- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

David J. Byrd received the Champion for Minority Business Award last month. Though his government career spans three decades, he says he was surprised by the honor.

“Receiving this award was a surprise to me,” Mr. Byrd said. “It’s a great feeling to be recognized by people outside of the county. I feel it’s important not only for my work, but for the good work that we are doing here to foster opportunities for small minority business.”

Mr. Byrd, 50, is Prince George’s County’s deputy chief administrative officer of governmental operations and environmental services. He and his wife, Jacquelyn, live in Upper Marlboro.

The Maryland Business and Consumer Resource Directory and bmorenews.com recognized Mr. Byrd’s dedication and public service to minority business for the metropolitan area at-large on Sept. 18 at Velleggia’s restaurant in Baltimore.

Mr. Byrd has spent 30 years in executive management positions in local, state and federal government. Before joining the county, he served as chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele, Maryland Republican.

Before the latter appointment, he oversaw the New Jersey Office of Small Business. While there, he also planned and developed the state’s multicultural travel and tourism initiative. He reorganized the Office of Small Business to serve as an advocate for entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

He was the associate commissioner for external affairs at the Social Security Administration from 1994 to 2001.

County Executive Jack B. Johnson appointed Mr. Byrd as deputy chief administrative officer in April 2006, and since then, Mr. Byrd has played a role in many of the projects developing around the area.

“I am proud to have David spearheading governmental operations and environmental services for my administration,” Mr. Johnson said. “His incredible zeal and energy for managing multiple agencies and projects is truly an asset to the business community of Prince George’s County.”

Major projects in which Mr. Byrd has been involved include the Woodmore Towne Centre, Konterra Realty and National Harbor.

National Harbor has the ability to create about 13,000 jobs for Prince George’s County, he said, and as the community blossoms, there is an expectation to generate $1 billion in taxes over the next three decades.

“We are really getting a lot of convention business that will be arriving,” Mr. Byrd said of National Harbor. “I am working on a strategy to go after minority convention and meeting business. If we can bring some of those functions to our area, it will be a huge boost that will continue to sustain for years to come.”

The growth of National Harbor is enabling not only the business and community to prosper, but also the residential area.

“National Harbor is a wonderful project,” Mr. Byrd said. “Phase one is complete, and now we are talking about phase two. We will have the National Children’s Museum and Disney arriving as well. We have residents moving into condominiums, so it’s not only a place to visit.”

The Konterra Realty project is a $3 billion joint-venture development with Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises to be built on more than 1,400 acres in the Baltimore-Washington corridor in an area that will straddle Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The Konterra Town Center will include 5.3 million square feet of retail and office space, 4,500 residential units and a 600-room hotel. It is scheduled to open in 2012.

A $500 million project, the Woodmore Towne Centre is a 245-acre mixed-use development that will feature 700,000 square feet of retail, 1,100 residential units and two hotels/conference centers. The project will be anchored by Wegmans Food Market, which Mr. Byrd said is expected to bring 700 new jobs to the county.

“We expect Woodmore Town center to be a signature property much like National Harbor,” Mr. Byrd said.

• Odell B. Ruffin is a freelance writer and photographer living in Prince George’s County.

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