Jefferson casino charity would extend to 6 neighboring counties
Estimated $300,000 annually would flow outside the county to public-minded projects in region
December 11, 2013
Greene County Supervisor Guy Richardson (left) speaks with Carroll Countty Supervisors Gene Meiners (center) and Marty Danzer about the beneifts of a planned Jefferson casino and resort for the region.
Casino plan development
The planned $40 million Wild Rose casino in Jefferson is expected to employ between 250 and 275 people.
A 70-room companion hotel is being developed by Wisconsin-based Cobblestone Inn & Suites. The 20,000-square-foot casino is expected to have 500 slot machines and 14 table games.
Greene County development officials are actively marketing property for related development south of the casino.
Wild Rose Entertainment and its non-profit Greene County partner Tuesday announced completion of an agreement that would boost a planned Jefferson casino's charitable contributions, making an estimated $300,000 available each year for public and charitable projects in neighboring counties.
The West Des Moines-based gaming operator already had committed to contributing 4 percent of its gambling profits - an estimated $1.2 million annually - to Grow Greene County Gaming Corp. for public-minded endeavors within Greene County and among its cities.
The casino expects adjusted gaming revenues of $30 million.
"While this is a Greene County project, the benefits are regional in terms of employment, support for local suppliers and vendors, and new entertainment opportunities," said Norm Fandel, president of Grow Greene County Gaming Corp. "We believe that as a regional project, we should share the non-profit benefits regionally and support projects and charities in contiguous counties."
Wild Rose and Greene County officials made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at the Greene County Courthouse. Carroll County Supervisors Gene Meiners and Marty Danzer were among those who attended the event.
Iowa law requires casinos to give at least 3 percent of the adjusted gaming revenues to their partner non-profits. The state average for such contributions to Iowa's 18 state-regulated casinos is 4.1 percent.
"What Greene County is proposing is distinct and different, and we fully support the effort," said Tom Timmons, president and chief operating officer for Wild Rose. "This is and has been a community-driven project, and we could not be more proud to be part of the excitement."
In order to distribute the funds to neighboring counties, the Greene County charity plans to accept applications. Charity officials say the money will be awarded on a competitive basis - not based on population or an annual split.
Greene County is bordered by six counties - Carroll, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Dallas and Guthrie.
"I think this shows a lot of generosity," said Joe Behrens, local assistance director for Region 12 Council of Governments and a Templeton economic-development leader. "It will definitely be a benefit to the region as a whole."
On Tuesday, the Greene County non-profit and Wild Rose also announced the finalization of a cooperative agreement for development of a casino-and-entertainment complex expected to be constructed on the northwest side of the U.S. Highway 30-Highway 4 intersection in Jefferson. Timmons and Fandel signed related documents in the Greene County Supervisors room at the courthouse.
An application for a gaming license is due Jan. 6 with the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, which is expected to vote on the plan in April or May.
This past August, Greene County voters passed a gaming referendum with 75 percent "yes" votes - the highest margin of victory for a casino-introduction referendum in the history of Iowa. Votes to renew licenses for longtime casinos around Iowa have been higher.
The gaming commission will set a Jefferson site visit and public hearing before the final vote.
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