Last week the citizens of Prince George's county scored a historic triumph. In announcing the selection of National Harbor as the home of Opryland Potomac, Gaylord Entertainment and the Peterson Companies ensured the emergence of Prince George's County as a peer of the other economic powerhouses of this robust region.

The project contemplated is the biggest single private capital investment in the history of Maryland. In fact, with projected area of more than 2 million square feet and construction costs expected to top $550 million, this hotel and convention center rivals anything in the mid-Atlantic region--in scope and in quality.

Folks may tease and tickle our pride because of the name, Opryland, but there is no serious dispute by anyone who's seen the Nashville facility or those going to Florida and Texas that we just landed a whale of a deal.

For years Prince Georgians have sought the upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities that our neighbors have taken for granted. Finally, they will be here, and in abundance. Opryland alone will have thousands of square feet devoted to boutique shoppers and several exquisite restaurants. But that's just a start. There will be more than a 100,000 square feet of retail with development immediately adjacent to the hotel.

And this is just the opener. The Gaylord proposal uses only a fraction of the land at National Harbor. The balance remains to be embellished with more dining, performance and shopping attractions sought for later stages. Starting with such an impressive acquisition certainly augurs well for development of the rest of the site. In addition to the millions and millions of additional tax revenues for our community, it will also yield a harvest in jobs and ascending career ladders that befit our aims respecting the new economy.

As a good corporate citizen, the Peterson group has pledged to make our policy goals part of its commitment. In addition to income we can use to further our aims in education, public safety, transportation and economic development, we'll get broad support for the nurturing of local schools, boys and girls clubs and university internships, and a new business incubator to nourish the growth of our local and minority business enterprises. And these approaches will extend far beyond construction to the operations of the immigrating companies as well.

The benefits of this magnificent property overlooking the Potomac River are manifold. As our population grows we will be better able to serve its unavoidable demands. Living under an inflexible tax cap, we must aggressively grow our economic base to court a bright future. This development will have far reaching and lasting benefits for all Prince Georgians and everyone in the region. They will far outlast my administration, leaving a legacy of prestige and progress.

In light of all this, to our new neighbors, benefactor and partners in progress, I say simply: Howdy. Welcome to your newest hometown.

--Wayne K. Curry

is Prince George's County executive.