Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

National Conference Coming to Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County will host the first major event this weekend since the COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire state of Maryland since March 2020.

The majority of 2,000 attendees are scheduled to attend the 86th National Association of Counties conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor on July 9-12.

It’s unknown if this marks the first time Prince George’s hosted conference for the organization known as “NACo,” but county officials estimate the four-day conference could generate revenue of $940,000.

“NACo is really one of the first times of the resurgence of the business traveling public. It will have a huge effect on the restaurants and the shops at National Harbor…and the smaller hotels at National Harbor,” said David Iannucci, president and CEO of the county’s Economic Development Corp. “It is a very important step of the reopening of the Prince George’s County economy, but also regional economy in terms of a signal that people are starting to get more comfortable for business travel.”

The conference will be a mix of in-person and virtual programming to discuss a myriad of topics such as county officials’ roles in COVID-19 recovery, leveraging county parks and recreation for underserved communities and how county officials can best utilize the $65.1 billion for counties from the American Rescue Plan.

NACo announced Tuesday one of the main guest speakers will be Vice President Kamala Harris, who plans to give remarks Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to attend on the conference’s last day Monday, July 12.

The conference schedule shows former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), now U.S. secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will deliver a keynote address Saturday, July 10.

A few hours after her remarks Saturday, the schedule notes a Prince George’s official will speak about neuroscience.

George Askew, deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education, will join University of Maryland professor Brenda Jones Harden to discuss how research on neuroscience and its effect on children can help shape policy decisions.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg plans to appear Sunday, July 11 before the large urban and rural action caucus.

Amanda Harris, chief of services for Montgomery County, to speak about the state of Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction on lessons learned amid the COVID-19 pandemic on homelessness and emergency assistance.

NACo plans to highlight some of this year’s policy priorities that include:

  • Additional federal funding to provide COVID-19 relief for housing, public health and other services.
  • Improve intergovernmental partnership between counties and the federal government.
  • Promote county infrastructure priorities for economic development, public safety and water resources.
  • Advance broadband access with cooperation from federal and state governments while preserving local decision-making.

Although the mask mandate in Maryland ended July 1, hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the resort, temperature checks each day and surgical masks for attendees as needed, according to the NACo conference schedule.

Food and beverage options such as prepacked meals and grab-and-go service will be provided for attendees.

Besides the pandemic forcing to cancel last year’s conference in Orange County, Florida, a couple of changes for this year’s conference will feature smaller sessions and several informal “meetups” to hold moderated discussions on housing, the environment and other topics.

“We have a lot to talk about after this pandemic,” said NACo spokesman Paul Guequierre. “These county leaders have been on the frontline of this pandemic for the last 18 months. It’s so exciting we are coming back together now.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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