The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) and their chief Larry Romanelli are moving ahead on their plans to build a casino in Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, Michigan. The build has been in the works for the last seven years but they are still determined to move forward.
In the last week, they filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for an appeal to take the land into trust for them. This is an important step for them as the federal government must take the land into trust before they can build the casino.
Their fight is however not over yet as they still have to get the State Legislature and Governor to approve the casino. After the US Department of Interior signs an intent to take the property into trust, they will have public discussions and hearings to discuss economic, environmental and the impact on the community.
The LRBOI Chief Romanelli said that although building this casino has been tougher than they thought, they are still determined to continue. The tribal leaders are especially hoping that the casino can improve job creation and economic development in the area. They are aware that the Governor has been focusing on these issues and are hoping that it would sway him in the casino’s favour. Romanelli added that the casino would be a big boost to economic growth in the area.
Tribal Council Speaker Virgil Johnson said: “The Band acknowledges this is a long-term investment and we plan to continue to work with the community, state and federal officials to pursue the casino and economic development project to provide much needed jobs and investment in the Muskegon region along with providing revenues to service the needs of our members.”
The tribe is planning to invest $180 million to develop the casino on the site of a former former Great Lakes Downs race track, which should help to create 1200 jobs in the Muskegon County. The casino is planned to be 69,000 square feet, which will include 35 game tables, 1,700 slot machines and a 220 room hotel.