U-Md. Boosts County's China Connection

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2005

Prince George's County is strengthening its ties with China, thanks in large part to the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

A delegation of students, faculty and staff members from the school recently returned from the country after hosting an entrepreneurship competition. In fact, the school's frequent exchanges with China have prompted County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and members of his staff to visit the Asian country later this month.

Earlier this year, executives from China's Shandong Province visited Prince George's as part of an executive training program at the Smith School. The two executives became informal residents at the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp.

There they learned about the county's economy and visited local service and technology businesses. Last month, the Chinese businessmen signed a memorandum of agreement with Prince George's pledging that they would try to encourage trade between China and the county.

"China is a very huge market, and many, many American companies have made investments in the Shandong Province," said Yan Zhaowan , deputy director of the Shandong Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. "We are talking about economic cooperation, not politics."

Smith School officials say that China is the most exciting market for the next century. Its ties to the country also include an executive master of business administration program, offered in Beijing and Shanghai.

Eisenberg to Head Group

The Hyattsville Community Development Corp. recently hired its first executive director. Stuart Eisenberg , a former Hyattsville City Council member, will lead the group as it tries to bring more art-related businesses to the city and spur economic development. The community development corporation, launched five years ago, has tried to revitalize Hyattsville, which is part of Prince George's County's Gateway Arts District.

Athlete to Open Eatery

Brian Mitchell , a native of Louisiana and former Washington Redskin, is planning to open a cafe in Largo early next year. The 13,000-square-foot restaurant, to be called Brian Mitchell's Crab Cafe, will be located at the intersection of Arena Drive and Route 202.

Other professional athletes with eateries in the county include Reggie Williams , former Georgetown University and Denver Nuggets player and owner of Reggie's Sportz Kafe in Bowie; and former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson , whose development company has investments in several Starbucks Coffee shops in the county as well as in a movie theater.

Minority Business Day

The National Capital Minority Business Opportunity Committee -- a Prince George's-based group funded by the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency to help minority-owned companies find contracting opportunities -- is holding its annual development day Oct. 12 at University of Maryland University College in College Park.

The event is intended to link local businesses with major corporations and developers. Representatives from such projects as National Harbor, the District's new baseball stadium and the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative are expected to attend the fair.

All three projects are seeking qualified minority business owners, said Sophia Nelson , a spokeswoman for the committee.

Last year, more than 250 minority-owned businesses were represented at the event. For more information, visit http://www.ncmboc.com .

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