Johanna Alonso//June 7, 2022
//June 7, 2022
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 48,000 Prince George’s County residents — more than 5.0% of the county’s population — lost their jobs. But now, Prince George’s County is months away from bringing its employment rate back to pre-pandemic levels, said Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County executive.
Alsobrooks, a Democrat, lauded the state’s recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic on Tuesday morning at the county’s 2022 State of the Economy Breakfast and Address, an annual fundraiser for the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable that hasn’t been held in person in over three years due to the pandemic.
She said that between 90% and 95% of the jobs lost during the pandemic have already been recovered, and she is aiming for the remaining jobs to be back by the end of this calendar year.
Development along the Blue Line Corridor, a 5-mile stretch from Capitol Heights to Largo, will be central to the county’s economic development strategy. Gov. Larry Hogan authorized $400 million in funding to be used to develop the area, which Alsobrooks hopes will become a “new destination for our residents, our region and beyond.”
“Over the next decade, we will transform the Blue Line Corridor into an accessible, walkable, amenity-rich destination with excellent access to transit and plenty of opportunities to enjoy time outside in nature,” she said.
A Washington Post article from April stated that plans for the Blue Line Corridor are still in development and that a timeline and budget for the project are not yet available. The Alsobrooks administration envisions the corridor may include an amphitheater, library, market hall and civic plaza.
The corridor includes FedExField, the current home of the Washington Commanders, although the team is considering building a new stadium in Virginia. None of the funds allocated towards the corridor were specifically set aside for the team’s new stadium, and none of the Blue Line Corridor plans are contingent on the team staying in the county, according to the Post article.
“These projects — and you’ve got to hear me on this — these projects do not depend on the Washington Commanders,” the county executive said Tuesday. The audience responded to the declaration with a round of applause.
Once the Blue Line Corridor is completed, Alsobrooks said, she hopes similar projects can be developed elsewhere in the county, modeled after the Blue Line Corridor’s success.
Overall, the Prince George’s County delegation secured a record $2.5 billion from the General Assembly during this year’s legislative session. In addition to the Blue Line Corridor, funds will be put towards a variety of infrastructure projects across the county.
During the address, which was held at the MGM National Harbor, Alsobrooks also reiterated her support for the Federal Bureau of Investigations to relocate its headquarters somewhere in Prince George’s County. The bureau has been based in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C. since 1974, but the building, which has often been criticized for its Brutalist architectural style, is deteriorating.
Two of the three possible locations for the new headquarters — Greenbelt and Landover — are in Prince George’s County; the third option is Springfield, Virginia. Alsobrooks said the county would be an ideal spot for the headquarters “by any objective measure,” and that placing the headquarters in Greenbelt or Landover would help “balance the federal jobs in our region as a matter of equity.”
Along with Alsobrooks, other Maryland lawmakers, like Sen. Chris Van Hollen, have also pushed for the FBI to make Maryland its next home base.
Other key focuses for the county in the coming years will be affordable housing, education and health care. Several new health care facilities, including a first-in-the-county behavioral health center, have opened recently, providing access to high-quality care for the county’s residents. The county is also currently in the process of opening nine new schools in hopes of addressing increased enrollment and aging facilities.
“Our county is at an unprecedented crossroads,” she said. “One where the investments that we make in our community have tremendous value and our ideas about our county, our vision, have the power to become real.”l