NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its “All in for Norfolk” campaign announced hiring goals for their proposed casino: 90 percent of workers should be local to Norfolk and the surrounding area, and 50 percent minority.

The $500-million casino and hotel project depends on a referendum on the Nov. 3.

To achieve the hiring goals, the Norfolk Resort and Casino project is reaching out to local universities and job workforce programs.

Project representative Jay Smith says he doesn’t expect a ready-made pool of job candidates.

“We’re gonna have to train people,” Smith said in a Wednesday interview. “We’re not gonna be able to find, in Norfolk, people who have been a casino dealer. That just doesn’t exist right now.”

All in for Norfolk says the project will create 2,000 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs. The biggest chunk of the jobs will be in gaming operations, which will pay anywhere from $60,000 to $75,000 a year.

The other permanent jobs range from a valet in the $30,000 to 45,000 range, to surveillance, IT and finance positions that will earn up to $75,000 a year.

Opponents have their own campaign, urging people to vote no on the Nov. 3 referendum.
They say the deal the Pamunkey tribe has struck with the City of Norfolk hasn’t been transparent enough.

Smith says All in for Norfolk has more information on its website than any other casino project currently being proposed.

The tribe has made a $150,000 donation to help attract a full-service grocery store in the city’s St. Paul’s neighborhood near the project, win or lose at the ballot box. The area is currently a food desert after its grocery store, a Save-A-Lot, closed in June.

But Smith says what he hopes will sway voters will be the long-term economic benefits he’s forecasting.

“$30 million in new revenue for the city every year. $50 million in new revenue every year for the state and public schools, and 2,500 permanent jobs,” he said.

The project has reached out to ODU, Norfolk State, Tidewater Community College and several local job programs to get a recruiting campaign in place if the referendum passes. If that comes up a winner, Smith says construction hiring could begin as soon as December.

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