NEARING COMPLETION: The main Saracen Resort casino in Pine Bluff.

I’ve been remiss in failing to note a news release from the Saracen Resort casino in Pine Bluff announcing its push to add 800 jobs by October, when the new main casino is expected to open.

The Quapaw Nation-owned casino is operating in an annex, with a convenience store, while construction has continued on the main casino.

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John Berrey, the outgoing chairman of the Quapaw Nation, said the enterprise will employ 1,200 when open.

Some 200 different jobs will be included, from managerial to blackjack dealers and slot machine attendants,  a 90-person security team, accountants, cashiers, surveillance specialists, custodians, electricians and mechanical engineers. Some 400 people will be employed in six restaurants and three bars.

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A second phase of the Saracen development calls for the construction of a hotel. The news release says it’s projected for 2021, but those plans are now subject to the guidance of a newly elected Quapaw Nation chair. A news release said it could employ 70 to 90 more people.

800 jobs is a BIG deal in Jefferson County, even if the hiring was more or less expected. The pandemic added uncertainty to the equation.

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I couldn’t help but think of Governor Hutchinson bringing in his Commerce secretary and a squadron of Little Rock big shots the other day to announce the news of 57 jobs thanks to a Missouri company’s acquisition of an existing ammo parts plant in Little Rock.

Maybe he should welcome the new Quapaw leader to one of his briefings and thank him for 800 jobs. No state taxpayer handout was required.

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