They’re no longer talking about building an Indian casino in Hartford Township; they’re doing it.
Earth work started quietly last week on the Four Winds North, a satellite gaming facility of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
There was no ribbon cutting, no fanfare, no hoopla to mark the occasion, but significant earth work has already taken place on the 297-acre casino site.
“We didn’t figure that we need to do a big splash, we’ll have a very nice grand opening,” Tribal Chairman Matt Wesaw told NewsCenter 16.
“You know the fanfare is really the opportunity to create some more jobs for not only our people but for the citizens of the Hartford area, both the city and the township,” Wesaw added.
Although the heavy equipment was idled on Thursday by rainy weather, the job creation has already started.
A construction crew of ten is working on the site right now. It’s expected to grow to about 15 next week when utility work begins.
“It was a shock that they decided to move so fast, but I think it's a blessing,” said Martin Teresko, who owns land nearby.
“Just a great thing to see that there’s job creation coming to the Hartford area. In Michigan, everyone is hurting for jobs and this is a good start,” Teresko added.
When completed in late 2011, the casino is expected to create 250 to 300 new permanent jobs.
The Hartford Township facility will be about one sixth the size of the Four Winds in New Buffalo, and will be the first facility owned and operated by the tribe.
“This will be a very good test for us to see how well we can be, because if we fail it’s our fault. I don’t think that's going to happen but we have nobody to blame,” joked Wesaw.
The design of the casino building itself hasn’t yet been finished so work this fall will be limited to leveling off the pad, and outlining some parking lots, so crews can hit the ground running next spring.