Baker crosses to Montgomery to hunt for businesses and make new friends for Prince George’s

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III dodged hailstones in Upper Marlboro, the Prince George’s county seat, and made his way to the Montgomery County conference center just off Rockville Pike. His goal: to promote Prince George’s.

Baker is, of course, careful to say that stepping up economic development in his county will not only benefit Prince George’s residents but the entire region, even though the rivalry between Montgomery and Prince George’s is deep-seated and long-standing. Baker says he is eager to ignore the boundaries that have often separated the adjacent Democratic bastions.

And, as his frequent visits to Annapolis on the county’s behalf this winter showed, Baker knows a lot of people whom he can enlist.

For Wednesday’s night’s foray, Baker was the guest of former Montgomery County planning board chairman Gus Bauman, now a land-use lawyer and still a power player in the county. The event was the countywide chamber of commerce’s annual dinner.

Along with about 800 others at the packed dinner, Baker got some time to make the rounds, meet with other local politicians and try to make some new friends in the business community. He wants to attract developers, businesses and government agencies to Prince George’s, especially around underutilized Metro sites.

“It was a great opportunity,” said Bauman of Baker’s visit. Also at the table: Montgomery’s planning board chairman, Francoise Carrier; Don Hague of Home Properties; Baker’s longtime backer, David Hillman of Southern Management, a major apartment owner in Prince George’s and throughout the region; Bob Spaulding of builder Miller & Smith; and Hilary Goldfarb, who recently joined Bozzuto, which is based in Prince George’s.

Some good news that Baker could promote: Prince George’s recently got the final upgrade it wanted from a Wall Street rating house last week.

Fitch, whom Baker had visited in New York in his first weeks in office this year, agreed last week to upgrade the county’s bond rating to AAA. The company joined Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, which bestowed the prized rating on Prince George’s before Baker took office.

Baker called the ratings in a statement last week a “clear signal” that Prince George’s is a good place to do business.

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