The upcoming $180 million project by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan is expected to generate $15 million in tax revenue and create over 1,500 high-quality and full-time jobs.
Little River Band’s Muskegon County Casino to Drive High-Paid Jobs
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ upcoming Muskegon County Casino project is a boon to the local economy, says Little River Band Chief Larry Romanelli. The project, which has been on the cards since 2008 when the tribe purchased a defunct race track property in Fruitport Township, is considered a “big, big move” for the tribe, citing the amount of work that had to be done to bring the project closer to a realization today.
Romanelli has said that making the project a reality has not been easy, with a few hurdles still along the way. Yet, everything from the financial heavy-lifting to the actual work that needs to be put in has been going smoothly, thanks to an overwhelming bipartisan support for the project, with estimated 90% of voters backing the project.
That is good news, Romanelli estimates, as the casino will create 1,000 – 1,500 high-quality full-time jobs and add 1,500 construction and ancillary positions, he adds. The tribe expects to drive business not only towards the casino, but also send economic ripples across businesses such as restaurants, car lots, and other local businesses creating additional jobs.
The casino project will sprawl on 69,000 square feet of gaming space and feature 1,700 slot machines along with 35 table games. There will also be a 220-room hotel with 600 beds created for visitors. Commenting on the amenities, Romanelli had this to add:
“We will have a food court or venue restaurant, but we will not take over the restaurant business, and our patrons will want to experience fine dining elsewhere. We will have entertainment, but will not compete with the Frauenthal.”
How Big of an Economic Impact?
The touted project is expected to give a moribund region a significant economic leg-up, with the project expected to generate $15 million in tax revenue for West Michigan annually.
The project’s bipartisan support stems from the fact that the Muskegon County Casino has been funded by the tribes and private investment, rather than tapping into precious tax payer’s dollar.
Besides, the project has long been coming. After the 2008 purchase, the tribe submitted an application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) requesting from the organization to place 60 acres of its land into a $180 million casino and economic development project.
A published a preliminary approval in November 2018, which was then subject to public hearing and comment. Before the project can be given a formal go-ahead, though, the BIA has yet to publish a Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
Once again, there will be a comment period with the Federal government issuing a final decision on the application. When this is cleared, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and State Legislature will have to settle rest of the details.
To obtain the FEIS, the BIA looked into potential environmental impacts, including effects on air quality, public health and environmental hazards, waste, noise, and more. The project’s estimated completion date for the entire $180 million casino project is set to three years from now, Romanelli said, citing Little River Band’s position.
Should everything go according to plan, the Muskegon County Casino will be arriving in late 2023 or early 2024.