The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) and their chief Larry Romanelli has been working on plans to build a casino in Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, Michigan. for the last seven years. The fact that it could still take a while to get their plans approved is not deterring them from pushing the project forward.
Just this past week, the tribe advanced their campaign for the casino by filing an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, asking it to take the land into trust for them. This is important as they need the federal government to take the land into trust before they can start building the casino there.
After the land has been taken into trust by the federal government, the Governor and state Legislature must also still approve the casino. After the Department of Interior signs an intent to take the property into trust, they will have to hold public discussion and hearings to discuss environmental, community and economic impact.
Chief Romanelli said that they never expected the project to be easy but that they have never contemplated stopping or taking a step backward. Tribal leaders are especially hopeful of the impact the casino can have in the area when it comes to economic development and job creation. They know that the Governor has been focusing on these areas and think that it may sway him in their favour. Romanelli added that even though the casino won’t solve all their problems, it would really jump start economic growth in the area.
The LRBOI plans to invest $180 million to develop the new casino and economic growth project. They are expecting it to create in excess of 1 200 job opportunities in Muskegon County. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians also own a casino, Little River Casino, on their land in close to Manistee.