Isle of Capri: Commitment to Cape Girardeau

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Thursday, the Cape Girardeau City Council voted to endorse Isle of Capri Casinos' downtown casino project, and we would like to thank them for their support.

The last available casino license in Missouri is one of the largest economic development opportunities currently available in this state. The city council, mayor and city manager have worked hard on behalf of Cape Girardeau residents to bring this opportunity to the city. We are honored by their confidence and optimistic about the future.

With the selection of Isle of Capri as the preferred developer, and the selection of a long dormant site as the perfect location to create a $125 million gaming and entertainment complex, the city has signaled that it is truly serious about competing for this opportunity.

Clearly there is a lot at stake.

By working together we can bring hundreds of new jobs to Cape Girardeau. We can spark a new downtown revitalization effort. We can boost tourism, provide a new economic engine and create business opportunities that have never been more needed than they are now in this difficult economy.

We would be proud to become Cape Girardeau's newest major corporate citizen, just as we are proud to say that we are the only company in the gaming industry that chose Missouri for its corporate headquarters.

We will continue to work with city leaders and citizens to bring nearly 500 jobs, tremendous new capital investment, ongoing tax revenue and our commitment to assist in the revitalization of downtown and the Broadway corridor. We will build a project designed to attract 1 million visitors a year through and near your downtown, with more than 60 percent of those visits coming from outside of the immediate area. This development will bring new people into Cape Girardeau from communities in Southern Illinois, northern Arkansas, eastern Tennessee, Kentucky and central Missouri.

We believe Cape Girardeau is the only applicant for the last casino license that is likely to generate significant new tax revenue for the state -- not just reshuffle existing revenue.

Cape Girardeau benefits. Missouri benefits. This project is a win-win.

Our project will create an annual payroll of nearly $14 million. We commit to doing everything possible to build an excellent team of employees, the vast majority of whom already live in the area and need good paying jobs. There will be some people with special skills who will be recruited, and those people will add to your community, buying homes, buying cars, buying groceries and raising families.

We were introduced to Cape Girardeau by members of the community who thought this type of development would add to the entertainment options, become a draw for those who would otherwise not visit and provide a significant economic boost to this region through investment and jobs.

And finally I would like to say that I have been involved with developments such as this since the early days of the riverboat industry nearly 20 years ago. From what I have seen, I can say that Cape Girardeau should be proud of the way its elected officials and administration have conducted themselves during this process. City leaders entertained all offers of interest, allowed the public to see proposals from competing developers and worked diligently on behalf of its citizens to leverage the unique geographic location to secure a first-class development that can help this region grow in the future.

For all of the reasons above, I would like to say on behalf of the 7,579 employees of Isle of Capri that we are proud to go down this path with Cape Girardeau, and we will work tirelessly to bring jobs and redevelopment to the community.

Thank you for the vote of confidence.

Paul Keller is senior vice president and chief development officer of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., St. Louis.

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