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Ditzler: Racino can attract new restaurants, hotels, veterinary centers

Published: Fri, February 1, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The $250 million thoroughbred racetrack and casino opening next year in Austintown offers substantial economic- development potential for the area around it, Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler said Thursday.

A host of new businesses will find desirable locations near the 194-acre Penn National Gaming Inc. racino to be built at state Route 46 and Silica Road, said Ditzler, who was an Austintown trustee before becoming a county commissioner at the beginning of January.

“We’ve already had people looking into new hotels. There’s going to be new hotel food services,” the commissioner said.

Veterinary medical practices will be attracted to the racino area to care for horses, including 800 horses to be stalled at the racino, he said.

“You’re going to have just an abundance of different jobs that correlate to that industry that are coming into the county,” he added, noting the site-preparation work is under way for the racino, known as the Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course.

The racino itself will have 800 to 1,000 full-time employees across three shifts, according to Penn National.

Taxes paid by the racino could be used to widen and repave Silica Road and add curbs and drainage improvements to it, the former trustee said.

Sarah V. Lown, senior manager for economic development at the Western Reserve Port Authority, which is the commissioners’ economic development agent, said the authority stands ready to help.

“Some of the support industries to the racino project could enter into development agreements, wherein the facility built to serve the racino might actually be built and temporarily owned by the port authority, bringing down the cost for building materials because we don’t have to pay sales tax,” Lown said.

“We actually can’t work directly with gambling operations,” but the authority can help businesses locating near the racino, said Lown, whose authority serves Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Restaurants and stables are among the businesses that could be attracted to the racino area, said Lown, who gave commissioners a report of the port authority’s recent economic-development efforts.

Ditzler told Lown the commissioners should take advantage of the authority’s economic-development expertise and work closely with it in these efforts, including those related to the Austintown racetrack and casino project.

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