MGM National Harbor casino opens in two years, another drop in Maryland Live! Casino’s revenue is likely to occur.


Image credit: South Bmore

Image credit: South Bmore

What is the underlying trend fueling this growth in casinos?
First, many states introduced lotteries as a means to raise additional revenues earmarked for specific programs such as education. Many states saw the success of other state’s gambling ventures and began to introduce gambling in their own jurisdictions, partly to keep their residents’ gambling spending in the state and partly to attract out-of-state gambling expenditures. The tax rate on gambling revenues is usually very high, but casinos are willing to pay due to the profitability of gambling ventures. For Maryland, it is a means for generating additional revenue as well as an economic development opportunity.


The economic development aspect of introducing casinos is somewhat tricky, and timing is everything. Being the first state outside New Jersey to allow gambling allows that state to generate enormous tax revenues and economic opportunity, as many out-of-state visitors are attracted to the new casinos. However, being the last state to allow gambling means that the number of new gamblers visiting from out of state is very limited.


Furthermore, the shifting in-state spending from local restaurants to local casinos does little in the way of increasing local economic activity. However, if local casinos can capture out-of state spending, then there will be an increase in local economic activity. In the Mid-Atlantic region—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland—all but two, Virginia and District of Columbia, have legalized gambling. For Maryland and West Virginia, this disparity has proven to be a great geographic advantage, as Virginians and Washingtonians who wish to gamble can go to either West Virginia or Maryland to spend their money. However, within Maryland, the share of clients to each casino will likely drop as the number of casinos increases.



This past week, I attended my ninth Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) annual conference. Each time I attend, I come away feeling smarter and better networked into the community of economic development. This year’s conference theme, “Research to Revenue: Harnessing Maryland’s Intellectual Capital for Economic Growth,” was very timely and interesting. The panels and speakers ranged from venture capitalists to entrepreneurs to practitioners.


Conference Overview
One of the key takeaways from the conference speakers and panels was that conventional thinking and practices will get the same outcomes. If everyone is doing the same thing, nothing will change. The opening keynote speaker challenged the way economic development practitioners view technology transfer projects. The closing keynote, a venture capitalist, suggested that economic development may have added success if states or localities invest in start-up companies outside the region and, if successful, then bring them to the state or locality to permanently set up shop.


My Presentation
I had the opportunity to present our work on the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) data. These data have 45 unique attributes for each company such as number of employees and sales from 1990 through 2012. Moreover, all the data are geocoded, a feature that enables us to analyze business trends at the sub-county level. We hoped that this availability of data and our analytical and mapping expertise would enable local economic development organizations to have better information about their counties and the business districts within their counties.


Entrepreneurs at MEDA
There were several panels of entrepreneurs who spoke of their challenges with funding, hiring, and the culture within their organizations. While the cultures in each varied dramatically—from a very cerebral quiet office to a rather loud and rambunctious shop floor—all were in agreement that the state and local resources used to assist entrepreneurs were instrumental in their collective success.


Finally, the closing speaker offered a great story of combining a family business with technology. Hooper’s Island Oyster Company was started by a waterman using technology, university scientists, and passion to create a sustainably farmed oyster sold locally as well as in the mid-Atlantic region. Moreover, I can attest that the oysters were absolutely delicious. So, all in all, this past MEDA conference was a great success both for the mind and taste buds.



Is hosting the Olympics worth the investment?
The winter and summer Olympic Games encompass significant work on behalf of the host cities. Before the Olympic Games begin, construction activity and preparation occur years in advance. One of the most frequently asked question once the Games are done is, “does the time and money invested to host the Olympic Games really benefit the host country?” One can assume that, aside from the pride gained in hosting, countries are expecting some benefit from their investment.


Sochi-2014-Company-OlympicsThe 2014 winter Olympic Games were hosted in Sochi, Russia, home to 343,000 citizens. This year’s host country invested significantly in the opening ceremony to boost tourism and create a lasting legacy. The ceremony featured a record 88 countries, 66 world leaders, and 800 performers. The cost to host this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi was an estimated $51 billion—a record high investment. Approximately 235 projects were facilitated to prepare for the Olympics, such as repairs to infrastructure and new housing for local residents. Through improvements due to the many projects and the added tourism of the games, the city is expecting to see a lasting positive effect on the economy.


Economists…in agreement?
Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interesting story regarding the long-term impacts of the games. One of my favorite parts of the story is this line: “Economists are notorious for being unable to agree on anything. So it’s striking that on the finances of the Olympics, they almost all agree.” Opinions usually point to the fact that once the games are over a country mostly ends up with an indebted city. This is almost in direct contrast to the expectations of Government stakeholders.


The British Government, in particular, claims that they were different. A report (nearly 1,000 pages) estimates that they earned at least $1 billion more than the $15 billion they spent to host the 2012 Summer Games. However, there has been a lot of criticism of the report, mostly because the report was funded by the government. Max Nathan, a London economist for the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, claims that it is too soon to really gauge whether or not hosting the London Olympics was worth the investment.


Photos Tell the Tale
Perhaps more telling than any economic report are images from past cities that have hosted the games. A photography project ( led by Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit visits cities such as Athens (2004), Barcelona (1992), and Beijing (2008). The conditions they found in some of these Olympic villages are a far cry from their grand expectations. Some have been turned into prisons or malls while others have been left to decay.

Athens—Faliro Olympic Beach Volleyball Center - Photo credit: NBC News

Athens—Faliro Olympic Beach Volleyball Center – Photo credit: NBC News

It will be interesting to see what happens to the facilities in Sochi now that the Games have ended. How these facilities will be used in the future will say a lot about the long-term benefit to Sochi. According to Forbes, for some past host cities and countries, the Olympics have marked the transition to being a world player. They cite Tokyo (1964), Seoul (1988), and Beijing (2008) as prime examples. For Russia as a whole, the hope is that the Olympics has given the country a bigger starring role on the international stage and laid the groundwork for future international investment growth.



Every February, restaurant reservations at romantic spots become very scarce, heart-shaped gift boxes of chocolates sell like hotcakes, and the price of a dozen roses seemingly rises along with the stress level of any one who is in a relationship and is looking for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift.  According to the National Federation of Retailers, an American will spend $133.91 on average on Valentine’s Day gifts, compared to $130.97 in 2013. However, only 54% of those surveyed will celebrate the holiday—down from 60% in 2013.


With the advent of the internet and smart phones, Valentine’s Day gift giving patterns may be changing. More than 40% of consumers will shop online or use their smart phones to purchase a Valentine’s Day gift. So, gone are the days of men (I say men as a majority of the Valentine’s Day spending, by over half, is done by men) dashing into a florist or jewelry shop to buy whatever is available on the way home from work. This is important, as over half of the women would dump their boyfriends if they did not get something for Valentine’s Day. Even a card would suffice, and Valentine’s Day is the next most popular holiday after Christmas for cards.


However, while the means to purchase Valentine’s Day gifts has changed, the mix of gifts have not changed; it is still cards, candy, flowers, dining, jewelry, or some combination of the above. Gifts of gym memberships or fitness equipment are usually not well received.


Women prefer to receive their gifts in the evening after nice dinners, while men prefer to get their gifts in the morning. With the exception of friends, most people will spend more on their pet for Valentine’s Day than on their coworkers, classmates, and teachers. Condom sales spike by nearly 30% on Valentine’s Day, and the month of March is usually the biggest month in sales of pregnancy tests. This figure is not surprising as 85% of men and women consider sex an important part of Valentine’s Day. Moreover, over 10% of couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day.


While Valentine’s Day retail sales are nearly $20 billion, Christmas retail sales are nearly $270 billion. However, forgetting a gift on Christmas may not have as significant an impact on your romantic relationship as forgetting a gift or getting the wrong type of gift on Valentine’s Day.

Image credit: Tada - click the image to view full Valentine's Day infographic

Image credit: Tada – click the image to view full Valentine’s Day infographic


We’re happy to announce the completion of a 6 month project with Cyberguys, a local technology company providing computer solutions, service and sales.  This was a collaborative effort between 3 groups within DECO – the Center for GIS, the Integrated Marketing Team, and Regional Economic Studies Institute.

The first phase of the project focused on developing a strategy to help Cyberguys expand their reach. To accomplish this, we analyzed who their local competition is, what their services include, and how those businesses pricing structures aligned with Cyberguys. Cyberguys provided us with a comprehensive customer list that we were able to display on a map, allowing us to visualize where the customers live in relation to the retail store. In turn, this allowed them to see exactly where their customers are located – right around the corner or on the other side of town. We also recommended new customer bases to target as well as package pricing that would be attractive to those audience groups. The strategy also included suggested specific media outlets and provided a social strategy that will provide the guidance they need to launch their social platform.

The second phase of the project took our focus onto more tangible items which included messaging, print collateral and a new website. For the messaging, we kept it straight forward so that potential customers would know exactly what the Cyberguys do. We landed on

Cyberguys. Expert Computer Solutions Service and Sales. Priced Right and Hassle Free.

This messaging was integrated with selected imagery on various mediums (print and web) to create consistency in the visual branding. These visuals complimented Cyberguys’ established logo. For the print collateral, we designed two pieces – a direct mail postcard that can be easily updated for specific audiences and a 2 sided flyer that can be printed on demand for the store or business development meetings. We also developed all the copy. To meet Cyberguys’ needs, all of the collateral was designed using Microsoft Publisher allowing Cyberguys to easily maintain their print collateral moving forward. Finally, we developed a website for Cyberguys. We made recommendations on the site’s architecture and reworked copy for the site to work in this new organization. We provided a photo shoot at their store and voila! Their site was ready to be launched. The great thing about their site is that it was created using WordPress and is hosted in their own hosting environment so they were able to integrate some plug-ins and modify the design allowing them to have complete control of their site.