A Message From Commissioner Bruce Stebbins about the MGC’s “Fostering Partnerships” Networking Forum
On November 14, 2019, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) hosted a group of over 50 guests consisting of minority, women and veteran business enterprise owners, stakeholder partner organizations, state agency leaders, developers and financing entities. The group gathered for the commission’s “Fostering Partnerships” Networking Forum to hear firsthand from our gaming licensees and their host communities about development opportunities that are emerging as a result of casino gaming in Massachusetts.
To recognize the importance of this networking forum, it is helpful to answer the question about why such a gathering was even possible. The answer can be found in the Expanded Gaming Act of 2011. The law clearly stipulated that opportunities during the design, construction and ongoing operation of the Commonwealth’s casinos must be made available to these critical business populations. With resounding success, all three licensees not only set goals for design and construction but met and surpassed many of their benchmarks.
With the casino doors open, gaming operators have established targets and continue to work toward goals for vendor spend with these three business groups. The strong track record of building those relationships has improved the success of many minority, women and veteran-owned businesses across Massachusetts.
The achievements the commission and others were seeing led us to think about how this legacy of success could be extended to the economic development opportunities beyond the casino footprint. Each one of our host communities was strategizing about how their city or town could continue to be transformed by the opening of our gaming licensees. The commission itself has provided Non-Transportation Planning grants to communities to realize what additional benefits could be leveraged because of our gaming licensees.
So the commission worked with our stakeholders, other state agencies, developers, our host communities, licensees and many veteran, women and minority-owned business leaders to connect at this networking forum and hear about what opportunities might exist on the horizon. We even tapped into the title of our event from our counterparts at MassPort.
After short introductions, the “meat” of the event began with presentations by our three licensees and their host community officials. Our category 2 licensee Plainridge Park Casino stepped to the podium first with not one, but three community partners. After reviewing the success of their gaming facility, the host community of Plainville joined their counterparts from Wrentham and Foxboro to talk about their unique collaboration. Because of the addition of Plainridge Park Casino to a region that already included Patriot Place in Foxborough (home of the Super Bowl champion Patriots) and the Wrentham Outlet Village, community representatives talked about their efforts to make the region a visitor destination as well as an attractive place to live or work with the new expanded commuter rail service.
MGM Springfield and the city of Springfield were next to discuss the impact of the new resort casino in the downtown. MGM’s entertainment focus is certainly drawing visitors to downtown performance venues. Other casino amenities are drawing visitors for shopping, dining and entertainment. Springfield officials highlighted other assets drawing visitors to the region and how they envision the redevelopment of several key properties in their downtown. The collaboration between Springfield and MGM Springfield was highlighted with an award by the International Economic Development Council for Best Public/Private partnership at their recent national conference in Indianapolis.
Finally, the city of Everett and Encore Boston Harbor reviewed the casino’s positive impact on the city to date. City officials not only focused their presentation on the Lower Broadway Urban Renewal Plan adjacent to Encore but the development possibilities throughout the city including transportation upgrades. Everett joined Springfield in outlining the presence of new federal Opportunity Zones within their cities designed to attract new investment.
For further information with respect to opportunities within the host communities, please reach out to our local partners as listed below:
- Jennifer Thompson, Plainville, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Paige Duncan, Foxborough, email@example.com
- Rachel Benson, Wrentham, RBenson@wrentham.ma.us
- Brian Connors, Springfield, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tess Kohanski, Everett, email@example.com
This event was intended to be the start of new conversations among potential partners. We hope that the Expanded Gaming statute’s legacy can endure when new opportunities within our host communities can include MBE’s, WBE’s and VBE’s.