Dozens of job hunters and small business owners from around Palmer met with Mohegan Sun officials Tuesday night to learn how they could have a shot at employment.
Some of them are like Vanessa Galica, who says she needs the financial stability.
"That's me, I was laid off last year...I work part time, but that's all I can get right now," she said.
Like Hard Rock in West Springfield and MGM in Springfield, Mohegan Sun is vowing to fill their anticipated 2,500 to 3,000 positions with locals first. Jobs would range from food service and hospitality to dealers and supervisor positions.
"A majority of the employees are definitely from the local area and we continue to hire employees from the local area," said Don Trella, director of employee and guest experience for Mohegan Sun.
Small business owners based out of Palmer say they've also been struggling and could use a large business like a casino to sell products to.
"Instead of just surviving, then we could start to grow again," said George Roberts, owner of Roberts and Sons Printing in Palmer.
"It's a tough market out there right because of the imports and so forth," said Wayne Degon, president of Spectrum International.
They've been specializing in ad specialties and promotional goods for more than 42 years.
If he could start selling to Mohegan, he thinks his business may start to grow again.
"We'd like to hopefully have an opportunity to deal with Mohegan and possible develop a long relationship with them," he said,
Whether they're job hunters or small business owners, they say with a tough economy, they'll hold on to opportunities like a casino coming to town even if it's not a guarantee.
"I wouldn't be selective as to what I have to do, it could be housekeeping, it could be valet parking cars and I'll be happy as long as I'm in there," Galica said.
The Western Mass casino license is not expected to be granted until early next year, with construction on a casino ranging from two to three years.
Employers at Mohegan say they would start hiring about six months out before opening.
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