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BIZ 'E' ONLINE


GREATER PRINCE GEORGE’S BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE


Zone One

COMMUNITY FORUM

April 8, 2004

The Zone One Community Forum, sponsored by the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable and hosted by the City of Greenbelt, was held on Thursday evening, April 8, 2004. The localities invited to participate in this forum were: Adelphi, Beltsville, Berwyn Heights, Bladensburg, Cheverly, Chillum, College Park, Edmonston, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Langley Park, Mt. Rainier, New Carrollton, Riverdale Park, University Park and the surrounding areas.

The community based forum was the first in a series to be scheduled at various sites across the county. Intended to provide an opportunity for participants to engage in an open discussion of issues that will shape the economic future of Prince George’s County, the event proved a most successful vehicle for “possibility thinking.”

Gathered in the City of Greenbelt Council Chambers, Greenbelt Mayor Judith Davis officially welcomed the attendees and expressed her support for the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable and its efforts. Commenting on the current local business scene, Mayor Davis provided her official insights. In contrast, reflecting on the city’s history, Greenbelt Museum curator Katie Scott Childress told the story of the community’s past, rich in significance regionally and nationally. A prime example of the county’s growth and economic evolution over the years, clearly the city of Greenbelt proved a most appropriate site for the Roundtable’s Zone One Community Forum.

Addressing the Forum, GPGBR President and CEO Jim Estepp introduced Roundtable Board Members Gary Michael (The Michael Cos.) and Jason Groves (Verizon). Each shared their ideas as to the overall mission of the Roundtable, acknowledging how this forum and others to follow would contribute greatly to its achievement. Subsequently, attendees listened as Mr. Estepp conducted the forum agenda and provided an overview of the purpose. Throughout the evening, Mr. Estepp served as the forum facilitator, posing key questions, encouraging innovative ideas and inviting the participants to voice their opinions and concerns.

Highlighting the mission of the GPGBR, Mr. Estepp stated that developing VisionFramework 2004®, a strategic vision and economic development model that defines economic prosperity for Prince George ’s County is a Roundtable goal. As explained, attaining the goal will require reaching out, and listening, to our greater Prince George’s community. Serving as a vehicle for the sharing of ideas among business, government, public safety and civic leaders, will enable the Roundtable to incorporate the valuable insights necessary to craft a viable and promising VisionFramework 2004®.

As the forum proceeded, an open discussion ensued.

The Forum participants were asked to identify “markers” which, in their estimation define a prosperous/visionary community.The responses were as follows:

  1. Growth and Change
  2. Planned density, residential and commercial
  3. Quality Educational System
  4. Vibrant Sense of Community
  5. Security and Safety
  6. Partnerships
  7. Public and private sectors working together
  8. Stability of Quality of Life
  9. Ease of Mobility
  10. Access to Resources and Services

Next, the attendees were asked to list and prioritize, ranking as to the areas of most critical need, those issues that will weigh heavily on the future of Prince George’s County. If the county is to expect a bright economic future and attract new businesses, what needs to happen?

Resoundingly, the Forum participants ranked the issues as follows:

1. Crime
    The realities of crime in Prince George’s County must be effectively addressed. If we are to expect to draw new members into our community or retain our current business and residential base, the culture of crime must cease. The various levels of law enforcement and government, along with community leadership and the business sector should join together to put an end to both the reality and perception of crime in Prince George ’s County. The consensus being that current individual agency efforts aren’t succeeding.
   
2. Education
   

The public school system within Prince George’s County has experienced numerous problems and, consequently, its overall reputation regionally and statewide is not good. In order to attract businesses whose employees would hopefully seek to reside in Prince George’s County, the assurance must be that the educational system is one of quality and high standards. Every effort must be made to establish productive partnerships between the public and private sectors to help resolve some of the critical issues facing our public schools. Individual communities should support their neighborhood schools, seek to provide “in kind” assistance when possible. School authorities must be encouraged to seek and retain top notch teachers and administrators throughout the school system. Such efforts (and successes) should be well recognized.

   
3. Changing Demographics
   

While we recognize and take pride in the cultural diversity that is Prince George’s County, we aren’t meeting the needs of a multi-lingual community. Economically, the effective engagement and consideration of everyone is essential to our
overall success. Working to eliminate existing language barriers is a must.

Also, appreciating that a significant portion of the county’s residents are seniors is important. Greater emphasis should be placed on “age appropriate” programs that focus on quality of life issues including housing and transportation.

Commuter concerns continue to negatively effect Prince George’s County and the entire Washington region. Support should be given to projects that provide the opportunity for county residents to be employed within the county, at first class business facilities. The need to spend hours commuting between home and work, limiting family and leisure time, fighting the endless lanes of traffic congestion, can be eliminated if viable alternatives are offered.

   
4. Government Access
    The need for better intergovernmental communication between the various county agencies is acknowledged throughout both the residential and business communities. High on the list of complaints is unnecessary government duplication. Government policies regarding business are often so confusing and time consuming that prospective entrepreneurs are hesitant to even consider a Prince George’s company address. Everyone agreed that county government should focus on a “unity of purpose.” The common goal of working together to enhance the quality of life for all Prince George’s County should be foremost. And, if we are to pay for our quality of life enhancements, we need to guarantee a solid commercial revenue base. The community would like to see less “politics” and more “business” from their government officials.

 

 

In conclusion, the forum consensus was that we all need to work together and be willing to facilitate real partnerships that can make a difference. If the vision for Prince George’s County is to be one of true success, it will require cooperation and commitment from everyone. The possibilities await! So, does the work. . .

 

Adjourning the Forum, Mr. Estepp assured the participants that the opinions and ideas expressed were not only appreciated at the time, but would contribute greatly to VisionFramework ®

Interested in the possibility of future GPGBR community forums and related activities, everyone welcomed additional opportunities to get together and share ideas.

 

GREATER PRINCE GEORGE’S BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE

 

 

Zone One COMMUNITY FORUM

 

Thursday, April 8, 2004

City of Greenbelt Municipal Center

Greenbelt , Maryland

 

 

ATTENDEES

Judith Banks-Johnson Chillum-Rav Association
Brian Barge Golden Barge Enterprises, Inc.
Robert Barge Golden Barge Enterprises, Inc.
James Booth City of Mt.Rainier
Dorothy Camer Carfree Mobility
Liz Casto GPGBR
Katie Scott Childress Greenbelt Museum
Judith “J” Davis Mayor, City of Greenbelt
M.H. Jim Estepp Pres. / CEO, GPGBR
Walter Ficklin Town of Bladensburg
Jason Groves Verizon
Anne Harter GPGBR
Patricia Hayes-Parker Pr.Geo.Cty Economic Develop. Corp.
Aruna Jain Gazette Newspapers
Frances Jones Beltsville Glass
Bernie Karns Calverton Citizens Association
Marcia Krasnick Councilmember Hendershot’s Ofc.
Raymond Krasnick  
David Merkowitz Pr.Geo. Businesss-Education Alliance
Harvey Maisel Maisel-Hollins
Gary Michael The Michael Companies
Jose` R. Morales BOE
Louis Rogers Maryland Job Service
Greta Scott Councilmember Harrington’s Ofc.
Patricia Smoot State’s Attorney’s Office
Terrance Taylor Congressman Hoyer’s Ofc.
Jerry Thomas  
Charlina Watson Town of Bladensburg

 


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