As MGM Springfield Celebrates One-Year Anniversary, Surrounding Communities Highlight Benefits of Community Mitigation Fund Grants
On August 24, 2019, MGM Springfield marked the one-year anniversary of its opening in 2018.
The first year milestone of the $960 million entertainment destination in Western Massachusetts provided an opportunity for local officials from surrounding communities to reflect on the impact of the casino, including monies received from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Community Mitigation Fund.
In July 2019, the MGC awarded approximately $4.1 million in Community Mitigation Fund grants to several municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts, aiming to help offset costs related to the construction and operations of gaming establishments.
Since 2015, the MGC has awarded approximately $16 million in mitigation funding.
“The Community Mitigation Fund program highlights the Commonwealth’s commitment to not only fully leverage the benefits of the gaming industry, but also the Legislature’s strong mandate to mitigate any unintended consequences associated with the introduction of casinos,” said MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein. “The funding is intended to advance initiatives in transportation, tourism, workforce development and public safety in both the host community and nearby affected neighborhoods. It is gratifying to hear positive feedback from award recipients who are successfully applying mitigation funding to further those important needs in surrounding communities.”
During MGM Springfield’s recent birthday weekend, West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt and Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos talked to 22 News about the Community Mitigation Fund and the assistance it has given surrounding communities away from the host community to evaluate the impacts of the casino.
“West Springfield’s been very successful in putting in grants with the Gaming Commission,” Mayor Reichelt told 22 News In Focus. “We’ve got about $750,000 so far, and a lot of it is for traffic, for intersection improvements, for traffic-related improvements. West Side likes to call themselves the crossroads of New England, there’s a lot of car traffic that’s coming through.”
Mayor Reichelt discussed West Springfield’s focus on traffic-related issues, noting several transportation projects underway to improve roadways for commuters.
“A lot of the intersections that bring regional traffic, whether it be Route 20 or Park Ave. and Park Street into Springfield, need improvements,” Mayor Reichelt said. “So we’ve gotten a couple hundred thousand for each of those intersections, as well as more money to help pay for the design for Memorial Ave. The money we’ve received has been for design, so we have about three or four projects under design right now getting ready for construction.”
Mayor Kos highlighted the combined $50,000 Non-Transportation Planning grant that the Cities of Chicopee and Springfield received in July, which will provide funding to help implement potential projects outlined in the “Reinvesting the Gaming Economic Development Fund” and the “Implementation Blueprint, An Economic Development Strategy for the Renaissance of a Great American Downtown: Springfield, MA.”
The grant monies will be applied to development in downtown Springfield and a development program for the Westover Metropolitan Airport.
“The goal there is for commercial aviation,” Mayor Kos told 22 News In Focus. “The Community Mitigation Fund thought that was a great way of trying to benefit the region, not just Springfield itself. To MGM’s credit, they supported that. They have corporate jets, they have clients that come into Westover, entertainment is flying in there, as well. From our perspective, the development of commercial aviation at Westover made sense. It benefits not only my community, but it benefits the region.”
Other cities and groups in the surrounding communities around MGM Springfield, like Northampton, Holyoke Community College, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, each received grants in 2019, as well. The grants varied in categories, supporting specific projects, along with Workforce Development and Non-Transportation Planning projects.