Rushern Baker III. Photo: Edward Kimmel/Wikimedia Commons

While President Donald Trump beats the drum for Made in America, Rushern Baker III, the elected leader of a predominantly African-American county neighboring Washington, DC, is a true unsung hero for bringing Chinese foreign direct investment and high-paying new jobs to the United States.

While only the elected official of a county within the State of Maryland, Prince George’s County Executive Baker is feted as much as a governor of a large American state on his numerous trade missions to mainland China.

The former military lawyer was even seated next to Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the United States in September 2015 with then president Barack Obama.

Chinese companies and investors have aggressively pursued Prince George’s County, recognizing that it is one of the most lucrative early growth markets in the developed world, but Wall Street remains largely ignorant of the dynamic economic growth taking place in US African-American communities

In fact, Baker is preparing to lead a trade delegation of Prince George’s County companies to South Korea in October 2017 after launching the historic Purple Line public-private partnership (P3) and building the US$1.4 bn MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) casino and convention center at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County has already become one of the fastest-growing local economies in the United States as it harnesses its expertise with rapidly expanding small to medium-sized businesses in the healthcare, cybersecurity, IT, and renewable energy sectors.

Chinese companies and investors have aggressively pursued Prince George’s County, recognizing that it is one of the most lucrative early growth markets in the developed world, but Wall Street remains largely ignorant of the dynamic economic growth taking place in US African-American communities.

County Executive Baker – the second most powerful politician in Maryland after Republican Governor Larry Hogan – pushed through the largest new public-private partnership investment in the United States, the US$5.6bn Purple Line light rail project connecting the affluent white suburbs of Bethesda to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

In fact, Baker and real estate tycoon turned governor Larry Hogan have a close working relationship, which is partly due to Hogan growing up in Prince George’s County, where his father served as a Republican member of Congress.

The Paris-based Meridiam leveraged its vast experience of major infrastructure projects in Africa and Europe to take over the financing and financial control of the US$5.6bn P3 project, Meridiam founding partner and CEO Thierry Deau told Capitol Intelligence/BBN in an interview.

Meridiam is uniquely positioned to benefit from Trump’s plans to invest US$ trillion in US infrastructure via public-private partnerships along with other infrastructure funds such as Australia’s Macquarie, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.

Another major win for Baker was the completion of Las Vegas-based gaming and hospitality MGM Resorts International flagship US$ 1.4 bn MGM Resorts hotel at the National Harbor. 

A source close to the matter said Chinese mainland and Macau investors put in between US$300m to 400m of the US$ 1.4bn gaming resort, with the outside financing organized by French investment bank Credit Agricole.

The founder and chairperson of RadioOne (NASDAQ: ROIAK) , Catherine L Hughes, also became an investor in MGM Resorts National Harbor and is the first African-American co-investor in an MGM Resort property in the company’s history.

Baker’s ability to bring significant investment to PG County was evidenced when he hosted the US Commerce Department’s SelectUSA Investment Summit with then president Obama and over 1,000 foreign companies and 2,500 delegates at National Harbor in the Spring of 2015.

Other Select USA keynote speakers included Carlyle Group co-founder and CEO David Rubenstein, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, and Japan’s Suntory Holdings LLC President and CEO Takeshi “Tak” Niinami.

At SelectUSA, the delegation from China was the largest, and probably the most aggressive, foreign group represented at the investment summit with over 200 delegates and all personally hosted by Baker.

The upcoming trade mission to China and South Korea will allow Baker to perfectly triangulate the strengths of Chinese and South Korean businesses investing in the United States.

South Korea, a close US military ally and free trade agreement partner, can fully exploit Prince George’s emergence as the headquarters of the world’s cybersecurity industry thanks to its proximity to the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, the University of Maryland in College Park and the nation’s capital.

The delegation is scheduled to travel to the giant South Korea Public Procurement Expo (Koppex) in Seoul before signing a friendship agreement with Cheonan City, located 50 miles south of Seoul.

Copyright of Capitol Intelligence Group – Turning Swords into Equity®

Peter K Semler is the chief executive editor and founder of Capitol Intelligence. Previously, he was the Washington, DC, bureau chief for Mergermarket (Dealreporter/Debtwire) of the Financial Times and headed political and economic coverage of the US House of Representatives and Senate.

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