City of Milwaukee Common Council President Willie L. Hines, Jr. took part in an informational meeting for minority contractors this past Monday, March 19 in the Woodland Dreams Ballroom of Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 W. Canal St .
President Hines, who delivered welcoming remarks at the meeting, said the session allowed participants to learn more about opportunities for minority contractors during the construction phase of the casino’s proposed $150 million hotel project. “With our high unemployment rate among minorities in Milwaukee – and especially the chronic and worsening employment rate among Black males – the commitment made by the Tribe to offer contractors of color an opportunity to play a large role in this project is a major, positive step in putting people back to work,” he said.
The Forest County Potawatomi Community has set a goal of awarding at least 20 percent of work related to the hotel to minority contractors, a potential $30 million or more slice of the total project cost. Additionally, the Tribe is hopeful it can have Milwaukee residents representing 25 percent of all construction workers on the project.
The hotel project will be presented to the Common Council for consideration and approval. The informational session is being held now to allow time for the bid process prior to an anticipated latespring groundbreaking.
According to information provided by the Tribe, during the casino’s most recent expansion, completed in 2008, more than 23 percent of construction work was awarded to minority firms. Additionally, of the 2,500 employees at Potawatomi Bingo Casino, more than 53 percent are people of color.
Participants at Monday’s open house were given information on the tentative construction requirements, pre-qualification requirements and the bid process.
Also commending Potawatomi on its minority commitment was State Representative Leon Young who released a statement expressing his thoughts on the project. “Potawatomi’s commitment to hiring minority contractors is laudable,” said Rep. Young. “The gap between minority and non-minority employment is a growing problem and Potawatomi should be commended for their efforts to address this issue.”
During the casino’s most recent construction project in 2008, approximately 23 percent of construction contracts were awarded to minority firms. Additionally, more than 53 percent percent of Potawatomi’s employees are people of color.
Rep. Young stated, “Last week, I announced a goal of employing 15,000 Black men in the Milwaukee Metro area and today, I asked representatives of Potawatomi Bingo and Casino to join our coalition. Efforts like those of Potawatomi will be essential in meeting that goal,” Rep. Young added. “It is highly encouraging to see businesses such as Potawatomi leading the way in this area.”