Prince George’s County officials are excited about the future and what it may bring in terms of new jobs. As the county moves forward in the 21st century, officials believe Prince George’s is ready to usher in new technology jobs, specifically in biotechnology, cyber security, and geothermal technologies.
At the request of County Council member Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant), the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission conducted a feasibility study on the county’s ability to develop a biotechnology research center. From the study, county officials believe the county is well-equipped to bring biotech jobs to the county but it just needs to make the commitment.
“What has happened over the past decades, companies had been forming, coming out of the University of Maryland’s incubator and because there were insufficient wet lab facilities in the county, they were going to Montgomery County,” said Kwasi Holman president and chief executive of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation (PGCEDC). “What we’re trying to do is create nodes or development areas within the county that have the available wet lab space so when companies are looking for space, they consider Prince Georges County as a viable alternative.”
Holman believes that in order to bring this plan into fruition, the county must go through a three-step process to attract businesses.
“We have to work with the private sector as well as look at available public resources to begin to create these spaces, find the financing for these spaces, and find the tenants who are willing to move into them,” Holman said.
Del. Gerron Levi (D-Dist. 23A) among others believes that going after geothermal technologies specifically can be a great boost for job growth within the county.
“I think geothermal energy is something that is very accessible for our area,” said Levi. “I think if we can attract or develop manufacturers here, it could present a great job-creating engine.
“Not only could we adopt the technology but we could also have specialty manufacturers and others that produce geothermal heat pumps or make some of the products related to geothermal heat pumps.”
Coming on the heels of the study is Gov. Martin O’Malley’s announcement that he expects Maryland to become a hub for cyber security.
In a speech at the CyberMaryland Summit O’Malley said, “Maryland is poised to lead the nation’s war on cyber crime. From the innovative work being conducted at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), our universities and Maryland companies both large and small, to our highly-educated IT workforce, we have a duty to ensure the safety and security of every American citizen against this growing threat.”
Holman believes that when those jobs come to Maryland, many of them will come to Prince George’s County.
“We’re expecting some of those jobs to come here because there are a number of federal facilities here or nearby,” said Holman. “We’ll be working with the state as well as local officials to make sure Prince George’s gets our fair share of those emerging jobs.”
And officials want county residents to have the bulk of those jobs, though they admit there must be training programs put into place for this to happen.
“We have to train county residents for the jobs that are coming as opposed to the jobs that were here decades ago,” said Holman. “We would work with the employers to create training opportunities to begin that training and then work with the companies to assist them in further training those employees.
“We do a demand base kind of job training and we work with our partners including the community college and private service providers to make sure that by the time these jobs are available we’ll have a willing and ready workforce waiting to fill those jobs.”
Holman believes these new technologies will bring over 2,000 new jobs to the county over the next 10 years.