Earlier in the week, Ho-Chunk nation’s proposal to build a $405 million casino in Beloit finally received some positive news as The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs announced that it will review the proposal on August 17th.
This is a significant development as it is a move that was being planned for several years by the city and tribal authorities.
Beloit officials believe that the meeting in Washington, D.C., could act as a stepping stone for the next steps towards the large-scale development. Provided that the bureau gives the nod for the project, it will get listed in the federal register, which will move the approval process forward rapidly according to city officials.
The city officials also said that by keeping the proposal on the federal register it would establish a timeline and formal process. Which would then be followed by subsequent steps involving several public hearings, one of which will happen in Beloit.
The director of strategic communications at Beloit, Sarah Millard, then went on to say that once the public hearings are done, the proposal will be forwarded to the governor for approval.
She also added that once the proposal has been forwarded, the governor will then have one year to make a decision.
Millard also went on to state that if everything goes as per the plan, the Ho-Chunk Nation will start its construction work by 2020.
However, at the time, A representative of the Ho-Chunk Nation was not available for comment.
Aimee Thurner, executive director of the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, said the Aug. 17 meeting “is the first big hurdle” for the casino, which is planned for the west side of Interstate 90/39 near Willowbrook and Colley roads.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson who was attending an event in Beloit last week received many hand-written letters by various city officials requesting him to draft a letter to the Bureau supporting the casino.
In response to this, Ben Voelkel, Johnson’s communications director said via a statement to The Gazette, “This is a decision for the governor and the BIA to deal with, and the senator will respect whatever decision they take regarding this matter.”
As per the development plans it includes building a convention center, a hotel, and an indoor water park. City officials and members of the tribe have also gone on to add that the project could provide employment opportunities for almost 1,500 people and in turn, generate nearly 1,000 jobs for neighboring businesses.
Back in 2013 The city and Ho-Chunk Nation had reached an intergovernmental agreement for building a casino. And a year later in July 2014, the Beloit City Council approved a settlement with local tribes that were restricting Ho-Chunk from moving further with his development plans.