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Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins III column: Approving casino can lift all of Richmond
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Casino Referendum: Yes and No

Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins III column: Approving casino can lift all of Richmond

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By Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins III

Richmond voters have a clear choice when they flip over their ballots to the back. Do we want new economic opportunities? Do we want to provide well-paying jobs for local residents? Do we want the River City to have a tourism beacon south of the James? Or do we want to let the naysayers keep saying no to ambitious ideas and embrace the status quo?

The answer is clear as this historic opportunity for Richmond presents itself. What has resulted is an impressive coalition of elected leaders, business groups, citizens associations and residents coming together with one vision, aligning with one purpose and supporting ONE Casino + Resort.

Eight of nine City Council members, along with the mayor and other local elected leaders, have endorsed the project and are encouraging constituents to vote yes. From the Richmond Highway Neighborhood Civic Association in the area where the project would be located, to the Richmond NAACP, to ChamberRVA, to Richmond Region Tourism, to the Metropolitan Business League, to Richmond Crusade for Voters, to Gov. Ralph Northam, there is consensus that this is Richmond’s opportunity to bring great jobs, new revenue and a tourism magnet to this wonderful city.

This project will yield remarkable benefits for the city of Richmond — a $5.7 billion economic impact with 1,500 new permanent jobs (with profit sharing), 3,000 construction jobs and $16 million in contributions to local nonprofits and organizations like Virginia Union University and Communities in Schools. ONE will generate more than $500 million in new tax revenue and community benefits for the city during its first 10 years. That’s new money for our schools, roads and other city priorities, which could help keep down taxes and finally create the stream of significant privately generated revenue that city services have needed for so long.

Not a dime would be spent by the city to construct or operate ONE — state law prevents communities from contributing in any way to the construction of a casino in their community. And in fact, ONE will even reimburse the city for the costs of the selection and search process earlier this year. This project will truly elevate the community and be transformative for Richmond, and it will not involve public taxpayer dollars. Richmond simply reaps the benefits.

Urban One is uniquely positioned to join the city and its residents in this endeavor. With strong roots in Richmond as owners and operators of KISS-FM, ESPN Richmond, Praise Richmond and iPower, Urban One will deliver on promises we are making and contractual obligations we have with the city if the referendum is approved. We are Richmond, and Richmond is with us.

ONE will be a state-of-the-art entertainment destination, conveniently located just off Interstate 95 in an industrial area on the city’s South Side that highlights everything special and unique about Richmond. The project — a premier gaming, dining and entertainment facility — will include 15 unique restaurants and bars, including some famed local eateries; 250 luxurious hotel rooms; a 3,000-capacity theater that will bring the best in music and entertainment to the city; an on-site radio and television studio and soundstage; and 20,000 square feet of event space.

The property also will have a 50-acre-plus green space with gardens, miles of bike trails, a 1-acre festival lawn with a dedicated space for food trucks, a playground for all ages and abilities, dog parks, fitness trails and a walk-through arboretum, open to everyone.

ONE Casino + Resort will attract visitors from across the region, with an independent study finding that 78% of revenue at ONE will come from outside the city. Again, this will be a tourism magnet, bringing in revenue and jobs to the city. (You can find all of these details, and videos highlighting the project, at: onecasinoresort.com)

We have been so heartened by the incredible support our project has garnered from the very beginning. In particular, we are excited about bringing this project to South Richmond, which has been seeking a moment like this. As Charles Willis, president of the Richmond Highway Neighborhood Civic Association, representing the area located closest to the proposed site, has said: “Our neighborhood wants this casino and resort. For the jobs, for the tax revenue, for the community benefits. ONE Casino + Resort is not the best choice — it’s the perfect choice.”

We agree with Willis and hope you will, too. This dynamic project will bring so many diverse groups under one tent. Vote yes for ONE Casino + Resort, and let’s seize this tremendous opportunity.

Cathy Hughes is the founder and chairperson of Urban One. Contact her at: AskCathyHughes@urban1.com

Alfred Liggins III is the chief executive officer of Urban One. Contact him at: AskAlfred@urban1.com

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