Compiled by MCJ Staff
The Milwaukee Urban League is asking the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to take a closer look at the impact a proposed $1 billion off-reservation Kenosha casino will have on Milwaukee’s minority community.
The organization claims a new casino in that city, which is 25 miles from Milwaukee, would lead to job losses, which would hurt minorities in Milwaukee particularly hard.
The Menominee Tribe, sponsors of the proposed casino, have committed to hiring residents in Kenosha and Racine counties first and second respectfully for any jobs at the casino. Milwaukee County residents would be third in line for employment opportunities.
The federal government recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which analyzes the impact the proposed casino may have on the community and region.
However, according to the Urban League, the FEIS fails to properly examine the impact the project will have on Milwaukee and its minority community.
“It appears the Bureau of Indian Affairs has not taken into consideration any impact this gaming project will have on minority communities in Milwaukee as part of its environmental justice review,” said Ralph Hollmon, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League in a recent letter to the BIA.
The letter, sent by the League and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, reveals Potawatomi Bingo Casino is one of the largest employers of minorities in the Milwaukee-area.
Of their 2,600 employees, 53 percent are minorities and men, and 84 percent of their employees reside in Milwaukee County.
In addition to employing a large number of minorities, Hollmon noted the Forest County Potawatomi Community annually provides millions of dollars in revenue sharing to the city and county of Milwaukee.
The revenue sharing helps fund crucial programs that benefit the minority communities of the state’s largest city.
“Coupled with the additional millions of dollars in charitable funds the FCPC provides, the overall positive impact the FCPC has on Milwaukee area minorities is immeasurable,” Hollmon said.
Hollmon stressed the Kenosha casino’s impact—if built—would be significant and disproportionately negative, adding there would be a further erosion of minority employment opportunities since PBC vendors will also be imparied. The Kenosha casino was first proposed by the Menominee Tribe in 2004. After originally being rejected by the federal government in 2009, the project is now getting a second review. In addition to obtaining federal approval, the project would also need the approval of Gov. Scott Walker.