Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is hoping for development around the Suitland Metro station, one of the only areas in the county home to federal agencies.

In a speech to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), Baker stressed how viable the area was for development.

“There’s a town in my county called Suitland. It’s where my daughter goes to school and it’s a community that has everything a developer could possibly want,” Baker said. “It has jobs available from the federal government. The US Census Headquarters, National Archives facilities, and the Office of Naval Intelligence are all in Suitland. It also has the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).”

However, instead of having office and retail development like areas in Arlington County, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., Suitland, like many other areas in the county, is instead filled with aging apartment complexes and unattractive strip malls that bring little in tax revenue or jobs for county residents.

Baker says that he’s spent his eight months in office trying to remove any barriers standing in the way of development in Suitland and other areas in the county, because otherwise there would be nothing to spur development.

Baker touts creating legislation that brings more transparency to campaign funding and establishing the Accountability Compliance and Integrity task force to get rid of waste and corruption in government. He speaks of trying to streamline the permit process to remove the red tape that plagues many of the county’s business deals. He also spoke of the $50 million Economic Development Incentive (EDI) fund that will be used to attract businesses.

Despite that, the county is still struggling to attract businesses of any kind. Just last week, the county lost out on a bid to bring the Department of Health and Human Services to Prince George’s.

That’s why Baker has enlisted the help of the county’s federal partners. Even with the federal agencies in Suitland, the county still lags in federal jobs. That’s why U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D.-Md., has been working hard to make sure the county is getting a fair shake from the General Services Administration, the agency that approves leasing contracts.

“I have asked very pointed questions on the record and challenged on the way they engage in leasing,” Edwards told the AFRO.

“I do think that it is having the effect of making GSA more accountable in its process,” she continued. “We are simply not enjoying the most justice of the federal government when it comes to parity in the region around leasing opportunities. We just got to keep the pressure on.”

It’s that kind of pressure that has Baker confident the county can overcome its obstacles to achieve economic development in Suitland and other places.

“In Prince George’s County, we are building, and we are growing. We are becoming a new engine of economic growth for this region,” Baker said.

“We’re in the perfect location, at the perfect moment, and we’re finally investing in the tools we need to succeed,” he continued.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO