Betting on the future
In a suite on the 16th floor of Harrah’s Cherokee hotel and casino, Cherokee leaders happily milled about as an architectural animation of expansion plans played repeatedly on a flat-screen TV.
Plans for the $650 million expansion grow the current 88,000-square-foot casino gaming floor and two-tower 15-story hotel into a resort type attraction, providing 1,000 new jobs and increasing profits from the current $155 million currently shared with tribal members.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks called it a day that set history.
Hicks and Vice Chief Larry Blythe both thanked the Tribal Council for passing a resolution in support of the expansion plans. Council Chair Dan McCoy said that the resolution’s passage was an indication of how strongly council members are pushing for the plan, which they feel will be overwhelmingly beneficial.
“This will be tremendous, not only for the Eastern Band but for all the surrounding counties in Western North Carolina,” McCoy said.
The jobs created by Harrah’s expansion will be mostly year-round, with an average salary of more than $30,000 and a comprehensive benefits package. The casino and hotel employs a wide-variety of workers, drawing about 18 percent of its workforce from Eastern Band members and providing jobs for many in the over-50 crowd.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime to be involved in something like this,” said Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise Board Chair Norma Moss.
— By Sarah Kucharski