Cowlitz Casino Update & Facts
Pete Schultz, Cowlitz Casino Project Manager, and Jim Dougherty from AGM spoke about the Cowlitz Casino at the Main Street Program. Lorna Earl took notes and here are some observations:
- It is scheduled to open (just the casino part) in Spring 2017. The hotel part will follow in Phase II.
- The official name is Ilani Casino Resort
- Work has begun on highway interchange improvements needed t5o accommodate increases in traffic. Other surface street improvements, including roundabouts, are in process.
- They estimate that about 1,000-1,100 new jobs will be created by this project. These jobs (ranging from professional to skilled to non-skilled, full and part-time) will be filled locally for the most part, but preference will be given to Cowlitz tribal applicants (anticipated to be no more than 2%). They anticipate running job fairs to begin the hiring process in September or October of this year.
- Approximately $40 million will be spent annually using as many local vendors as possible to provide food, services, etc. to keep the casino running and customers happy.
- The casino is, in their words, “an entertainment, not just gaming, facility.” They have shared schematics for many restaurants, some shops, an area for large (2,500 seats) show/concert/conference area, plus (of course) lots of gambling areas. No plans are available for the hotel because that is still so far in the future.
- They have a strong commitment to their operation being “a good neighbor” to us. Along those lines, they emphasized hiring local people, making sure that Ridgefield is a place that their customers want to visit by working with us in ways that I’m sure Main Street will be pursuing, and being mindful of the possible deleterious consequences of gambling by funding social programs to help persons with addictions.
- There will be designated smoking areas.
- Probably most interesting to us is their Arts and Education Fund–another form of “good neighborliness” they mentioned. After the casino has been in operation for a full year (so no sooner than April 2018), a panel of casino management people and community members will meet and decide how to distribute 2% of their annual profits to local non-profit organizations.
Please visit their website at www.ilaniresort.com for updates and more information.