By Henry Mortimer, Editor-at-Large
If you think the “E" in CEO only stands for “Executive,” you haven't met Jim Coleman.
As President and Chief Executive Officer — or “Chief Excitement Officer,” as he calls himself — of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the evanescent Coleman serves as the ring-leader of a movement to help attract, retain, and expand businesses in the county.
In fact, he says he agreed to accept the job offer from his friend, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, after hearing of his boss’s to-do list of incentives, programs and resources to help spur economic development in the Washington metropolitan area.
“I signed up because I knew that those were the right things to do to drive a great economy,” says Coleman, who joined the EDC in 2015. “That’s why today everything that should be up is up and everything that should be down is down,” including the addition of 12,000 new jobs and a $5,000 bump in median household income to over $77,000. “The county is poised for continued growth.”
One of the county’s biggest growth success stories to date, he says, is the opening of the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, surrounded by a 300-acre waterfront complex of condominiums, townhouses, restaurants, hotels and retailers, anchored by the Gaylord National Hotel and Resort. Coleman says the development is on track to create more than 3,600 new jobs, “many in the $50,000-plus range,” and will add more than $270 million in tax revenue for the county in its first five years of operation. It is also estimated to provide more than $70 million in procurement opportunity for local entrepreneurs.
“It’s a great corporate partner, a great corporate citizen,” says Coleman, who previously served as Executive Director for Westchester County, N.Y., Industrial Development Agency and Local Development Corporation, and brings more than 30 years of commercial business experience, working with firms such as Oscar Mayer & Co., Pepsi Cola Company, and American Express.
Other projects that broke ground in 2017 in Prince George's County include a new $543 million regional hospital, a number of mixed-use developments sprouting up around the county's five targeted Metro Stations, and a broad-scale strategic plan focusing on four key “hyper-growth, high-wage” sectors: IT, medical and life sciences, professional services and government.
“That’s where we want to go in having the right types of high-wage, high-demand jobs in our county,” says Coleman, adding that, when County Executive Baker took office in 2010, the fastest growing job was a retail cashier.
“That’s a great job, but it’s a good job for younger people who are maybe still in high school," he says. “We want our moms and dads in our community to be able to have good, high-wage jobs so they can take care of themselves, buy a home [and] be able to contribute back to their church and their community. That’s our focus and it’s paying off.”
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