New Andrews facility could boost economy in Prince George's, officials say
2,400-worker building part of ongoing BRAC boom at military base
Business and county officials look forward to tapping the economic development potential of Joint Base Andrews' newest facility, which will boast 2,400 workers when it reaches capacity in late July.
The Camp Springs military base last week hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication for the William A. Jones Building, which was constructed within 19 months as part of the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure program. The building is named for Air Force Medal of Honor recipient Col. William A. Jones III, whose two daughters attended the March 22 dedication. Coakley Williams of Gaithersburg and CDM of Cambridge, Mass., worked on the project.
"This represents the first wave of people moving in from BRAC. These are high-paying jobs, and there's very few facilities on the base to accommodate them," said M.H. James Estepp, president and CEO of the Greater Prince George's Business Roundtable. "If we play this right, it could be a huge economic opportunity."
Estepp lauded the opportunities for housing developments around the area and for entrepreneurial people who recognize the base's potential.
"Prince George's County's already strong federal presence is enhanced by this new project," Scott L. Peterson, spokesman for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), wrote in an email to The Gazette.
"It builds on the many assets that the county brings to the regional economy, including proximity to the nation's capital, a skilled workforce, and great transportation and communications infrastructure," Peterson wrote. "It is consistent with County Executive Baker's focus on expanding the local commercial tax base, and is a welcome addition to Prince George's County economy."
Nobody from Baker's staff was at the dedication, although several local mayors, a representative of County Councilman Mel Franklin and state lawmakers did attend.
The Jones Building will bring in 1,500 tenants from outside Air Force agencies, plus 900 workers who will be shifting from elsewhere on the base, said Eric Sharman, spokesman for Andrews.
He said the incoming workers could present opportunities for neighboring communities, especially small businesses. The base has a commissary and retail store for personnel, some restaurants and a food court, Sharman said.
Estepp emphasized that the Jones Building is just a piece of the nearly $1 billion in construction under way at Andrews. Other projects include a new secure conference center, a temporary lodging facility and a runway replacement.
"We haven't had a project like this in south county aside from National Harbor," Estepp said. "They don't get any bigger than this."
Andrews also plans to open its charter school, led by Imagine Schools, next year. The school will host as many as 650 students, with about one-third from non-personnel families, Sharman said.
"This charter school is going to get people to think twice about locating in Virginia or other areas," Estepp said.