In the closing days of the state legislative session Jim Murren, chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International, shares his perspective about his Bridgeport roots. “MGM is ready, willing and able to make a real investment in Bridgeport, and in Connecticut. We would respond to an RFP process with detailed development plans for a first-class facility that would make Connecticut proud.” The commentary also appeared in the CT Post.
As the debate about whether or not Connecticut should have a competitive process to establish its first commercial casino has continued, I’ve been reflecting on how our company can best impact the future of this great state. We recognize that Bridgeport was, and is, a lynchpin for Fairfield County, and for the state. With its proximity to the New York market, a casino in southwest Connecticut could sustain a meaningful investment and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic activity for the benefit of every citizen in the state–far exceeding the alternative being considered, by bringing more than double the number of jobs and triple the revenue.
Bridgeport has always been on our radar screen, but Connecticut limited gaming to tribal lands for the past two decades. Now, Connecticut is on the brink of permitting its first commercial casino off tribal lands; the pivotal question state leaders must decide is whether that opportunity will be restricted or truly competitive, with all qualified companies allowed to apply.
For me, our interest in Connecticut is about seizing an exceptional business opportunity, to be sure, but it is also quite personal.
That’s because Bridgeport welcomed my family when they emigrated from Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is the city where I was born, and where a work ethic took root that has helped to advance my career to the leadership of MGM Resorts International, an industry-leading, world-class gaming and entertainment resort company. I recall the neighborhoods and businesses that helped define Connecticut’s largest city, where families like mine could, through hard work and determination, build their futures.
Then as now, jobs were the key to opportunity. Unfortunately, today Bridgeport is fighting to recover from a dearth of major private investment. The city’s unemployment rate is 7.1 percent, compared with 4.7 percent statewide and 4.4 percent nationally.
MGM is ready, willing and able to make a real investment in Bridgeport, and in Connecticut. We would respond to an RFP process with detailed development plans for a first-class facility that would make Connecticut proud. We look forward to sharing our ideas with the people of Connecticut and involving community leaders, as we have done with distinction with our other properties, including those in urban communities in Maryland, Michigan and Massachusetts. It is how we do business.
Economic analysis has established it is in Connecticut’s best interest to begin a competitive bid process. Connecticut need only look to Massachusetts to see the benefits of an open competition. The industry’s largest companies competed for the opportunity to develop resorts, driving capital investment up by hundreds of millions of dollars above the minimum thresholds set by the legislature. Connecticut can–and should–reap substantial financial benefits, beginning with application and license fees, through construction and continuing when the doors open.
My connections to Connecticut run deep and remain strong. My family later moved to Fairfield, and I attended Trinity College in Hartford, where I earned a degree that included urban studies, influenced by the city of my youth.
In leading MGM, I have assembled a team of experts who share my commitment to developing properties that maximize the potential of urban communities, and contribute to their vitality and growth. There is nothing in which I take greater pride than how we approach these initiatives and then implement them.
The 77,000 employees of MGM around the world commit themselves daily in service to the communities in which we operate, while advancing the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees. We approach our corporate responsibilities earnestly, in our employment practices, in our environmentally responsible policies, and throughout our business operations.
We place a priority on building community connections, contributing to the economic success of urban communities with landmark operations that break new ground and set new standards. It is what we are doing in Springfield, Mass. It is that commitment that we would bring to Bridgeport, and to Connecticut.
I am grateful for the diligence of those who have advocated for a competitive process, and the more than two-thirds of Connecticut residents who wholeheartedly agree. I add my voice to theirs, in the shared hope that Connecticut will reassert the heritage my family fondly recalls of a beacon of economic opportunity–for all the state’s families.