Updated March 14, 2018, 8:05 p.m.
UPDATED: BELOIT, Wis. (WIFR) - The city of Beloit inches closer to seeing a Ho-Chunk Casino come to the area as city leaders learn about the project and its economic impact.
Ho-Chunk officials spoke to the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation Wednesday about updates to the $405 million project. It would include 300 rooms, five restaurants, an employee child care facility and a 40,000 square foot indoor water park.
Ho-Chunk officials say they want to incorporate several local businesses in the casino's construction.
"Anything that can be built, even the food and beverage, are there local restaurants that want to expand or looking to get in front of more people? We'd love to hear from those folks we'd love to see what their product looks like and there's potential for them to be in the casino," said Ho-Chunk Nation Public Relations Officer Collin Price.
The casino is expected to create 1,500 full-time jobs. The project is being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. The city hopes to break ground in the next couple of years.
Posted December 21, 2017, 10:50 p.m.
BELOIT, Wis. (WIFR) -- Beloit and Ho-Chunk Nation leaders have talked about a casino coming to the area for about a decade. Now that project is another step closer to becoming a reality. City leaders held a press conference Thursday to explain the economic impact this casino could have on Beloit.
"This is a potential game-changer for our local community and the impact is dramatic," said Lori Luther, the Beloit City Manager.
Luther, along with other Beloit leaders and Ho-Chunk Nation, unveiled the newest portion of their casino project that's been in the works for years. They're working to create a destination site for travelers with a family-friendly atmosphere with this new expansion.
"It is far more than a casino; it is a hotel, and convention center and a 40,000 square foot indoor water park. So, for those of you like myself with children, that's a very exciting concept to have right in our backyard," said Luther.
This facility will have an estimated 2,200 slot machines, 300 rooms in its 4-star hotel and 5 shops and restaurants. Ho-Chunk leaders believe this expansion will bring opportunity and a major economic boost to the region.
"We know that if we can bring a casino here that it would definitely enlighten the community, the City of Beloit, and the surrounding communities with employment and different facets of gaining revenue," said WilfrId Cleveland, the President of Ho-Chunk Nation.
The facility will be located west of I-90, between Colley Road and Willowbrook Road, according to the plan.
"We are uniquely located with our interstate access, so we think this is a great location for individuals in the Chicagoland, coming into Wisconsin. We would be a destination and a stop along that traveling path," said Luther.
This project is estimated to cost around $405 million, but city leaders say it has the potential to create 1,500 direct jobs, plus an additional 2,700 indirect jobs for the region.
"We think that there will be an influx from South Beloit and the remainder of Rock County, and potentially beyond," said Luther.
Ho-Chunk Nation visited Washington D.C. this year to encourage the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs to move the project along.
"It looks very promising and with these visits, that progress is going to be made moving forward with this casino," said Cleveland.
The project is in review by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, which will hold public hearings before making a decision. City Leaders believe that vote will not happen until at least the end of 2018. If it's approved in D.C., the draft will go to Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, who will make the final decision.
This project is supported by both the Beloit City Council and the Rock County Board. The city hopes to break ground in 2020 and open in 2021.