The deadline is approaching for Whitmer’s OK of Muskegon Co.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has less than a month to approve the Little River Band Indians of Ottawa casino project.

The tribe has been working on the project for over 12 years. If approved, the now vacant Great Lakes Downs Racecourse will soon house a 70,000 square foot casino and a 220-room hotel.

On Friday, nearly a hundred people rallied in support of the tribal leaders. The draft fostered bipartisan support with the presence of State Representative Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon, and State Senator Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo.

“They did everything the local government, the state government and the federal government asked for,” Sabo said. “I personally think it’s time to give them what is rightfully theirs. This is an opportunity to start this casino here on this property.

Whitmer filed a single application six month extension until the approval deadline of last December. Its new approval deadline is June 16.

Muskegon Heights City Manager Troy Bell said if the casino is approved, the city’s water filtration plant will supply all the water to the new business.

“We see this as an opportunity and a partnership with the tribe,” Bell said.

Additionally, Bell hopes its devastated community will benefit from new jobs and needed housing.

“As long as people are still there, all we need is an opportunity. This casino represents that opportunity,” he said.

Several supporters have said they fear the governor is coming under pressure from competing companies.

“I think there are a lot of people who are kind of on the fence,” Sid McCarty said. “They think Governor Whitmer is trying to get on with those on the east side of the state, not so much here in west Michigan.”

Whitmer said she was “concerned that the Home Office hasn’t been very clear about some of the future decisions they will be making. I’m going to seek clarification from them because I think that’s very relevant to finally make a decision before the deadline.

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