By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Boldly proclaiming to remember the past while building towards the future, Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks delivered her first “State of the County Address,” by confidently charting her plans for the future.
On June 11 at the Hotel at the University of Maryland, in a speech that lasted for approximately 30 minutes, the first year-leader of the County cited economic development as the driving force which has catapulted the area into becoming the “crown jewel of Maryland”.
“The state of the Prince George’s County is stronger than ever and the word has gotten out,” said Alsobrooks. “Prince George’s County has arrived.”
The first term County Executive once again praised her predecessor Rushern Baker for leading a seamless transition, which allowed her to take office and hit the ground running by initiating a series of “transformative projects” that are reducing unemployment, improving education, healthcare and redeveloping communities that have been previously overlooked.
Alsobrooks claimed, as one of her early accomplishments, the $1.5 billion in education funding that her team was able to secure from the state of Maryland during this year’s General Assembly. She said that $53 million of Kirwin funding will directly benefit universal pre-kindergarten programs and allow for 18 new schools to be constructed over the next seven years.
Alsobrooks stated that Prince George’s County has added more than 20,000 new jobs and the median household income has increased from $50,000 to $80,000, while unemployment has dropped to 3.9 percent. She also stated that several new projects will bring over 2,000 more jobs to the area and the County’s bond rating has improved.
The County Executive also stated that the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving will relocate to a 100-acre site on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.
“We are the economic engine that drives the state,” said Alsobrooks. “The energy is so strong that we are able to attract new investors.”
Alsobrooks did take pride in continuing the investment of corporate development opportunities. She also stated that her administration will growing entrepreneurship in Prince George’s County. In addition, she, “pledged to support small, minority and women owned businesses.”
According to Alsobrooks, one of the main areas where the County is experiencing its growth is the redevelopment under utilized malls and shopping centers and turning them into commerce centers that help reduce the number of communities that are “food deserts.” Improving the accessibility to fresh food instead of fast food has a direct correlation to improving the quality of health for County residents, she opined.
“Access to fresh quality food is a matter of life or death,” Alsobrooks said.
She was adamant about restoring pride in the County that she grew up in and is using it as a catalyst for its residents to feel the same way. In charting the potential legacy of her first term as County Executive, Alsobrooks spoke of being “Prince George’s Proud.”
She expanded on her idea of beautification so that residents develop a greater sense of pride in where they live by investing the personal sweat equity in cosmetic home improvements, while keeping streets and shared areas clean and free of unnecessary clutter. The former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney also laid down her personal gauntlet toward those who use the area as dumping grounds for trash and other forms of refuse. Alsobrooks promised aggressive prosecution for those who disregard laws prohibiting them from using certain places as personal landfills.
“We’ve introduced legislation targeting those who choose to dump their trash illegally,” Alsobrooks said. “There are cameras that capture license plates and you will be caught.”
Alsobrooks reiterated that her administration would more “efficient and responsible,” while bringing County services directly to the community.