Thousands Attend P.G. County Career Showcase

Job Prospects at National Harbor Casino Draw Crowd

Joshua Garner | 6/25/2014, 3 p.m.
Thousands turned out for a career showcase at Bowie State University to get a sneak peek of employment opportunities at ...
MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren talked with participants as MGM National Harbor hosted a "Career Showcase" with MGM Resorts executives and employees sharing insights on the coming employment and career opportunities available at MGM National Harbor Thursday, June 19, 2014, at Bowie State University in Prince George's County. Sharon Farmer

Thousands turned out for a career showcase at Bowie State University to get a sneak peek of employment opportunities at the planned resort and casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill.

During the event, officials from MGM National Harbor shared information about the jobs coming to the development, which is looking to hire and train for 4,000 positions.

“The idea is to spend time with potential employees – it’s really eye opening,” said Lorenzo Creighton, president of MGM National Harbor.

Though no job openings are currently available, the showcase attracted about 2,000 people on June 19. Ushered into large presentation rooms, potential employees had a chance to talk with representatives from MGM to get an idea of the types of jobs that would be available when the casino opens in 2016.

Creighton said hiring for the casino could start within the next six months. Once complete, MGM National Harbor will feature a 300-room hotel, 3,600 slot machines, 140 gaming tables, a 1,200-seat theater, restaurants, high-end retail stores, and a spa.

“We’re going to take our time [with the hiring],” Creighton said, emphasizing that the first hires will be at the executive level.

The showcase comes just days after Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) announced the county had reached a Community Benefits Agreement with MGM National Harbor, which, among other things, establishes a target of hiring county residents and veterans to 40 percent of the jobs at the casino within the first two years.

Still, the showcase drew spectators all hoping to get a sense of the type of positions that would be available at MGM.

“I’m trying to see what MGM will bring to the county,” said Ryan Hunter, 22, of Fort Washington as he waited in line at the showcase. “I’m interested to see what jobs are open.”

Hunter, who is studying information systems at Prince George’s Community College, said he hopes to find technology-related jobs at the casino. Officials at MGM said the company would offer a variety of positions from the executive level down to retail associates. The average salary for an MGM Resorts employee is $60,000, Creighton said.

The prospect of livable wage jobs in Prince George’s County has been a talking point for county leaders who say that the county suffers from a dearth of high paying jobs. During the recession, Prince George’s suffered a greater loss of jobs compared to other jurisdictions in the region and has been slower to regain jobs.

When complete, the casino will generate $40 million in revenue for the county annually and $1.5 billion for the state.

“Prince George’s County has never had an entity make a commitment of this scale in terms of bringing high quality and diverse jobs and contracting opportunities to our residents and businesses,” said Roland Jones, acting director of the Office of Central Services. “We believe that MGM has set reasonable but aggressive targets for employment and contracting.”

Community leaders, too, said they’re pleased with the agreement and its potential impact on employment opportunities in the county.

“It’s a good deal,” said Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County Chapter of the NAACP, who attended the event. “There has not been a company in my 14 years [in the county] that has done that.”

Officials at MGM said the agreement focused on opportunities for county residents.

“This is the most detailed and comprehensive [agreement] we have ever entered into,” said Jim Murren, CEO and chairman of MGM Resorts International.

Residents said they are already reaping economic benefits of the planned casino.

Toya Mitchell, 55, of Fort Washington said her printing and graphic design business, Lord and Mitchell, has been contracted to provide signage for the casino, including events like the showcase.

“[MGM] has impacted my revenue in a significant way – they are a huge client,” she said, adding that she’s been able to hire four contractors for her business since taking MGM on. “My hope is that MGM begins to utilize businesses in the county – we are willing, able, and ready.”