The Gazette Maryland Community News Online Tuesday, May 3, 2011 Radio One leaving Prince George's for Silver Spring Media company has been in Lanham since 1997 by Lindsey Robbins | Staff Writer
Radio One, a staple of the Prince George's business community for almost 15 years, is joining the ranks of other major employers that have left the county, including Merkle and Integral Systems.
The media company, whose headquarters have been in Lanham since it moved from Washington, D.C., in 1997, has signed a six-year lease in Silver Spring. Radio One, with its hundreds of employees, will occupy 20,000 square feet in the Atrium of the 14-story Station Square, according to Moore & Associates, the Bethesda management company that owns the building, which also houses company offshoot TV One. The move is expected in September.
"It's always a loss when a major company moves out of the county, particularly Radio One with its communication capabilities," said M.H. Jim Estepp, president and CEO of the Greater Prince George's Business Roundtable. "We're hoping the county's new economic team will be able to stem that tide."
Integral Systems, a $178 million satellite provider, moved from Lanham to Columbia in 2009. The previous year, database marketing agency Merkle, a $150 million company, also moved from Lanham to Columbia.
Estepp emphasized that Radio One's departure has been in the works for some time, since 2007 when the company openly began flirting with the idea of moving back to Washington.
"A lot of times it has to do with expansion and the incentives provided," he said. He referred to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III's plans for a $50 million Economic Development Incentive Fund that would provide money for just this purpose, as well as business attraction.
Baker's administration also will be more focused on staying in close contact with existing businesses to ensure the county is doing what it can to meet their needs, said Angela Wright, communications director for Baker (D). She said this focus, which will include more site visits, should help the county address concerns early on.
Estepp said the county needs to focus on learning what attracts businesses to Silver Spring and seeing if it can duplicate that.
Radio One officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The state offered Radio One a $400,000 conditional grant to remain in Maryland, provided the company spend $1.25 million on the move by the end of 2012 and maintain at least 210 full-time employees throughout the six-year lease, said Karen Glenn Hood, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
"We don't want to lose those jobs. We did what we could to keep them here," Hood said.
Montgomery County also offered Radio One some economic incentives to move to Silver Spring, but officials are withholding comment until the lease is finalized, said Steven A. Silverman, the county's economic development director.
Prince George's offered a comparable incentive package, Wright said.
Radio One settled on the new location after a regional search for a spot that could house both itself and TV One, said Vince Coviello, executive vice president of Moore & Associates.
TV One renewed its lease on the 10th floor of the Silver Spring building, he said.
Radio One has recently become the majority owner of TV One, after increasing its ownership interest to 50.9 percent, according to a company statement.
"We always thought we were in the running. We're happy they chose us," Coviello said.