Prince George’s economic development fund boosts a pizza restaurant

October 24, 2012

Prince George’s officials heralded the opening of a new Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Mt. Rainier on Tuesday which is the beneficiary of a $300,000 loan from the county’s new $50 million economic development fund.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has made expansion of the county’s commercial tax base a key goal of his administration.

The jobs that the new restaurant will create are not exactly what Baker had touted when he pushed the County Council last year to set up the fund, a combination of grants, loans and other incentives designed to lure businesses to the county.

Of the 36 jobs at the Mt. Rainier restaurant only six are full-time; none will have health benefits or a retirement plan. And the pay? Well company owner Irfaan Lalani doesn’t want to make that public for fear of alerting competitors, said Angela Wright, spokeswoman for the county’s Economic Development Corporation, which organized Tuesday’s ribbon cutting.

David Iannucci, who is Baker’s economic development guru and a former head of economic development for Maryland, said the loan to Little Caesars is a small piece of the overall plan to boost the county commercial sector but said that it would help revitalize the inner Beltway community. “We filled two empty store fronts,” he said.

It is the company’s third location in Prince George’s, he noted. Overall, Little Caesars is creating 70 new jobs at two new sites, one which opened earlier this year.

Iannucci said there will soon be incentive packages — subject to County Council approval — for IMS, a tech company that is moving some operations from Silver Spring in Montgomery County to Calverton in Prince George’s, and to the Nash Finch food distributor which moved in June from Jessup in Howard County into a former Giant Food facility in Landover that had been vacant for 11 years.

He said the county wants to emphasize higher paying tech jobs, but said the county always will have some incentives for restaurants seeking to open in the county.

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