Prince George’s County Rushern L. Baker III touted in his sixth State of the Economy address Wednesday how the jurisdiction has become an economic force in the Washington metropolitan region.
According to a 2016 fiscal year Maryland tourism report, the county brought in the most admission and amusement taxes at $16.6 million, thanks to Six Flags America, Gaylord National Resort and FedEx Field, which houses the Washington Redskins.
Since 2013, the county produced 15,000 jobs, a figure that doesn’t include more than 3,600 jobs at the MGM National Harbor casino resort that opened in December.
“It made me feel good to see that we are on right track,” he said. “We are impacting lives and families. We are creating a climate of economic development in Prince George’s County.”
Before the nearly 500 businesses leaders, state, county and municipal officials who registered to hear Baker speak at the Colony South Hotel in Clinton, attendees got to see about 30 people stand on Surratts Road and take pictures of Calvin Hawkins.
Hawkins, a senior adviser to Baker, plans to run for one of the two at-large seats on County Council voters approved in the November election. The council will expand from nine to 11.
Hawkins could face a few challengers in the June 2018 primary from several current council members whose terms expire next year, including Mel Franklin (D-District 9) of Upper Marlboro and Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington.
Back inside the conference room, the county’s top cheerleader, Economic Development Corp. President Jim Coleman, told attendees that one reason businesses should relocate to the county is the school system and how it compares to neighboring jurisdictions. Prince George’s graduation rate reached 81 percent in the 2015-16 school year, compared to 69 percent in the District.
Additionally, the county’s median household income of nearly $77,000 had its highest increase since 2010.
But in order to achieve economic stability, Baker praised the EDCs program to bring returning citizens back to the workforce with 516 receiving assistance at the agency’s career center.
“If you had paid your time and have shown you will not be a repeat offender, there is opportunity for you here in Prince George’s County,” he said. “It really changes the whole dynamic of family.”