Angela’s Jobs and Economic Development Platform
for Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County has made outstanding economic development progress over the last half dozen years. After the previous administration, the County worked hard to earn and build trust of those interested in investing in the county. Now people are seeing Prince George’s County as we do: an amazing place to start your business, open a store or restaurant, or to invest in redevelopment or transited-oriented development.

 

Given recent successes, I believe we now must focus and invest in our most precious resource: Prince George’s County residents. We must turn our attention to workforce training and position our residents to take advantage of jobs coming to the county. While we welcome development projects, we must build up our communities, neighborhood by neighborhood.

 

Economic development not only brings investment to the county, it also:

  • Builds our commercial tax base. Growing our commercial tax base will lessen the burden on our homeowners. Unlike our neighboring jurisdictions, far too much of our tax burden currently falls on residential property owners due to a relatively small commercial tax base.
  • Funds critical services such as education, public safety as well as workforce training, transportation infrastructure and litter removal.
  • Creates jobs. New jobs in the county provide opportunities for our residents who are currently unemployed, underemployed or to work closer to home.

 

That last point is key: creating jobs means creating opportunity. We must ensure Prince Georgians are ready to take advantage of new opportunities and can create the life they want for themselves and their families. Everyone should enjoy living in a safe neighborhood, receiving a quality public education, with access to topnotch health care, and avenues to economic security.

Angela’s position on the issues:

We must shift our economic development focus to benefit our established neighborhoods.

  • We will focus on development that directly benefits our established communities. Prince George’s County has far too many outdated and run-down commercial centers.
  • We can realign our economic development resources to concentrate on localized community development. Much as is done by our municipalities, we can dedicate staff in our economic development office to specific geographic areas of the county.
  • Staff then can develop the detailed knowledge of these areas necessary–what kind of stores, amenities and services are lacking—to encourage the best possible economic development outcome. Serving as the point of contact for economic development efforts, staff will know the local retail centers owners and assist them in choosing tenants that neighbors want to see.

Small firms, county-based businesses and minority business enterprises are the foundation of the Prince George’s County economy. We need to proactively grow this business community and its job force. If given the chance to serve as County Executive, I will appoint a business advocate to report directly to me and move our county businesses forward.

  • While we want the purchasing power of the county is to support these firms, they also must have a role in delivering the larger economic development projects coming to the county.
  • To best address the needs of our county-based and MBE firms we should do an accurate survey of county businesses to better understand what work they do, and determine what kind of county assistance can help these businesses grow–and employ county residents.
  • We must know about opportunities for growth and be sure that county-based businesses are fully prepared and positioned to take advantage of them. This requires hands-on outreach to county-based firms, learning of their goals, their limitations and tailoring specific programs (whether training, workforce services, or specific economic aid) to realize their potential.
  • My appointed business advocate would chair an advisory council comprised of county businesses. I want my administration to receive feedback directly from entrepreneurs regarding the challenges they face and how the county can help them grow.
  • We will establish and market business incubators to grow and assist new and existing businesses. This direct interaction with businesses is important to providing the correct resources to be successful.

The County can help firms successfully compete for business by helping them prepare to bid on projects. For firms seeking to compete for county procurement contracts or a role in county development projects, especially our smaller firms, the county can assist with:

  • bonding support
  • enhanced lines of credit, and
  • expedited payment.

We want to be sure all businesses, no matter their size, can compete on county procurement and development jobs.

Current job skills are critical to making a good living, thus workforce development—providing the skills and certifications necessary to obtain employment in a given field–is more important now than ever. Prince George’s County must do a better job of providing this training. But workforce training must also ensure adults have the most basic skills required to obtain employment.

  • Workforce services are now funded almost entirely by our state and federal governments, but I believe the County must invest as well to provide the needed program resources, but also demonstrate our commitment to this essential training.
  • These services must be available to all county residents and be widely publicized. Proactive County outreach to residents about these training programs is important, including by partnering with our faith community, municipal partners, and civic leaders to share current workforce training offerings.
  • Currently over 20% of county residents over the age of 18 lack basic literacy skills and over 79,000 residents over the age of 18 do not have a high school diploma. We must reach these adults and help them obtain these basic, yet essential skills.
  • A robust workforce services program in the County benefits potential employees, but also helps attract employers by providing a trained pool of qualified workers. This is a win-win: providing jobs for our residents plus growing our commercial tax base.

What does economic development do? Economic development can bring a restaurant to an undeserved area, bring an employer to an area where jobs are scarce or a grocery store to food desert.

  • Meaningful, positive economic development doesn’t happen by accident; it is the result of hard work, vigilance, and commitment. This careful approach will be a hallmark of our efforts to address the needs of neighborhoods through positive economic development.
  • In addition to being aggressive, to pursuing quality retail with a sense of urgency, it also means being smart about how we approach development. This could mean, for example,
    • attending regional meetings of real estate brokers representing grocery stores
    • making key data available that demonstrates we can support high quality retail, and
    • dedicating staff retail experts to attracting business to the county.

And, yes, it means knocking down the biases that have prevented our county from enjoying the right mix of amenities, such as high-quality restaurants and clothing options, that we should have available.

We have wonderful assets that we must make the most of. We have 15 Metro stations, almost all are underdeveloped–especially relative to other Metro stations in the region. In addition, we have institutions of higher education as county partners.

  • Transit-oriented development (TOD) creates centers of activity, residential housing, retail and offices near an existing node of mass transit. This targeted development approach is smart growth; it reduces cars on the road and lessens demand for costly infrastructure–roads, water and sewer service–in undeveloped areas.
  • We will continue efforts to attract activity at our Metro stations. Aggressive promotion of the development potential at our Metro stations must be balanced with coordinating building in a confined area near an active rail network. This takes attention and diligence. Consequently, I support creating a position in our economic development office to coordinate efforts to realize the County’s full TOD potential.
  • While providing important transportation, the Purple Line, and its stations, also bring new investment opportunities—and that is one more reason why I support its construction.
  • Our institutions of higher education play a critical role in bringing investment to the county. Not only do students and faculty create new innovative businesses, but campuses serve as foundations and anchor investment in the surrounding area. Building strong ties to our campus partners is critical to the nuts and bolts of keeping businesses at home in the county, but together the county and our institutions of higher education have a near limitless potential for economic development.

While there have been some successes in the last several years, Prince George’s County continues to have a lack of a federal government presence relative to its regional peers. This not only is patently unfair, but it also leads to regional imbalances and, to our residents, often means a long commute to work outside of the county.

  • Prince George’s County most continue to make the case for a federal presence and not just industrial uses, such as warehouses, but with regard to office buildings and other similar uses. This involves working with our federal partners and the private sector to best position the County’s assets for any available opportunity.
  • The county most also be aware of expiring federal leases in order to maintain the presence we currently have.