Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan delivered his first State of the State Address. He painted a very grim picture of the relationship between the State of Maryland and the business community.
Four years ago, I took over as the county executive of a jurisdiction that had been devastated by the lingering effects of the Great Recession in the form of the crash of the housing market and high foreclosure rates, dramatic job losses and a badly damaged reputation. Due to our heavy dependency on residential taxes, I knew that we needed to diversify our revenues in order to rebound from this crisis and better position Prince George's County to grow its economic base.
We heard complaints from businesses about the snail-pace process for permitting, the lack of vision for growing businesses and the cry from residents for more upscale retail options. We proceeded with a sense of urgency to change the climate. Our focus was on creating jobs and expanding the county's commercial tax base.
So what did we do? We created our Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDI Fund) in partnership with the County Council. This unprecedented $50 million local economic development program has approved projects that will leverage $17 million in county funds into more than $300 million in private investment, growing or retaining almost 3,000 jobs and giving a great boost to our commercial tax base.
We revamped our permitting process and created a new agency, the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement. This new agency has enabled us to streamline permitting functions and make them more timely and predictable. We created a new Prince George's County Economic Development Strategy that provides a roadmap for growing those business sectors already seeded in the county and which have the greatest promise for expansion and high wage jobs.
This strategy builds on some of the unequaled resources already present, including the flagship University of Maryland, NASA Goddard, NOAA, Joint Base Andrews and other unique assets. We worked to target new development around the county's 15 Metro stations with initiatives and focused incentives, specifically prioritizing the five stations with the greatest promise for successful Transit Oriented Development (TOD).
We have worked to bring in large private sector development projects that will spur greater economic activity. These are just some of the $6 billion in development now underway after four years of sustained, hard work: the $1.2 billion MGM Resort Casino at National Harbor, the $600 million first phase development of Westphalia near Joint Base Andrews, over $650 million in economic development projects along our Route 1 corridor between Laurel and our shared border with the District of Columbia, the new $100 million Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor as well as two natural gas fired power plants.
Furthermore, with the help of our state and congressional partners, we are coordinating an aggressive strategy to take advantage of a historic once-in-a-generation opportunity to relocate the FBI headquarters and its 11,000 federal employees in Prince George's County, a project that if successful will singularly rebrand and reinvent the county's economy. We are also working hard to make the Purple Line a transportation reality.
In the face of a difficult headwind caused by the slow national recovery from the recession and local challenges caused by the federal shutdowns and sequestration, we have stabilized our local economy, our housing market and our jobs base.
Our partnership with the state has been grounded in the notion that a stronger Prince George's County leads to a stronger Maryland. The state's investments in public safety and education have played a significant role in shaping our resurgence. Our efforts to reduce crime to its lowest levels in 30 years and improve the performance of our schools are important components of our strategy to make Prince George's County and Maryland more attractive to businesses and residents.
From my point of view, Prince George's County is one of the best examples of what "business friendly" looks like in Maryland. We hope the governor supports our efforts, and we look forward to continuing our success in the county and throughout the entire state.
Rushern L. Baker III is the Prince George's County executive. He was elected in 2010 and re-elected to a second term in 2014. Previously he served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1995-2003. His email is CExecutive@co.pg.md.us.