Group wants to bring casino to Benton Harbor - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Group wants to bring casino to Benton Harbor

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A Michigan group wants to build 7 casinos throughout the state, and has hopes to bring one to Benton Harbor.

"Michigan is Yours" announced these intentions at a press conference in Romulus today.

Before any action is taken, the group may need to get approval from Michigan voters, as well as federal and state officials.

Right now the casino plan is a long-shot, but does Benton Harbor even want a casino?

Residents and business leaders have split opinions.

"Without beating around the bush I think the #1 issue is jobs.  That's what I'm looking at, jobs.  If it's going to bring 1200 or 500 jobs, then I'm for it," said Victor Harper.

Harper has lived in Benton Harbor his entire life.

During that time, Harper has seen a shift from industry-oriented jobs to tourism along the lake-front.

"They've been developing the Great Lakes for 20 years.  And Benton Harbor is probably one place they forgot to develop or waited to develop until now.  We're at the point now where we've got to do something," Harper said.

But some say a new casino wouldn't be a fix-all.  There are already casinos located in Southwest Michigan.

St. Joseph and Benton Harbor commerce representatives are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I think that the casinos have had real good success so far. I'm afraid if we exploit and have them every 15-20 miles, I'm not sure as many people would come and I don't think we'd see the same boon.  Now that we're getting more and more and more of them they are starting to become like a Wal-Mart," said St. Joseph Today Executive Director Tyanna Weller.

Benton Harbor's residents acknowledge this concern, though Anthony Marcus Jackson feels bringing in a casino would be a positive step for the city.

"The casino coming in, it could bring other businesses and other entrepreneurs in to making investments in the community as well," said Jackson.

Regardless of whether a casino actually comes to Benton Harbor, Weller says it's a good sign that businesses want to locate in the area.

"We're starting to get on the map.  We've been a hidden gem for so long.  We want to make sure that people can find us and it's nice to know that they're starting to see that we're here," Weller said.

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