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As software company grows, P.G. officials work to keep it

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

Prince George's County officials are moving to make sure that D.C. and Virginia keep their hands off one of the county's economic success stories as it outgrows its Beltsville headquarters.

About 700 of software company Vocus' 1,200 employees work in its main building in Beltsville. Vocus has been in Prince George's since its inception 15 years ago, but company executives are worried that an upgrade might be necessary sooner rather than later.

"We thought this would last three or four years," said Steve Vintz, executive vice president of Vocus and the company's chief financial officer. "But in one year, we were out of space." The company bought another building across the street to hold an additional 150 workers -- it's going to open in November and be out of space in December.

County officials say they're committed to keeping Vocus around as its growth continues.

"This is an extremely high priority," said David Iannucci, a member of County Executive Rushern Baker's economic development team. "We want people to understand that Prince George's County has a great work force and an outstanding location."

That location was one of the major reasons Vocus decided to settle in the county, first in Lanham and then at its current location between Route 1 and Interstate 95 in Beltsville. Vintz said that keeping the company in Prince George's allows the company to draw employees from across Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District. But scarcity of parking and lack of public transportation in Beltsville have become major issues -- especially for the company's young work force.

"Those people want to work in urban areas," Vintz said. "They don't want to get in a car and drive to Beltsville."

Iannucci said the county is putting together a team to meet with Vocus and discuss the short-term problems while looking for a more permanent location for the company.

Vocus is committed to its current space through 2020, but that hasn't stopped executives from speaking with D.C., Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Virginia officials about possibly relocating in the future, Vintz said. He added that staying in Prince George's, however, remains the company's ideal goal.

"It's a great local story," he said. "We would like to be here."

Rick Rudman, chairman, president and CEO of Vocus, is eyeing the Glenn Dale Hospital, a former tuberculosis sanatorium that has been shuttered for decades, as a location that would allow Vocus to build a full corporate campus and continue adding hundreds of jobs in the county. Iannucci said the idea was "fascinating" and the county is going to do environmental work to find viable uses for the location, which is off Route 450 in Glenn Dale.

"They obviously have incredible growth plans and vision," Iannucci said. "We want to make sure they're here forever."

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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