Casino Developer Sees Partners in Berkshire Economy

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Michael Mathis said the company is currently looking for vendors to develop business relationships if and when the casino is built.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — MGM Resorts officials say the Berkshires will play a big role in the success of a proposed $800 million casino in Springfield.

If the company is awarded the single gaming license for Western Massachusetts, the Berkshires are part of the casino's marketing strategy. Additionally, company leaders say they would spend some $50 million with vendors in the region.

Michael Mathis, vice president of global gaming development at MGM Resorts International, was the keynote speaker at the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce's Good News Business Salute breakfast at the Crowne Plaza on Wednesday.

MGM is one of two groups seeking the one license. Mathis said the company sees an opportunity to extend a typical casino trip by a few days by cross-marketing the Berkshires. The proximity of the urban downtown and rural areas in the Berkshires create an experience no other casino can offer, Mathis said.

"We view ourselves with the MGM Springfield project as the headquarters, the tourism headquarters, where we hope people will come and explore the rest of this region," Mathis said. "I think there is an opportunity to have people explore this area when they haven't before. They'll come to this facility and we can extend that normal two- to three-day visit into five-day visit. We'll encourage folks to go out and explore the area."

Additionally the company says they'll be spending $50 million a year with Western Massachusetts businesses.

"We would very much like your help in reaching out to vendors and suppliers in this area," Mathis said. "We are desperately looking to make sure we reach out to this community for business relationships."

The company is awaiting approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission,  the license is not expected to be awarded until next year, but hopes that once awarded the 2 1/2 year construction will start with an opening in late 2016.

"It is an $800 million invest. It is the largest potential private development in Western Mass history. It will create 3,000 permanent employees from the region — 90 percent from the region," Mathis said.

The building will be meet LEED standards and construction materials will come from within a 50-mile radius — meaning Berkshire suppliers have another chance to work with the company. The construction will put 2,000 people to work.

Thomas Leavitt, CEO of Mountain One Financial, saluted four local businesses for the work they've accomplished.

The company already has research estimating that between 150,000 and 200,000 customers would come to the facility six to eight times a year — creating regular clientele.

Those customers are in its database as visiting Las Vegas facilities three or four times each year but who would go to a closer casino.

"This offers a really unique opportunity for us and we're really excited about what we can do in Springfield and what we can do in this area," Mathis said. "We don't have a New England flag."

MGM is a Fortune 500 company owning 19 resorts worldwide — more than half of them are in Las Vegas.

While Mathis was the keynote speaker, the Good News Business Salute also honored Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, New Life Chiropractics, Berkshire Place and Bousquet Resort.

The breakfast was sponsored by Mountain One Financial and Thomas Leavitt spoke about the importance of community banks in reviving down economies. He said the Berkshires are going through a "renaissance" and the bank is ready to play a role in helping to improve the economy.

The breakfast brings the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce members together to network and discuss issues. Also in attendance were state Sen. Benjamin Downing, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi and Dan Johnson, who represents U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.

Tags: Berkshire Chamber of Commerce,   breakfast,   casinos,   economic development,   

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