Bipartisanship was starkly absent last week at the close of the Maryland General Assembly’s annual legislative session, with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic lawmakers at odds over budget and spending priorities.
But on Monday, Hogan and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) came together in Prince George’s County to celebrate the success of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III — a Democrat — in keeping Thompson Creek Window Co.’s headquarters in the state.
Prince George’s extended a $250,000 loan from its economic development incentive fund to coax Thompson Creek into staying in the county and building a $20 million headquarters. The firm was being courted by Virginia.
County officials helped locate a site for the building in an industrial area along Pennsylvania Avenue and “removed roadblocks” in the permitting and zoning process, Rick Wuest, Thompson Creek’s chief executive, said.
The state pitched in as well, with the Department of Business and Economic Development — under then-Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) — offering $750,000, said David S. Iannucci, Baker’s economic development aide.
County officials say the project will retain and create up to 500 jobs.
Although the agreement preceded his arrival in office in January, Hogan — a former Anne Arundel County real estate executive who says economic development is one of his top priorities — was happy to make the trip to Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony at the invitation of Thompson Creek.
“Your success is our success,” Hogan said. “I decided to run for governor to do just this. . . . I wanted to make Maryland companies be able to grow and expand and create more jobs and opportunities.”
Baker was not at the ceremony; he was in Boston to run in the Boston Marathon. So his chief aide, Nicholas Majett, and others stood in.
“The message is we are open for business, and nothing is going to stop that,” Majett said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in office or who’s present — but what matters is the business.”
Increasing business-friendliness is a political ambition Baker and Hogan share.
They met early in the governor’s new term to discuss the county’s economic development aspirations, including building a regional medical center and beating out Northern Virginia as the site of the FBI’s new headquarters.
Hogan, a native of the county, has signaled support for both those agenda items and also has been receptive to Baker’s other commercial development ideas.
Any shared success they have in boosting the county could have future political implications. Baker, who is serving his second and final term as county executive, has been mentioned as a potential challenger to Hogan in 2018.
But on Monday, at least, that possibility seemed beside the point.
“It’s about jobs, jobs and more jobs,” said Miller, the Senate president, who also used to live in the county. “We’re all Prince George’s people. Politics has no part in this whatsoever.”