MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — In Muskegon County there's growing support among elected officials for a proposed casino project at the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack.
The project proposed by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians could create 1,500 construction jobs and 1,500 full-time jobs if the casino and hotel complex is built. The proposed 60-acre site is land the tribe owns along I-96 and South Harvey Street in Fruitport Township.
The project has support from both Democrats and Republicans on the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners.
"This is going to revitalize that entire part of town," said Muskegon County Board Chair Susie Hughes. "When it does that it revitalizes all of Muskegon."
On Tuesday, the commission pasted a resolution supporting the project. The letter of support will be forwarded to the Bureau of Indian Affairs which is collecting public comment on the casino proposal until the end of November.
The board's action is a sign of growing and broadening support for the casino in Muskegon County.
"Muskegon, I think, is excited for it," said Hughes.
Republican State Representative Greg VanWoerkom provided 13 ON YOUR SIDE the following statement Tuesday:
"I have been actively watching the progress of the potential casino in Fruitport Township at the federal level. As the next phase turns to the state level, I am ready to work with both the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Governor on an agreement that works for Muskegon County and the state of Michigan."
Democratic State Representative Terry Sabo is also in favor of the project and the potential boost to Muskegon County's economy it would result in not only during, but after completion.
"Putting people to work in a county that has one of the highest unemployment rates right now in the state of Michigan, that's a big deal," said Sabo. "I do believe that there's support for that."
Republican State Senator Jon Bumstead voiced support for the project in October. "When you're talking those types of good jobs and how it will benefit the malls, the city of Muskegon, the city of Muskegon Heights, this is huge," said Bumstead.
Fruitport Township's board passed a letter in support of the development, as did other neighboring municipalities like Norton Shores since the project was proposed.
Following the close of public comment the Bureau of Indian Affairs could send the project forward by passing it on for state-level approval.
Opposition at the state level is expected from three other Michigan tribes who also have casinos, and don't support the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians building a second casino.
The tribe's existing Little River Casino Resort is about 95 miles north of Muskegon near Manistee.
The proposed gaming and economic development at the Fruitport Township site would include:
- Approximately 69,000 square feet of gaming floor space
- 1,700 slot machines
- 35 table games
- 220-room hotel
- Event and meeting room space
- Dining and entertainment options
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