By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE – The city will be among the communities to receive an annual payment from MGM Resorts International to help pay for any negative impacts the casino based in Springfield’s South End might create.
How those funds will be used in Holyoke is still yet to be decided, according to Mayor Alex Morse.
“Obviously it can help relieve some annual pressures on the budget,” he told Reminder Publications.
Morse announced on Jan. 13 that Holyoke will receive $50,000 after the casino opens in Springfield and then over the following 15 years will receive $1.275 million.
Morse said city officials would be taking “a hard look” at how those mitigation funds could be allocated for the maximum results.
Morse also that MGM has agreed to hire “hundreds” of Holyokers for jobs at the casino. When asked how many, Morse said the number would be 300 residents. He added the jobs would be at “all different levels.”
So far, Holyoke the only non-abutting community to be voluntarily named a surrounding community in MGM’s casino.
“Although the casino is not coming to the city of Holyoke, there is no doubt that we will be affected by one in our backyard. I am pleased with the results of these negotiations, as they will benefit and protect the interests of Holyoke’s residents, business owners, and the local economy. This agreement would not have been possible without the hard work of City Solicitor Heather Egan,” Morse said.
Mike Mathis, Vice President, Global Gaming Development, MGM Resorts, said, “Throughout all of our surrounding community discussions we have worked hard to get the best result for the region so Western Massachusetts can regain its urban core. Holyoke is a city we looked at early on as a regional partner. After several meetings with Mayor Morse and his team it became clear that the designation along with a strong and fair jobs agreement was the right course of action for MGM Springfield and for Western Massachusetts. We believe an MGM Springfield and Holyoke collaboration will benefit the entire region.”