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Casino Development in Detroit Boosting Local Economy

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The building of three permanent gambling casinos in Detroit is almost single-handedly pulling the region's construction industry out of a 4-year slump and providing jobs for thousands of construction workers. An estimated 3,200 construction jobs that could last for up to 2 years will be created as the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, MotorCity Casino and soon the Greektown Casino set up their permanent sites, each with 100,000 square feet of gambling space, 400-room hotels, massive parking structures, convention areas, restaurants and, in some cases, luxury spas and fitness centers.

"Nothing is better than a big-city project," said Mike Davis, executive president of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, which represents 23,000 journeyman carpenters, millwrights and apprentices.

It's been a rough road for construction trades workers in the past few years. In Metro Detroit, 7,100 of them who work on big commercial projects have lost their jobs since 2001, according to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth. For the past two years, the number of hours worked by the rank-and-file members in Davis' union dropped by 1 million hours to 10 million a year.

With fewer hours, many construction workers have seen their annual incomes drop by about half, to as low as $25,000. Work on the MGM Grand and MotorCity complexes began last year and is expected to wrap up by late 2007. The Greektown project awaits resolution of Detroit zoning issues before it can begin. It's expected to be completed in 2008.

The three casinos have been using temporary smaller facilities since state voters in 1996 approved the idea of casinos in Detroit.

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