GREENBELT – During the annual State of the Chamber Breakfast on Feb. 21, Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce officials briefly reviewed the group’s accomplishments over the past year and laid out their upcoming objectives, events and concerns.
Approximately 150 members of the chamber and other interested parties attend the event at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt.
“We are a chamber that’s going in a really good place. We’re heading in the right direction,” said Jason DeLoach, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s board. “But, we can’t get complacent. We have to continue to do the things that we’ve done in prior years to get us to this point.”
The Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit alliance of more than 500 businesses. Although the chamber is not a government agency, several elected officials, including County Councilwoman Andrea Harrison and Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan, attended.
A prevalent theme throughout the event was the importance of collaboration.
“You’re going to help this organization thrive by helping other members,” DeLoach said.
Speakers also addressed ongoing efforts to cultivate positive relationships with nearby jurisdictions, such as Montgomery County’s Chamber of Commerce.
“The reason why we’re not an island is we want to make sure that not only are you getting opportunities in Prince George’s County, but we know about the opportunities in the region,” David Harrington said, President of the chambers. “We are rising in stature, not only in Prince George’s County but all among the region.”
Harrington said he is interested in advocating for Montgomery County to be the site for Amazon’s second headquarters. In January, Amazon announced Montgomery County as among the 20 other finalists shortlisted their HQ2.
“A rising tide raises all ships,” Harrington said.
Prince George’s County also applied for the development but was not chosen to continue in the process.
One attendant, who had previously been a member of the chamber, inquired as to whether there is an effort to create opportunities for businesses in the same region of the county to meet to discuss their priorities and concerns.
Harrington said there had been some effort, but “we can be much more intentional about it.
“I can’t disclose some of the things we’re thinking about regarding growth, but that is definitely on our radar screen. We have a Strategic Impact Committee that is looking at those types of opportunities to the chamber, but as well as to be more regional in scope.”
He also said the chamber is hoping the county will achieve “40 percent movement.”
“That pathway to 40 percent means businesses that are located in Prince George’s County get at least 40 percent of the contracts that are happening,” Harrington said. “It’s about time. No longer can we ship our procurement dollars out to Virginia and other places.”
Another topic of discussion was the pieces of legislation in the General Assembly and County Council the chamber is monitoring. These include the recently passed mandatory paid sick leave bill as well as proposals to increase the minimum wage to $15 and to provide funding for the Metro System.
“The big issue right now is the fight for $15 minimum wage bill, and I think that’s going to sail through the House, but we’re trying to get some amendments in there, working with our key legislators,” Harrington said.
June Evans, the co-chair of the Women in Business Development Committee, explained this year’s theme for that group will be “A Season of Change.” Last year’s theme centered around techniques women can use to brand their businesses, and they held several events about that topic.
Craig Muckle, the chair of the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment Committee expressed his hope the committee will focus more on the hospitality and entertainment components.
“Without our hospitality and entertainment, people will not be in Prince George’s County,” Muckle said. “They’ll be going to some of the other neighboring jurisdictions.”