By Sean Barron
What looks like little more than a series of large dirt patches and protruding beams should, within a year, be the site of a few thousand jobs.
“It’s coming along very nicely,” Alex Stolyar said, referring to construction of the $250 million Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley racino off state Route 46 in Austintown.
Stolyer, Penn National’s vice president of corporate development, provided an update on the racino Friday during Mahoning County commissioners’ meeting.
Stolyer estimated the project, construction of which got underway last June, will generate about 1,000 construction jobs and another 1,000 direct and indirect positions.
Wyomissing, Pa.-based Penn National is to operate the facility on 187 acres between state Routes 11 and 46. It should open around September 2014, he predicted.
Drawings of the racino Stolyer showed during the meeting revealed a building design similar to that of other such facilities throughout Ohio, he said, noting that Hollywood Slots’ core features will be 1,500 video- lottery terminals and a 1-mile track for thoroughbred racing.
In addition, Stolyer said, it will have roughly 1,000 enclosed grandstand seats, along with a sports bar and three other food vendors.
Casino revenue also will help with road, sewer and other projects in the area, noted Commissioner David C. Ditzler, who’s also a former Austintown trustee.
Also at the session, Auditor Michael V. Sciortino gave an overview of a Sept. 5 meeting he and other staff members had with Standard & Poor’s officials in New York City regarding the county’s debt ratings.
Most significantly, county government has made necessary adjustments and has tightened many of its policies and procedures to account for tough economic times during and after the 2008 recession, Sciortino explained.
For example, the number of county employees has seen a 16.4 percent decline since 2009, he noted.
Also, 60 percent of casino-tax revenues will be placed in a stabilization fund commissioners approved last year, Sciortino continued. That will be a big step toward moving the county closer to reaching a carry-over balance of 15 percent of yearly general-fund expenditures, he said.
The 15 percent benchmark should increase the likelihood the county will improve one of its bond ratings, the auditor explained.
One of the important ratings was an “AA” stable rating the county received on its sales-tax bonds, he said.