ARENAC COUNTY (WJRT) (7/11/2018) - A year from now, the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Arenac County will have more space and a new hotel to accommodate guests.
The casino attracts about 1 million visitors a year, but that number is expected to grow when the $55 million expansion project is complete.
"We are the largest employer in Arenac County," said Ron Ekdahl, chief of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
The tribe will be increasing its lead in that category, as the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino expansion project has reached the halfway point.
A topping off ceremony on Wednesday celebrated the point when the last beam was placed atop the structure. The expansion project includes a five-story hotel.
"This is going to be the largest property in the region north of Bay City," Ekdahl said. "One hundred forty-eight rooms. We are excited about this."
The expansion also includes a full-service restaurant and additional gaming space.
Ten years ago, the Saganing casino started in a temporary structure, but by next year, it will be full-fledged resort.
"When you go to a casino, you are there. You want to spend a night or two. A lot of times you stop for a half hour or a couple of hours, have lunch and move on," said Ray Brenny, CEO of Soaring Eagle Casinos. "People will actually stop and spend time here."
The Saganing casino already employs about 300 people and there will be 160 jobs openings created with the expansion.
"We are going to have an aggressive recruitment effort," Brenny said. "We are going to start way in advance and we are going to try and pull people from the local area. If not, from out of the county or out of state."
He believes this could lead to more job creation in northeast Michigan.
"It's going to be a boon," Brenny said. "People are going to start looking at the development in the area and I think it's going to attract other businesses to move into this region."
The hotel should be open by August 2019.