In Wisconsin, the first expansion since the original hotel was opened in 2014, on Thursday, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino officially broke ground on its second tower. The $80 million project will add 119 rooms to the Forest County Potawatomi Community-owned and operated casino’s capacity, bringing its room count including both hotel towers to 500.

At the press conference hosted inside one of the hotel and casino’s restaurants on Thursday, Rodney Ferguson, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino CEO and emcee of the proceedings, said, “This expansion marks another example of growth in Potawatomi’s footprint here in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley,” according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Ferguson added, “Since opening up the bingo hall on a snowy day in March more than 26 years ago, this property has grown and made a profound impact in areas of entertainment, tourism and economic development in Milwaukee and the surrounding region.”

The 19-story hotel will reportedly house additional meeting space and a spa and will increase the size of the Menomonee Valley property by 180,000 square feet, making it Milwaukee’s second-largest hotel, according to BizTimes Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett reportedly said the expansion was an easy one to support. Barrett said, “The fact that you came to us and in essence, let us know that this was something that was going to move forward without city tax dollars and without the need for any zoning changes and any transferred land is music to the ears of any mayor.” He said, “It makes it obviously something that is very doable and something that’s very important,” according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Ferguson, meanwhile, stressed the owner’s commitment to the nearly 3,000 workers employed by the casino, 60 percent of whom are reportedly from diverse backgrounds, which is represented by the continued expansion.

According to the news agency, Ferguson noted that a local and minority hiring requirement will be in effect for the new tower’s construction, where minority-owned businesses will receive a minimum of 20 percent of the contracts and at least 25 percent of those working on the expansion project will be Milwaukee County residents.

The contractor for the construction of the second tower is Gilbane Building Company and spring 2019 is reportedly targeted for the hotel’s opening.

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