Local coalition urges governor to sign casino legislation; unions, contractor associations on board
The Rockford Casino Coalition — a newly formed group advocating for a casino in Rockford — recently launched a campaign encouraging Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to sign Senate Bill 0744.
Area business leaders and chief elected officials are calling on Quinn to sign S.B. 0744 noting the importance of job creation and economic development in Rockford, a city hit hard in recent recessions. The campaign’s goal is to demonstrate the community’s collective support and need for this legislation.
John Groh, president/CEO of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) and a member of the coalition, said: “Our coalition aims to speak with a clear, consistent voice. The Rockford region knows far too well the economic realities left behind in the wake of recent recessions. We see a Rockford casino as one element, a tool in our economic toolkit, that we can use to create jobs and grow our region’s economy.”
In addition to the RACVB, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce are also partners in the coalition. The three organizations represent more than 1,500 organizations and their 60,000 employees. Additional coalition members will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
Should Quinn sign the bill, the potential for revenue generation and economic development opportunities in the state and the Rockford area is significant, according to the coalition. Gaming expansion in Illinois would generate an estimated $1.5 billion in up-front fees and $500 million in recurring annual funds for the state. This additional revenue would allow the state to meet its General Fund obligations.
The new construction and operational positions within the actual casino and throughout the local hospitality and tourism industries would significantly boost job creation in Rockford, the coalition contends.
The Rockford Casino Coalition is urging area businesses, organizations and individuals to join the coalition in support of Quinn signing S.B. 0744. In the coming days and weeks, the coalition will continue to offer information showing the significant impact a casino will make as the bill awaits Quinn’s signature. Residents, organizations and businesses are encouraged to
• sign the online petition at www.rockfordcasinocoalition.com,
• visit the group’s Facebook page, Rockford Casino Coalition and
• call the governor at (217) 782-0244 to urge him to sign the bill.
Labor unions, contractor associations voice support for Casino Coalition
Members of Rockford-area unions and contractor associations, representing approximately 15,000 individuals, gathered June 29 to voice support for bringing a casino to Rockford.
Leaders from the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, Northern Illinois Electrical Contractors Association, as well as the local Ironworkers, Sheet Metal Workers, Painters and Laborers’ unions participated in the news conference to support the casino initiative.
The Rockford Casino Coalition, a partnership of the region’s elected officials and business, labor and economic development leaders, continues its campaign to further demonstrate collective support from the region’s citizens and businesses and encourage Gov. Quinn to sign the bill for casino expansion in Illinois.
Comments from labor leaders focused on the casino’s ability to aid the region’s much-needed job creation and economic development. A casino would bring more than 400 immediate construction jobs to build the new facility over 18 months.
The Rockford Casino Coalition kicked off its campaign June 23 with a news conference that drew more than 100 supporters from the community. The coalition was formed by the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce to communicate the community’s collective support for Gov. Quinn to sign S.B. 0744.
The Rockford Casino Coalition was formed in support for the gaming expansion bill (S.B. 0744) and encourages Gov. Quinn to sign the bill. The coalition’s founding partners represent more than 1,500 organizations and their 60,000 employees. For more information, visit the coalition’s Facebook page, Rockford Casino Coalition, or www.rockfordcasinocoalition.com.
Rockford Casino Coalition participant quotes
John Penney, Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council: “This is an opportunity to not only create jobs, but to also bring additional wealth to the community through quality high-paying jobs. Construction jobs are a crucial part of Rockford’s economic engine, and it cannot properly function without the opportunities that are created through building projects.”
Glen Turpoff, executive director of Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association (NIBCA): “Our industries and members would be among the first to be positively impacted by the development of a casino. This is significant, since this group has been especially hit hard by the economic downturn and unemployment that followed. Additionally, our members would benefit as the casino would spur ancillary development projects.”
Jack Battel, executive director of the Northern Illinois Electrical Contractors Association: “The casino expansion is a critically important issue concerning our community’s economic development, which is tied to creating more jobs in the region. The casino would provide our local and state governments with additional revenue to invest in capital improvement projects, thus helping to create additional ongoing jobs.”
Dave Whitmore, business manager at Ironworkers Local 498: “Helping to improve the region’s unemployment rate not only helps out-of-work employees and their families, but it benefits the entire region and state. More people at work means more tax revenues coming in to help balance our city, county and state budgets.”
Dominic Castanza, business manager at Laborers’ Local No. 32: “This is all about job creation. The casino provides an opportunity for our community to really lead and flourish. It also enhances the opportunities to invest in our infrastructure and in our education system, which both impact our economic environment.”
Brad Glidden, Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 219: “The community wealth created by the project going forward cannot be matched. There will be jobs created, both short- and long-term for the casino and additional projects that our members will benefit from. And there will be new revenue coming into our community by visitors who come to the casino, but also stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop in our stores.”
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