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OUR WORDS: Caesars is right for Danville
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OUR WORDS: Caesars is right for Danville

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Between the two of us, we have called Danville home for more than 90 years. We have lived through the economic ups and downs and seen the resilience of this community firsthand. It is where we each want to be.

When others have counted Danville out, we — along with so many others — have believed brighter days were just around the corner. From the arrival of major employers like Morgan Olson to the revitalization of the River District to the recent recognition of Danville as an All-American City yet again, our region continues to move in the right direction.

With this fall’s casino gaming referendum, city voters have the opportunity to keep this critical momentum going by bringing a world-class resort to Danville, making our community a destination for millions each year. We urge our neighbors to join us by casting an enthusiastic “yes!” vote when filling out their ballots.

If this referendum is successful, Caesars will invest at least $400 million at the old Dan River site in Schoolfield, building the Caesars Virginia casino resort that will feature at least 300 four-star hotel rooms, 35,000 square feet of conference space, a 2,500-seat live entertainment venue and a state-of-the-art spa, plus multiple restaurants and bars. These are amenities local residents can enjoy and which will attract visitors from out-of-town and out-of-state for multi-day stays in our City. Area businesses will enjoy the opportunity to supply the resort with a variety of goods and services.

With a project like this, Caesars Virginia will be a major employer in our region, creating 1,300 ongoing jobs (not to mention 900 construction-related jobs during the building phase) and working with Averett and DCC to develop workforce training programs in areas like hospitality management that will benefit numerous businesses in addition to the resort.

And positions with Caesars Virginia are exactly the kinds of jobs our community wants, with average wage and benefits packages valued between $50,000 and $55,000 annually. Moreover, Caesars is committed to hiring locally and promoting from within, offering rewarding opportunities to build careers without needing to leave Danville.

What’s more, no employee at Caesars Virginia will make less than $15.00/hr. You do not have to take our word for this: The city and Caesars have signed a detailed development agreement that outlines this and other commitments made by Caesars related to this project.

In addition to these great job offerings, the considerable revenue generated by Caesars Virginia will be transformative when it comes to funding budget priorities in our City. Within three years of opening, this project is expected to generate $22 million in gaming tax revenue, plus another $4.25 million in property, sales and hotel and occupancy taxes. On top of this, the city negotiated with Caesars to receive an additional, supplemental payment that is projected to be $12 million.

Combined, these represent more than $38 million annually city council can invest in education, public safety and continued economic and community development.

Plus, if the referendum is approved, Caesars will make a one-time, up-front payment of $20 million to the city by the end of this year. City council is expected to use a portion of these funds for a new headquarters for our dedicated police force, who deserve a modern facility that allows for the training and community engagement that are such a priority.

The benefits of welcoming Caesars to Danville extend well beyond quality jobs and tens of millions in tax revenue. We have both been impressed by Caesars’ demonstrated commitment to each community where it operates (in the form of employee volunteerism and corporate philanthropy), along with the leadership it has shown — and continues to show — to encourage responsible gaming.

Simply put, the Caesars Virginia project is the perfect complement to the great work of Danville’s economic and community development efforts of the last decade. We can build a true tourism magnet, revitalize the Schoolfield neighborhood, create sustainable jobs and generate significant tax revenue for our community, all without raising taxes on local residents.

For these reasons and more, it has been our privilege to serve as the co-chairs of the Caesars for Danville steering committee. Without reservation, we encourage you to join us in voting yes when you cast your ballot, and please visit CaesarsForDanville.com for more information.

John Gilstrap served on Danville City Council from 2010 to 2018 and as mayor in 2016-2018. Patricia Daniel is a longtime community advocate and resident of the Westmoreland neighborhood.

John Gilstrap served on Danville City Council from 2010 to 2018 and as mayor in 2016-2018. Patricia Daniel is a longtime community advocate and resident of the Westmoreland neighborhood.

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