Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tioga Downs casino license would boost entire region

The preparation and submission of applications for the Southern Tier's full casino gaming license has, at the risk of understatement, been big news.

Tioga Downs, my facility, is one of the applicants for this important economic development responsibility. I believe our application is a good one, and that Tioga Downs is uniquely positioned to responsibly meet the letter and intent of the legislation and referendum that created this process. But that is not why I am writing.

It is being said, in several media outlets and public statements and in letters to newspapers, that in the event Tioga Downs is granted this license, Binghamton will not benefit. This is simply not true.

If Tioga Downs is granted a full casino gaming license, we will hire in Binghamton. More importantly, these positions will be available a few months after we get the license, and not sometime in late 2016 or 2017. This is not a zero-sum game situation. It is a regional development effort with regional benefits to be gained for all of our Southern Tier neighbors. Professional and objective workforce studies, economic forecasts, and plain common sense all require Tioga Downs hiring in Binghamton and throughout Broome County. Suggesting otherwise is misleading.

Tioga Downs has been a good neighbor — for the entire region, not just in Tioga County and not just recently. We support the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Southern Tier Veterans, along with other nonprofits that service the entire region. Our sponsorship kept the Binghamton Air Show going, and we plan to sponsor Spiedie Fest if we get the license. Tioga Downs has also committed to establishing a charitable foundation to allocate not less than $500,000 annually throughout the Southern Tier.

As many people know, my mother was raised in Binghamton, and the only reason I initially came up to look at Tioga Downs was because of that connection. I thought then, and am now convinced, that my mother and her friends from the area would smile seeing me put so much effort into our Southern Tier communities.

Tioga Downs, a good neighbor long before there was talk about the application process we're likely close to the end of, has always hired from throughout the region, and has always appreciated the support we have received from the residents of Binghamton and Broome County.