LARGO — The Prince George’s County Office of Central Services (OCS) held its inaugural Construction Industry Day, where they announced $100 million in new construction opportunities around the county that county-based small and minority construction business owners can bid on June 27.
To expand small and minority businesses and promote diversity in procurement practices, OCS announced 14 upcoming construction projects throughout the county as well as step-by-step assistance that business owners can take advantage of in navigating the process on bidding on contracts.
According to OCS Director Jonathan Butler, a new day has arrived in Prince George’s County when it comes to embracing small and minority businesses.
“We will be intentional, and we will be deliberate, we will be muscular in terms of utilization of county-based small and disadvantaged businesses,” Butler said. “Now is the time to really grow and build capacity at the fine level, thereby truly and significantly impacting local economic development now and for the future.”
Butler described a variety of upcoming construction projects throughout the county such as the Shady Glenn Fire Station and Cadet Training Building in Capitol Heights, a 28,000 square foot facility that will cost about $12 million.
Also in public safety, Butler announced a plan to demolish and rebuild the Hyattsville Fire Station and the construction of a new Public Safety Building at the National Harbor. Additionally, a $25 million Forensic and DNA Lab for the police department is in the works and will be a conversion of the existing building in Lanham.
There are a couple of library projects in the pipeline. The Surratts-Clinton Library will receive a $5 million renovation turning it into a “21st-century facility” with a modern look, Butler said. The Bladensburg Library, a $13 million project, will be completely rebuilt. Currently, the small library is only 7,000 square feet, but the new version will be expanded to 21,000 square feet.
The Wayne K. Curry Administration Building will receive significant upgrades beginning with the conversion of the second floor into chambers for the county council, and the third floor will be turned into offices for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
The county is also planning for a Department of Public Works and Transportation Maintenance Facility in Brandywine at the cost of $12 million and a Prince George’s Men’s Shelter House to be built in Capitol Heights to provide shelter and training for homeless men. According to Butler, it will also include computer training and a clinic that will cost $12 million.
There will be a Medical Office Building for the Department of Corrections at the cost of $12 million, a demolition and rebuild of the James H. Taylor Academy for the Circuit Court at $25 million and a Public Safety K-9 Complex at $2 million. All three will be located in Upper Marlboro.
“It is important to us to do business with the people who are here, who live here, who have invested here, who have put roots down in Prince George’s County,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks during the event.
This is where the opportunities are, she said. Since taking office, the county executive has made it a priority of hers to grow and expand small and disadvantaged businesses within the county.
Like Butler, she emphasized the importance of being intentional about expanding opportunities for business owners that are already in the county and allowing them to plan for how to bid on these opportunities.
“We just had another cycle where Prince George’s County has created more jobs than any other county in the state,” Alsobrooks said. “We did that for four of the last five years, and we are just really proud of the jobs that we are creating and the opportunities that are here.”
In addition to hearing about the upcoming construction opportunities around the county, those in attendance also had a chance to learn about the essentials of procuring contracts such as the certification process, county vendor registration, financial support, and bonding resources and strategies.
Prince George’s County Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Compliance Manager Mirinda Jackson said the event was a great opportunity for business owners to come together and learn. She said that “information is power” when it comes to growing a business.
“The one good thing about the meeting is they came out with opportunities in advance, and it’s always to the business community’s advantage when they know about opportunities in advance as opposed to 30 days so they can prepare for them,” she said. “To know about these opportunities in advance and prepare for them.”
Hensel Phelps Manager of Supplier Diversity David Fisher said he came to the meeting to gain insight into upcoming procurements the county is developing for the next few years and to network with key procurement agencies and other figures in the business.
Having worked with general contractors in Prince George’s County and bid on a handful of projects on the past, Fisher said he has had a good experience working in the county so far, but there are a few different factors that go into how each experience might play out.
“The process has been smooth depending who you’re working with, depending on who controls the money,” he said. “Whoever controls the money makes it either a short process or an extended process. But we love working in the county. They have a great demographic and qualified business contractors to work with.”
Ruthie Mundell, director of outreach and education at Community Forklift, said she found the event to be a helpful learning experience as well.
As a nonprofit, Community Forklift works with the construction industry by taking donations of surplus and salvaged building materials. As a “home depot version of the Goodwill,” they take them to their warehouses and sell them cheaply as a way to create green jobs for returning citizens and people with barriers to employment.
“It was tremendously useful, I was thrilled that the county put this on and that they were kind enough to invite us,” said Mundell who came to network and find out how to reach out to the contractors working in the county.
“It was a good mix of getting an overview of what the county is doing and their plans and then also to get to meet people.”