LARGO – Despite a budget session filled with tension and budget balancing issues, the state of the Prince George’s County economy is still on the rise according to County Executive Rushern Baker III.
There has been notable job growth and an increase in employment throughout the last five years, according to Baker. The county has seen an employment numbers across the county and an increase in employment wage.
From the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2014 the county has seen an 1.5 percent increase in employment from 304,016 people employed in the county to 308,713 people. From July 2011 to June 2015 the county has seen a 2.5 percent increase in employed residents.
A majority of the jobs have come from education and health, Baker said. And the development of areas around the county, including “downtown” Largo, have helped spur employment and increased wages for citizens across the county.
“This is the hot place,” Baker said. “This is all going to be part of what develops downtown Largo. This is just an example of what is going to happen throughout all of Prince George’s County.”
People now see Prince George’s County as competitors to Montgomery County, Baker said, and that has been the administration’s goal all along. If people look at Prince George’s County, he said, they will “invest, live and thrive” in the county.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Economic Development David Iannucci said when Baker first appointed him DCAO, the administrations priorities were increasing jobs in the county and increasing the commercial tax base. Since then, he said, the focus has been on those two points “like a laser.”
“They are priorities because they are empowering. They empower the county executive to focus on the things that are really important to him like public safety and education,” Iannucci said. “We need to create the revenue base, and that is really what this announcement is about today.”
Baker took office shortly after the nation fell into its recession in 2010. The recovery has been slow for the nation as a whole and has affected Prince George’s County in that same way. Even with these numbers, Iannucci said, the county still faces a structural deficit and is near its borrowing limit.
The county faced the ethical issues of the past, Iannucci said, and they did not have all of the economic development tools they needed to move forward. There were few businesses wanting to do business with the county in the past because of their previous struggles and issues.
Baker, himself, persuaded some of the companies who almost left the county to stay and continue doing business with them, Iannucci said.
“Our recovery has been sluggish since the recession and it, frankly, has been frustratingly slow. I think all of us will admit that,” Iannucci said. “But we did some important things after the county executive took office. We started holding on to companies that we know were going to leave the county and were going to cause us harm by losing irreparable jobs.”
Baker is Prince George’s County’s most precious resource, according to Economic Development Corporation President Jim Coleman. For Baker to be as open to business as he is, Coleman said, has been important to changing the course of Prince George’s County.
“It is a pleasure to be able to brag about our county executive and how they are committed to business here in Prince George’s County,” Coleman said.