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Editor’s note:

M.H. Jim Estepp, president and CEO of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable and the Andrews Business and Community Alliance, will provide regular commentary in the Andrews Gazette on local events, plans, legislation and other issues impacting--and impacted by--business around the Joint Base Andrews community. Have a question about local business issues? Email and include “Business Briefs” in the subject line.

Andrews Working Group Report

Imagine a revitalized corridor outside the gates of Joint Base Andrews with pedestrian-friendly access to restaurants, shops and entertainment, just a few minutes away. This could become a reality as the Prince George’s County Executive’s plans for the area take on a life of their own.

When Rushern Baker took office two years ago as the county’s top elected official, he visited JBA with the county’s Economic Development team and myself. During that visit he committed to appoint an Andrews Working Group to take an in-depth look at what county Government should do to help make JBA one of the most attractive bases in the country for recruitment and retention and for the creation of economic development opportunities that would serve Andrews, the surrounding communities and those businesses desiring to be in close proximity to the installation. In the process the county would include the area in it’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, known as TNI.

This program focuses resources and a plethora of agencies, working in tandem to create visually appealing neighborhoods boasting good schools, safe streets and a high quality of life. The working group recently finished its work and presented an action plan to County Executive Baker. JBA Vice Commander, Colonel Greg Urtso, represented Andrews on the group.

Recommendations include improving transportation in the area by requesting state funding for several projects adjacent to JBA through official communication from the County Executive to the Maryland Secretary of Transportation and other appropriate state and federal elected/appointed officials. Significant improvements would be made to some of the following roadways: Allentown Road at Suitland Road intersection/JBA Main Gate; Pennsylvania Avenue at Dower House Road; Old Marlboro Pike; Forestville Road ramp at Rt. 495 intersection and Old Alexandria Ferry Road at Virginia Gate.

In addition, significant streetscape improvements along Allentown Road would be completed, including landscaping. Of tremendous importance to the area, planning would begin for the longterm extension of the Metro Green Line to JBA.

The AWG Plan calls for extensive collaboration and strategizing of ways to promote future Base Realignment and Closure-related expansions at JBA. Adding to the mission of the installation through Congressional action would be a priority over the next several years if the county gets its way. Prince George’s County would prepare a redevelopment plan that includes land use; cost; and possible financial assistance to those businesses wishing to enlarge, renovate and comply with any adopted redevelopment requirements.

Other recommendations will vastly improve the corridor alongside the base. These improvements would not only be aesthetic, but eventually would help to transform both JBA and the broader community into one of the region’s most viable and healthy economic hot spots. Job creation, greater access to services, housing and entertainment would be at the core of these efforts.

The AWG is but one of the latest examples of how the Andrews Business and Community Alliance, an affiliate organization of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, helps support the mission at JBA and the men and women who serve in our nation’s armed forces. Working collaboratively with the installation and the state and county, the Alliance was also instrumental in the establishment of the outstanding Imagine Andrews Public Charter School which recently opened a new and modern elementary school building on base with enrollment already at capacity. The school is fast emerging as a model for U.S. military installations.