What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 42 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 51 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 4 days ago
More in News
Locals eager for casino business climate
OXFORD — The parade of jobs that casino investors promised would march into Oxford County began on Friday, when Black Bear Entertainment (BBE) members held a press conference to announce their first round of hires.
Local businesses are chomping at the bit to ride on the casino's coattails, but critics are unhappy that the first round of hires doesn't include any Oxford County firms.
BBE announced the hiring of a wetland scientist from Winthrop, as well as the business firms Main-Land Development Consultants of Livermore Falls, Maine Traffic Resources of Gardiner, Sweet Associates of Falmouth, and Summit Geoengineering Services of Lewiston.
Investor Jim Boldebrook said that he expects the vast majority of jobs to go to residents of Maine.
"My expectation is 95 percent of the jobs will go to Mainers," he said. "There are very few outside people who will have to come in with specific knowledge of our project."
Local construction hiring
One resident asked about whether the casino's construction phase would include job opportunities for small, local firms.
"How will you, instead of hiring the bigwig excavating company, make sure the little guys in this town get to put their trucks in and make a living with that?" he asked.
"That's a tough question," answered BBE investor Steve Barber. "We really haven't sat down and taken a look at the construction process and how we're going to handle that. But we will be working with a construction manager, and we'll be laying out the project. So I really don't have an answer for you right now. I know we will have jobs available. The question is, are we going to have jobs in our business for independent construction people, and I just can't answer that right now."
Boldebrook invited any jobseekers to go to www.mainecasino.com to indicate an interest in working at the casino, or working with the casino as a business partner.
Boldebrook also announced that the company would open a local construction office at the Oxford Plaza that would be able to give out updates and field inquiries.
Mainers in exile
One common criticism of the casino is that experienced workers would have to come from out of state.
Boldebrook says that this may happen less than previously thought, as he has fielded an "enormous amount of inquiries" from former Maine residents with casino experience.
Investors joked that it would be a program to help "Mainers in Exile."
These people, says Boldebrook, "believe it or not, who were from Maine, who went to places such as Las Vegas and so forth and other casinos, now have said 'I'd love to come back and live in Maine and do what I do,'" said Boldebrook. "So there's going to be a lot of people who actually have experience in those fields who are Mainers .... Some of them have homes here now and they're going back and forth."
Barber projected that the number of jobs at the casino site would be 700 after five years.
He cited an economic impact study by Economics Professor Todd Gabe.
"I've kind of lived the Gabe study for the last few months, so I understand it pretty well," said Barber.
According to Barber, the Gabe report says that the casino will directly hire approximately "700 on-site for gaming and other operations also," and that the remaining 2,000 jobs created by the casino's presence would be seen in off-site hospitality sales and through a multiplier effect.
This is a smaller on-site workforce than Gabe projected in his study.
The Gabe report actually says that the casino will hire about 800 people for its gaming operations alone, and that another 800 jobs will be created in the hospitality industry, some of which would be on-site as part of the casino's non-gaming operations.
The remaining 1,000 jobs would be created by a multiplier effect, according to the study.
Barber and Boldebrook said that it is important to put the number of jobs in perspective.
"I've been in the manufacturing business all my life," said Barber, who is the President and CEO of Barber Foods. "Our company is about 60 years old, and we have approximately 700 people working there. One of the things that attracted me to this project is within five years, we're going to have about 700 people working on site."
Boldebrook said that quibbling over the exact number of jobs missed the point; namely, that a large number of jobs will be created.
"If we create several hundred jobs or 400 or 500 jobs on the opening of this, and then gradually proceed to create more jobs ... and if we're at, say by year two, if we've created 1,500 or 1,800 jobs, I think it's going to have a major impact on the state of Maine," said Boldebrook.
Boldebrook said that the number of jobs might never be known.
"We will never know, probably, for a fact, how many jobs are created by this, because we believe that it's going to affect every industry in the state," said Boldebrook.
Bob Bahre said that jobs creation was the primary reason BBE members invested in the casino.
"The owners group, believe it or not, they're in this for the jobs," said Bahre. "Believe it or not, I naturally want to make money, but I'm not just in it for the money. I'm in it more for the jobs, and you can believe that or not. I get $2,400 a month social security, so I'm all set."
BBE investor Suzanne Grover said that the group is invested in Western Maine.
"We've stayed here, we've raised our children, they've gone, they've come back," said Grover. "So, we're not going anywhere. We're going to create jobs. What we say is what we're going to do .... We're here to say we hope you enjoy what we're going to do."
A ripple effect
As evidence of a positive ripple effect of job creation, investors said that Poland Spring Resort may transform its seasonal operations into a year-round business. Manager Cyndi Robbins estimated that this would create an additional 100 jobs for the remaining six months of the year.
Casino supporter Mark Ferguson said that he hopes to see a big boost in business at the Village Kitchen and redemption center, located just south of the casino at the intersection of routes 26 and 122.
"This is easily the biggest thing that's ever happened to my brother and I for our business," he said. "We've been working at it for the last 14 years. We've very excited about this going through."
"What you're looking at is guaranteed growth in my spot," said Ferguson afterward. "Last year, Poland voted to put in a water and sewer line down to our corner to expand municipal services to promote growth prior to the casino. Adding sewage and water doubled my property value. The casino doubled it again. I'm confident that we'll be able to triple jobs on the one corner that we're working now, and that doesn't even take into account the other [undeveloped] corners."