The North Carolina development has broken ground on the addition of a third hotel tower, part of a $663 million expansion that is scheduled for completion by 2012.  The end result of the project will make Harrah’s Cherokee the largest hotel in North Carolina once the tower and it’s 532 units is completed.  The expansion plans will also double the casino floor.

The loan for the construction was secured prior to the credit crisis and the downturn in gambling revenues.  Just last year, Harrah’s Cherokee had laid off 100 people after the casino traffic plummeted by 15%.  This year things seem to be looking back up slightly with business down only 10% and not expected to get worse.  They’ve even re-hired 20 of the laid off workers so far.

Representatives of both Harrah’s and the tribe have said that the expansion will put them in the best position to take advantage of when the economy turns around.  The top elected official of the tribe, Principal Chief Michell Hicks, said that he was proud to see the largest construction job in North Carolina nearing the finish line.  He credits the casino for bringing a better life for his people.

“The standard of living has definitely improved here in Cherokee,” he said. “We have not only accomplished that for ourselves but for the region. And we are proud of that.”