The incoming Bowie City Council has its eye on technology-oriented economic development and incoming Mayor Tim Adams said he would like to see more cyber security businesses in town.
“Too many good citizens in Bowie get in their cars every day and drive to Fort Meade and NSA and D.C.,” Adams said. “It’d be great if we could make sure they didn’t have to drive, and they could work those jobs from here. Because we have no lack of talent in our city.”
As far as talent is concerned, Adams will be joined by three new council members with backgrounds that complement that vision. At-large member Ingrid Harrison is an outreach manager at the county’s workforce development arm, Employ Prince George’s. District 4 Councilwoman Roxy Ndebumadu leads a team at Microsoft that helps federal customers adopt and manage digital innovations. District 3 Councilman Adrian Boafo is the campaign manager for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and has worked on Capitol Hill.
Adams leads a large Department of Defense contractor, Systems Application & Technologies, Inc., which he founded three decades ago working from the trunk of his car. The company has hundreds of employees in multiple states, and its customers include the county’s office of information and the Board of Education, as well as Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington.
He said jobs in the cyber security sector will create revenue as well as opportunities for young people in the city. He said that he also wants to work with Bowie State University to create opportunities there. He is a former chair of the Bowie State University Foundation, which provides scholarships for students.
Harrison said youth workforce development and getting young residents to work and stay in the city will be a priority for her. She wants to expand existing city services like the free Bowie Workforce & Life Skills Development & Training Program for residents 15 to 25, which is offered in the spring.
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“I want to see more young people working and living in the city,” she said.
Ndebumadu said her team at Microsoft works with governments in the U.S. to scale various technologies to fit what they need. In Bowie, she sees an opportunity to use technology to understand the city’s bandwidth for residential growth, and for making city services more convenient.
She also says technology has a role to play in law enforcement by increasing transparency and connections with youth. One specific proposal she has backed is taking advantage of subsidy programs offered by companies like Ring, the electronic video doorbell, as a way to fortify the community. The Bowie Police Department is one of a number of Maryland agencies that has partnered with the brand to allow police to access photos and videos from the doorbells, creating an informal network.
Regarding the city’s economic future, Boafo has his eye on the fate of Bowie Town Center at the heart of District 3, as well as attracting restaurants and higher quality retail so wealthy Bowie residents will stay in town to shop.
“I think the biggest thing we’ll have to answer is what happens to the Sears,” Boafo said.
Boafo said the city is poised to mimic places like Atlanta, where he recently visited as part of his graduate studies at American University.
“We talked a lot about tech, about black tech, and what the future of work is going to look like and how (Atlanta) is shaping itself to prepare for that,” Boafo said. “I think Bowie should be doing the same thing. As the largest municipality in Prince George’s County there’s an opportunity to really take the city to the next level.”