When Prince George's officials ask members of the Maryland House of Delegates for more money for local projects next year, they hope the delegates will remember the air-conditioned bus tour they took here last week.
County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his staff members played the role of tour guides for the day-long event, which attracted about a dozen members of the House Appropriations committee. They went to the county court house in Upper Marlboro, a housing development in Suitland, Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly and National Harbor on the Potomac River in Fort Washington.
"This tour tells them there is vitality to the county," Johnson said. "As they help us to grow economically, we will contribute more money to the state."
The longest stop was at National Harbor, where the state and county have funded the infrastructure on a swath of riverfront property that is slated to become a large entertainment and convention center.
As the bus headed along a dirt road through the center's construction site, longtime Washington developer Milton Peterson of the Peterson Cos. told the delegates that without their backing, he would not have attempted the project, which is scheduled to open in 2008. Tractors and bulldozers moved dirt on the site and leveled the property.
"As you remember, this project has been started lots of times, but we are going to make it happen this time," Peterson said. "This is the type of project that can't be done by the government alone, and it can't be done by the private sector alone. It is like starting a small city."
Peterson Cos. is spending $480 million to build a shopping and restaurant center and attract hotels. Gaylord Entertainment of Nashville is spending $500 million on a 1,500-room hotel and convention center.
Inside Peterson Cos.' offices near the construction site, Peterson showed the delegates an 8-by-10-foot model of the first phase of the National Harbor project, complete with lights, mini-cars, restaurants and a small flat-screen television.
After the delegates "oohed and ahhhed" at the model, Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George's) said that her colleagues were impressed because "they see they are getting a return on their investment."
Chef Gets Business Grant
Last week, the Women Business Owners of Prince George's County held the group's annual banquet and awarded a $2,000 grant to a member of the organization looking to expand or start a business. The winner was Patrice Savoy of Capitol Heights, who owns Eat Right For Life, a personal chef consultancy.
"I've always loved to cook and to be of service to others," Savoy said.
Savoy, who won the grant after submitting a business plan to the women's group, said she plans to serve her clients by planning their menus, doing their grocery shopping and meeting with them biweekly to cook in their homes and freeze enough meals to last for two weeks.
Savoy, 35, decided to become a personal chef after she was unable to work outside the home. She was in four car accidents in the past four years and her injuries prevented the single mother from grocery shopping and preparing meals for herself and her three children.
"I became a captive consumer, and I started looking at others in the same situation," she said.
Savoy said she plans to use the grant to market her business, study to become a master chef and take nutrition classes.