Several hundred vendors who are seeking a role in the casino and resort development proposed for Prince George’s County gathered Sept. 27 at two vendor information sessions sponsored by MGM Resorts International.

“I need you to prepare. Preparation will meet opportunity. Prepare now!” Gerri Harris, director of contract administration for MGM, told the crowded room at the Camelot, a conference center in Upper Marlboro, Md.

MGM Resorts International, which has proposed MGM National Harbor, is one of three companies vying to operate what will be Maryland’s sixth casino. The other two are Penn National, which spent $40 million dollars last year in a failed bid to defeat casino expansion in Maryland, and Greenwood Racing.

“Were confident that we have the best proposal,” Lorenzo Creighton president of MGM National Harbor told the AFRO. The estimated cost is $800 million. Company officials said the proposed complex would create 4,000 permanent jobs

“And those positions are good paying positions,” said Creighton, with “an average pay of about $60,000 per year. These are good jobs and a great environment in a great location.”

The project would include 3,000 slot machines, 250 table games, a luxury hotel restaurants and entertainment venues. The proposed site is in Oxon Hill about a mile from Gaylord National Harbor. In addition to the permanent jobs, it would mean 2,000 construction jobs.

And that’s why Michael Bryant of Celestial Concrete Construction was at the morning session pressing the flesh and exchanging business cards. As owner of one the largest minority contractors in the region, Bryant is hoping to get a huge chunk of the concrete pie. “And I have the capabilities of doing a project like this,” he said. In fact, Bryant’s company poured the 1.2 million square feet of concrete at the Gaylord National Harbor Convention Center.

After Creighton and his team made their individual presentations, they hosted break-out sessions, where vendors could pass on their information and ask questions.

“This is a company that will bring good middle class jobs to Prince Georges County.” It will allow our members…to be able to put that money back into the economy, to be able to buy a house, to be able to send their kids in college,” said Samuel A. Epps IV, political director of Unite Here Local 25.

The union represents 6,000 hotel workers in Prince George’s County, Northern Virginia and the District. Epps says MGM National Harbor has already signed an agreement of understanding with Unite Here and three other unions.

Local 25’s members are food and beverage workers, cooks and chefs, housekeeping, or as Epps likes to say, “We have from bellman to the back of house.”

B. Doyle Mitchell, president of Industrial Bank, says he attended the session because MGM has made “a commitment to use local and minority vendors and services.”

“It’s good business. It’s good business for us, its good business for MGM, they seem like the right company and they seem very good at following through on their commitments,” Mitchell said.

Monte’ Pr’Out is the chief information officer of IQue Technology, a company which deploys, manages and maintains IT systems. “What I did learn was how to communicate with MGM Resort, which I think is important. I saw some key figures that I think I’ll end up shaking hands with, sitting down having dinner and lunch with.”

Dorothy Wilson and her husband, former Prince George’s County councilman Floyd Wilson, Jr. operate a company aimed at helping people promote, start and expand their businesses. They came to get a sense of how the project was moving along. Dorothy Wilson said she’s confident this proposed casino will be beneficial to people of color. “There are a lot of minority people here who own their businesses and this will help their businesses to grow.”

When all is said and done, Creighton said, if it wins the bid, MGM National Harbor will add $42 million dollars in tax revenue annually to P.G. County.

The casino license is expected to be awarded in December.


Byron Scott

Special to the AFRO