Open letter to the Gaming Commission

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Iowa Racing and Gaming Commissioners,

Please heed the people of Cedar Rapids. I am writing with a vested and grounded interest in this community. My great-grandfather was mayor in the 1920s, and I have sought to further the greater good by creating high-quality jobs (forming three significant businesses: Teleconnect, McLeodUSA and Fiberutilities Group), by creating destination points (contributing to such projects as Science Station and other nonprofits), and by supporting education (forming a private primary school).

I speak as one who intimately understands Cedar Rapids and genuinely is interested in doing the right thing for this community. I write to support Cedar Crossing, and urge you to follow the intent of the Cedar Rapids’ voters.

This community and county soundly voted to support bringing a casino license on the proposal put forth by the Cedar Crossing team. Those voters supported a concept of a quality, top-scale casino — not simply slots in a box. The community endorsed the vision of a quality entertainment facility, a significant destination point — not a boutique, second rate facility.

This project will create quality jobs for the community. Cedar Crossing Central projects it will create 427 full-time jobs. The casino is expected to have a household earnings impact of $18.2 million and an economic output impact of $72.9 million.

Cedar Crossing isn’t just providing gaming; it’s investing in Cedar Rapids by providing a quality entertainment experience. The Cedar Crossing team is the only partnership with experience in urban gaming and will result in destination point impact. Their plan will significantly add to the entertainment landscape. The resulting boost in concerts and shows will benefit all downtown businesses, Cedar Rapids residents looking for enhanced entertainment opportunities and tourists.

Cedar Crossing will pay for a new parking garage, at a cost of $25 million to $30 million, through regular annual payments the city can use to secure debt. The other applicant would charge people for parking — unheard of for an urban casino.

For all these reasons, I urge you to grant a license for Cedar Crossing Central.

• Clark McLeod is a local businessman and this is a condensed version of the letter he submitted to the commission

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