How A (New) Casino Helps Local Organizations

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Why? It's the question many have asked as the city of Davenport and the Riverboat Development Authority pursue different casino developers.

After Monday, May 20th, 2013, 45 local organizations can answer that question and News 8's Angie Sharp spoke with two of them.

Inside Casa De Los Ninos in Moline, little minds are growing.

"It's about helping our young kids be prepared for Kindergarten," says Michael Woods, Executive Director of Casa Guanajuato Quad Cities.

The bi-lingual preschool is finishing its first year and Woods wants to build another one across the river by re-purposing the old Marquette Academy building in Davenport.

"Right where our Casa De Los Ninos will be at in Davenport, nearly 90% of the Kindergarten class has not had a Pre-K experience," says Woods. "By having us located in the community, our hope is that we can curb t hat and we can help children going to those local neighborhood schools to have a better Pre-K experience."

"The Latino population has the highest graduation drop-out rate," says Woods. "We need to curb that and the best way we can curb it is by investing early in their education."

Part of that investment comes from the Rhythm City Casino. A small portion of Rhythm City Casino's profits goes to the Riverboat Development Authority, which turns that money into grants for local charities and organizations. Since the RDA, which holds the casino license, started passing out the grants, it's given more than $54 million.

On Monday, May 20th, 2013, the RDA awarded 45 grants totaling $720,000. That's $100,000 less than last year as Rhythm City Casino's profits decline.

It means Dr. Curtis Roseman, Vice President of Heritage Documentaries, was one of the lucky recipients on Monday.

"This is the third grant we've gotten from the RDA for our three video documentaries," says Dr. Roseman.

Dr. Roseman says Heritage Documentaries started seven years ago and finished their first project, When Farmers Were Heroes, in 2009. Their second, The Rock Island Civil War Prison: Andersonville of the North?, was completed last year and will be shown this Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 at 6:30pm at the Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th Street.

Dr. Roseman says the grant they received will help them begin work on their third, which he says will focus on the explorer Zebulon Pike.

"Many people do not realize that the same time Lewis and Clark went up the Missouri, Zebulon Pike led an expedition up the Mississippi," says Dr. Roseman. "His task was to map the Mississippi and for the U.S. Government, he identified potential sites for forts and one of those sites was ultimately the site of Fort Armstrong."

The city of Davenport has presented data that shows taking casino life onto land has meant bigger profits for casinos such as Jumer's in Rock Island. In addition, the city's recently restructured plan would increase annual revenue to the RDA from its current $2 million (based on 4.1% gross revenue, the contractual minimum) to $3.9 million (4.5% gross revenue). The RDA is currently interviewing all interested developers, including the city's proposal. The President of the RDA says she hopes to have a recommendation to the RDA Board in the coming weeks.