A Pro-Business Foundation Helps Lead Prince George’s County Through Uncertain Times
No part of the U.S. has been left unscathed by the coronavirus pandemic. But in the face of record-high unemployment numbers and an unsteady economy, many areas of the country have responded with quick action and remarkable resilience.
In Prince George’s County, Maryland, county officials have been working tirelessly from the start of the pandemic to support local businesses. Soon after the pandemic began, the county council unanimously approved County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ proposal to provide $20M to the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. and its sister agency, the Financial Services Corp., to allocate to businesses that were impacted by the coronavirus.
As a result, hundreds of local companies were better able to weather this storm and keep their operations — and employees — afloat.
“When the crisis hit, Prince George’s County stepped up immediately,” said David Iannucci, president and CEO of the Prince George’s County EDC. “We all know that COVID-19 is a health crisis, but it’s also had a devastating impact on the economy. But thanks to that $20M we were able to support more than 660 local businesses.”
While the county is still working through the continued effects of the coronavirus, Iannucci is confident that it will come out of the pandemic strong, and that it’s still a great place for companies to call home. Bisnow recently sat down with him to learn more about the local business climate and the future of Prince George’s County.
Bisnow: How has Prince George's County been supporting the local business community?
Iannucci: First was the $20M Business Recovery Initiative. We were thrilled at how many local businesses we were able to help. We also worked with the Maryland Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration to leverage their funds for our local companies.
Along with that, we hosted webinars that offered small businesses important tips for surviving the pandemic, including how to ramp up business online, the type of protections they needed to put in place for their employees and customers and how to talk with their landlords about rent issues.
We instituted a “Buy Prince George’s” program that connected county residents with local businesses. The goal was to create an online county mall that kept dollars local. More than 250 businesses signed up for this program. The county has also expedited the outdoor dining permit process to help local restaurants provide outdoor seating in areas where they have never had it before.
Most recently, the county set up a $2M assistance program for local child care facilities. Many local child care centers shut down during the pandemic, but we understand that these are crucial lifelines for parents who are trying to get back to work, and we want to get them up and running again as soon as possible.
Bisnow: How have local businesses been surviving?
Iannucci: While some businesses have been getting by with help from the county, others have actually been flourishing. We have a large federal presence here and a lot of contractors who work directly for government agencies, and those businesses have been thriving. One local contractor, Science Systems and Applications Inc., working with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has added 60 employees during the pandemic.
Another local company, 2U Inc., which is a digital education company with close to 2,000 employees, has been doing very well. Their digital platform was set up prior to the pandemic and is a great platform for universities that are offering online classes.
Also, many local restaurants have very successfully pivoted to delivery, takeout and outdoor dining, which has gone a long way toward helping them stay open during the summer months.
Bisnow: What does the future look like for Prince George’s County? What are some major projects currently under development?
Iannucci: Prior to the pandemic, we had put forth a Transit-Oriented Development strategy to better take advantage of our 15 metro stations, and we have been successfully building developments near these stations ever since. The infrastructure we’ve put in place will support the continued growth of the county and will help us survive the recession.
We currently have several developments in the works. At our New Carrollton metro station, a major transportation hub in the DC region, there is a $1B development anchored by Kaiser Permanente, with multifamily projects under construction. The Maryland headquarters for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is also going to be located there, in Prince George’s County. We are also opening the University of Maryland Capital Region Health Center, a teaching hospital that will be the most modern hospital in the Washington, D.C., region.
I could go on. There is more than $3.5B worth of construction happening in Prince George’s County right now, and more [is] expected to come down the pipeline soon.
Bisnow: Why should companies that are looking for a new home consider Prince George’s County?
Iannucci: Alsobrooks and the county council are committed to working with the business community and giving them everything they need to succeed.
We have led all 24 counties in Maryland in job growth for the last five years, and we plan to continue growing that success. While the nation’s unemployment rate has surged, Maryland and Prince George’s County’s numbers have not gone up as much as the national average. We have the foundation for a strong economy, and we will build on that.
In terms of future plans, we are hoping to attract data centers to come into the county. Maryland has changed its sales tax exemptions to include data centers, which has made it a very attractive state for people looking to build these crucial facilities. In Prince George’s County, we’ve adopted legislation that gives us the ability to waive the county personal property tax on computers, servers and other equipment data centers need. We are prepared to compete for these facilities.
We have a highly educated workforce, numerous federal employment centers, three airports in the metropolitan area and more. Businesses that move here will find the skilled talent they need and the type of exciting, vibrant community that boosts employee retention.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.