MGM Springfield has announced partnerships with two local institutions and revealed a major retail tenant for the $960 million resort casino that is scheduled to open in western Massachusetts next fall.
Kringle Candle, the maker of fragranced candles operated by the family that founded Yankee Candle, will open a store inside an historic church that MGM preserved on part of the three-block downtown casino campus.
In a presentation to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a meeting in Springfield Thursday, MGM officials also announced an agreement with the Springfield Museums to curate displays within the casino complex of artifacts related to Springfield’s industrial history.
The company also announced the local Head Start organization has been selected to operate MGM’s daycare center for its employees.
MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said the partnerships help fulfill the casino industry giant’s pledge to help, not harm, local businesses.
"There is a strategy where a rising tide floats all boats," said Mathis.
Kringle, which was started less than a decade ago, operates a popular retail store and restaurant on a campus in rural Bernardston, about 50 miles north of Springfield.
Mathis said Kringle has been picked to become the primary tenant in a 129-year-old church that MGM painstakingly moved 200 yards through the casino construction site.
" We went through a lot of lengths to get that building relocated and we wanted to make sure we entrusted the right partner to ( occupy it) and we think with Kringle Candle we've found that partner," declared Mathis.
Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums, said the collaboration with MGM will provide exposure for the city’s preeminent cultural institution.
" We feel it is a great opportunity to share examples from our outstanding collections with the 8 million visitors who are going to visit the MGM resort every year," said Simpson.
The daycare center, with space for 68 children, will operate in a brand new 6,000-square-foot building at Main and Union Streets, according to Mathis.
" We're not experts in daycare but we found that (expertise) with the local Head Start. They already serve South End families, who are going to be part of our workforce. So, my dream is to one day see a group of families walking down Main Street, dropping their children off, and reporting to work," explained Mathis.
Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby praised MGM’s announcements.
" We're trying not to count our chickens before they hatch, but the whole point of the ( gaming ) legislation was about economic development, not just casinos, and it looks like that is what's happening here," said Crosby.
The gaming commission voted 5-0 Thursday to award $100,000 from the Community Mitigation Fund to Northampton.
Mayor David Narkewicz requested the money to create a marketing and advertising plan to attract MGM casino visitors to Northampton.
" We rely significantly on people who go to our shows, our art galleries, restaurants and shops, so we just what to make sure we are part of whatever increase in regional tourism that happens, said Narkewicz.
A study commissioned by Northampton in 2013 estimated sales at Northampton businesses could decline between $4 million-$8 million once the casino in Springfield opened.