- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A new director of economic development will start work July 16, Charles County government announced Tuesday.
Kwasi G. Holman of Washington, D.C., former president and chief executive of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., has banking, small business, legislative, policy and marketing experience, according to a county news release.
In a Tuesday interview, Holman said his focus likely will be on retaining and attracting businesses to Charles County.
“In general, I want to talk to the commissioners, staff, businesses and citizens and find out what their priorities are, but certainly business retention would be a key issue I would be concerned about, as well as attracting the kinds of businesses that the county is looking for. And certainly there’s a strong technology base, a military base, excellent housing and recreation,” Holman said. “… In general, marketing your strengths as well as a focused attraction program has been the way I’ve handled those kinds of challenges in the past. When I worked in Prince George’s County we had similar challenges and I think, certainly the county government wants to move forward and I want to be a part of that change.”
The Charles County government news release credited Holman with attracting companies and jobs during tenure at Prince George’s County government from 2004 to 2011.
“He led the initiation and implementation of a retail outreach program that attracted Wegmans, a major regional supermarket chain, and one of the largest private companies in the U.S. His work with PGEDC included establishing a $135 million initiative to assist local and minority companies with contracts, and spearheading efforts to create $48.6 million in private investment and more than 1,500 jobs,” the release states.
Holman was forced out of that job by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D), according to a March 15, 2011 article in the Washington Business Journal.
“There was a change of administration,” Holman said. Baker had replaced former county executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who was sentenced to prison in a corruption case in December.
Before his Prince George’s County work, Holman was president and CEO of the New York Avenue Development Corp. in Washington, D.C.; executive vice president of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce; executive director of the Ellington Fund, which supports the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington; senior vice-president of the National Bank of Washington; and executive director of the District of Columbia Office of Business and Economic Development
Holman is also a principal of The Holman Group, which gives economic development advice.
During Holman’s tenure at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, membership increased from 250 to nearly 1,000, the release states.
He was the principal legislative affairs liaison for a successful campaign to attract the MCI Center, now the Verizon Center, to Washington, D.C.
Holman is also involved in volunteer organizations, serving as chairman of The Community Foundation of Prince George's County, sitting on the board of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and serving as a junior warden and member of the vestry at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. He is also immediate past president of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. and a former board member of the Economic Development Finance Corporation, the release states.
He holds a law degree from Howard University School of Law, a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, and a certificate in fundraising from The Fundraising School of the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) welcomed Holman aboard in the release.
“As we continue to make economic development a high priority as a board, it is important to have someone in this position who values and understands the challenges of the private sector, as well as how county government works," she said in the release. “Mr. Holman brings experience from both arenas, and has the experience necessary for success.”
Kelly could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Holman’s arrival spells the end of the tenure of acting economic development director Eugene T. Lauer, who will retire Aug. 31, county spokeswoman Crystal Hunt said. Lauer, who is on vacation, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lauer, a former Charles County administrator who took the helm of the Department of Economic Development after its reconstitution in Feb. 2011, said from the beginning that he would hold the department’s top post only temporarily.