Business | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

[UPDATE] New Racetrack/Gaming Complex to be Built in Gretna

By: La'Tasha Givens Email
By: La'Tasha Givens Email

Updated 1-12 by La'Tasha Givens at 6:05 PM

It was all smiles and cheers as city leaders and investors broke ground for a new state of the art horse track and gaming center in Gretna. But not all residents are happy. Resident Amos White says, "I hope that it doesn't come here, which I know they already groundbreaking for it but I'm against it."

Some residents say the gambling could have a negative impact on the community. Zanders Horne says, "The crime rate might go up and people may get robbed. You never know what might happen because its dealing with money."

City leaders say the complex will have an estimated a $2.5 million economic impact on the area during the first two years and will bring 400 hundred jobs this fall when it opens.

"Oh, I think it will be great! I used to work at a casino. This is great because it gives jobs for the area and its very exciting," says, Patricia White.

We stopped by a local church to see if any of the members had any spiritual concerns and surprisingly most of them think it is a good thing. Charlie Dilworth minister at Springfield A.M.E. says, "We have a lot of roads that need paving, work on our parks and recreation and also with our schools. The land taxes and revenue will help with all these other issues."

Others say they are excited about the new entertainment.

"We need something here in the county where people can go out and socialize," says, Melvin Barber.

So for now, most residents are willing to roll the dice.

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[UPDATE] 1-12 Noon --

Gretna residents are sounding off about a multi-million dollar horse track and casino coming to their town. Some are concerned about what this means for the small community.

Eyewitness News was in Gretna, where the police chief told us most people are excited for the center. But he has received a few calls from residents who are concerned about having a gambling center. He believes these people may live outside of Gretna.

Various city, county and state leaders were on hand for yesterday's (1-11) ground-breaking on the $10 million dollar casino and horse track.

City leaders say the complex will bring 400 jobs this fall when it opens.

The partnership is with the Poarch Band of the Creek Indians.
Gretna's City manager says they expect the business to bring in about $2.5 million dollars a year in the first phase, then 6 to 7 million each year in the second phase.

Eyewitness News was at Springfield AME Church in Gretna, where the pastor and members were meeting. They told us that they are happy about the jobs the casino will bring, but a few said it will also lead to people spending money they don't have.

Coming up this evening on Eyewitness News, we'll have that reaction from Gretna residents.

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Investors are waging a ten million dollar bet on the city of Gretna, and residents are all a buzz.

Race Track Developer David Romanik says, "I've been working on this project for almost four years now and it's a dream come true. I'm kind of pinching myself that it's actually happening."

Gretna Mayor Helen Franks says, "I'm so happy about this venture so happy with our partners that I could just jump and shout."

Tuesday 1-11 afternoon, a ground breaking was held where a new entertainment complex is being built. "Wind Creek Gretna" will feature a gambling center and a state-of-the-art covered horse track that will hold 1,500 people.

"The purpose of this is to have a regional equine center that will feature both quarter horse racing and other equine events in our area," says, Romanik.

The city partnered with Wind Creek, owned by the Poarch Band of the Creek Indians. The company also owns three casinos in Alabama.

City leaders say this smaller venture will bring in 400 jobs when it opens this fall and will have a $2.5 million economic impact each year during the first phase. The city manager says after the second year, when a retail store and hotel is added, they expect a $6 to $7 million dollar impact each year.

During the ceremony, members of the tribe performed a traditional dance and prayed over the lands.

Buford Rolin Chairman of Poarch Band of Creek Indians says, "We're good neighbors. We want to be a part of this community and we want to involve the community. Hopefully the people will appreciate us just as much as we appreciate them."

In addition to city and county leaders, Senator Al Lawson and State Rep. Alan Williams were also in attendance.

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Gretna, Florida, - Investors are placing a ten million dollar bet on the City of Gretna.

A ground breaking just wrapped up for a new casino and horse track. City leaders say the complex will bring 4-hundred jobs this fall when it opens. The partnership is with the Poarch Band of the Creek Indians. Various city, county and state leaders were in attendance for today's groundbreaking. Members of the tribe performed a traditional dance and prayed over the lands.

Gretna Mayor Helen Franks says, "We're hoping that its going to bring more business. We have more things to do ans more money, more economic benefits with the money that is coming to the city of Gretna."

Gretna City manager says they expect the business to bring in about 2-point-five million dollars a year in the first phase, then 6 to 7 million each year in the second phase.


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