Municipal leaders learn about resources, programs for activating prosperity
Economic Development holds open house focusing on supporting job seekers, enhancing business development
More than 50 municipal officials and county leaders came together to engage in an interactive discussion about key economic develop- ment initiatives and programs available to support job seekers and enhance business development during the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) first Municipal Open House and Appreciation Day on March 30 at its headquarters in Largo.
EDC President and CEO
Jim Coleman said the forum is about activating and celebrating prosperity in the county by bringing together mayors, town managers, council members and economic development leaders and sharing the resources that the EDC has to offer.
“We are activating prosperity in every village and every hamlet,” Coleman said in an interview. “We wanted to get their feedback, as their partners, on how we can help them get their residents back to work and help their small businesses to grow and attract more businesses to the county. I’m glad to have them as part of my EDC posse.”
Municipal and county leaders learned about various programs offered through the EDC’s Workforce Development Division including the One-Stop Career-Center which provides job placements and training skills for residents; the Hire Prince George’s initiative which provides financial assistance to employers hiring residents; and the Youth CareerConnect Program, a prestigious $7 million grant that U.S. President Barack Obama presented last year which focuses on students in the fields of health, bio-science and information technology, according to an EDC press release.
By local jurisdictions taking an active role in implementing the resources the EDC has for business attraction and expansion, small business development and workforce training and placement in their communities, the EDC anticipates that home values as well as median household incomes will increase through the creation of well-paying jobs for residents. Coleman said these types of forums are a vital part of the EDC’s Activate Prosperity initiative which seeks to raise the awareness of the business and workforce development resources.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Prince George’s County’s 27 municipalities to learn about the many programs that are available at the [EDC],” said David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer of economic development for the county executive’s office. “It’s a chance for them to understand how Prince George’s County values its municipalities. We’ve seen wonderful growth in the county for the last five years.”
In terms of growth, Iannucci said schools are improving dramatically, public safety numbers are spectacular and the county is increasing its job numbers exponentially. In addition, there are commercial development projects going on from north to south including the $1.3 billion MGM National Harbor, the regional medical center and the new FBI headquarters. That’s why the county needs the EDC’s help in providing residents with job assistance and the skills they need to become eligible for those new jobs, he said.
“We’re seeing growth in the key industry sectors we want to see — 5,500 jobs year over year [plus] another 11,000 or 12,000 jobs held by our citizens,” Iannucci said. “Holding on to Prince George’s County’s existing businesses is a major priority. All of these things are working and we want the municipalities to be a part of it.”
The forum also included a presentation on the importance of building up an arts community within each local jurisdiction. Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council Executive Director Rhonda Dallas said arts and economic development “can go hand-in-hand” and that having a cultural plan for a community needs to start at the municipal level.
“Public art can be transformative as with a gateway community, or it can engage the small business community by messaging and branding,” Dallas said. “We have partnered with the [EDC] on several projects in the past and are looking forward to partnering with all of you in the near future.”
Municipal leaders concluded the forum with a discussion on how they can individually engage the services of the EDC. Town of Bladensburg Councilman Walter Ficklin (D) was one of the people who requested to have the EDC come to his jurisdiction and speak directly to the constituents.
“I wanted to come out and continue to support them as well as to ask them to support us in regards to economic development,” Ficklin said. “It was also good to see other municipality leaders come out and voice their opinions in regards to us working together and … to be more inclusive when it comes to making decisions.”
Iannucci said Coleman and his team did an outstanding job in communicating its resources and programs to the municipal leaders whose responsibilities not only entail defining their town’s policy and goals, but improving programs and deciding financial matters as well.
Through partnerships and other opportunities with the EDC, the county’s municipalities can “collectively and collaboratively achieve” the goals their leaders aspire to, he said.
“The message I would take back to [County Executive Rushern Baker] is that there are a lot of partners out there. The municipalities, the elected officials, the appointed officials from the towns and the cities of Prince George’s County are eager to absorb all of the programs that are offered by the [EDC],” Iannucci said. “But it is a two-way street [as] there are 27 municipalities and one county government. We can’t be as aggressive as they would like us to be on a daily basis in reaching out. It’s simply not possible. … Reach out to us to help us help you.”
Town of Bladensburg Councilman Walter Ficklin participates in an information session on key economic development initiatives and programs during the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation’s first Municipal Open House and Appreciation Day on March 30 at the EDC headquarters in Largo.
David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer of economic development for the county executive’s office, prepares to give a few remarks at the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation’s first Municipal Open House and Appreciation Day on March 30 in Largo.