After Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson's news conference last week announcing his five-year plan for economic development, Michelle Lamb Moone stood outside the administration building, smiling.
As the new chairwoman of the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce, Moone said she believes that the plan could bring about much-needed change. It also could help push the chamber back into the spotlight. Under Johnson's plan, the group would play a larger role in the county's business development, she said.
"I think it is very exciting," said Moone, who is president and chief executive of the human resources consultancy Productivity Partners, LLC. "It is a wonderful time for the chamber to be involved."
The chamber will help the county develop programs to aid small businesses, assist the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation in its project to visit the 200 largest employers in the county, and help the Prince George's Financial Services Corporation develop a program to teach people how to build wealth. The chamber will also help to develop a curriculum for a continuing education program for local chief executives that will teach them skills such as how to get bonding, how to apply for loan programs and how to build their brands.
After listing off the chamber's new tasks, Moone joked: "I hope I have enough time to run my business."
Indeed, the chamber will be busy. The 81-year-old organization is also at an internal turning point. In the past few years, it has faced competition from small, upstart chambers in Prince George's targeting small and minority-owned businesses.
Additionally, the chamber's president and chief executive, Wendi Williams, stepped down in December. During her five-year tenure, Williams worked to increase the chamber's political power, inviting the county executive, County Council members and others to chamber functions. She also hired a lobbyist to advocate for business issues on behalf of the chamber.
Last month, Kathleen Smith accepted the position of president and CEO and has begun to lead the chamber's staff. Smith had operated her own nonprofit management and ethics consulting firm and was a faculty member at Goucher College in Towson, Md.
Big Plans for Konterra
Teltronic, a Montgomery County wireless communications company, will move its corporate offices from Rockville into the Konterra Business Campus in Beltsville. The deal was first reported in the bi-weekly Prince George's Newsletter on real estate development.
Teltronic, which was started in 1961, acts as a consultant for businesses and federal, state and local governments buying wireless services. The company signed a 12-year deal with Konterra for a 12,000-square-foot space. The Konterra Business Campus is now 94 percent leased, according to the newsletter, and Konterra will now begin planning another building for the large north Prince George's development.
At a news conference last week, County Executive Jack B. Johnson said he is eager to see Konterra's planners begin the residential phase of the mixed-use project. It is slated to include three developments with homes starting at $500,000. Plans also include a large regional mall on more than 200 acres.