Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks took the stage in a ballroom at a College Park, Maryland, hotel on Wednesday, speaking for nearly 30 minutes about how much money had poured into the county over the last year — about what one would expect in the annual speech, dubbed the “State of the Economy.”
It was a chance to brag to the local business community about the “over $1 billion of investments along our Blue Line corridor,” as well as how the “redevelopment at Cheverly unlocks a billion dollars in private investment,” after the old Prince George’s Hospital Center is demolished over the coming months.
The county hopes to see significant amounts of work on that project conducted by small, minority-owned businesses based in the county, which would have the opportunity to buy into the project and share some of the profits in the future.
“Everything we’ve done on economic development also has an eye toward equity,” Alsobrooks said after the speech. With that project, contractors would be able to buy into the redevelopment with their work and claim partial ownership when it’s all done, rather than just get paid for the work and move on.
Alsobrooks mentioned the county’s dogged pursuit of the new FBI headquarters, reiterating arguments over equitable investment that are in line with a pair of executive orders by President Joe Biden, while also promising lower building costs than what a site in Springfield, Virginia, would cost.
“Our administration has focused on eliminating obstacles to prosperity,” she touted, before eventually closing out her speech by promising “all of these investments help make Prince George’s County more robust, and if we continue to invest, if we continue to turn our ideas into action, our county’s future will be even brighter.”
After the speech, Alsobrooks lauded efforts to bring state and federal investments into the county over the last year, mentioning one of her favorite projects, the New Carrollton Metro station redevelopment, as a significant project.
But she also said it’s imperative that the county grow its commercial tax base from what it is now, and not do anything that might stifle investment around the county.
“We can’t move back. We can’t lose momentum. We can’t begin to pass policies that discourage investment from businesses,” said Alsobrooks. She specifically cited restrictions on townhouse development being considered by the county council, which would limit where new communities could be built.
“These are the kind of things that send the wrong signals to investors and who also want to give opportunities for first time home buyers to live in Prince George’s, many of whom select town homes as the entry point to home ownership,” said Alsobrooks.
The legislation is causing major angst in the development community, and because it deals with land use, the county executive’s office has no veto power over the measure, which is scheduled for a hearing in front of a county council committee on Thursday.
For all the frustration it’s causing, a source says it doesn’t appear to have the votes needed to pass the council, even if it gets out of committee.
In the long term, Alsobrooks hopes tax credits for the film industry will bring more TV and film production to Prince George’s County, as well as tax incentives to bring in more data centers and technology companies.