A long-awaited community facility in Severn, Md., received a major boost in the form of a $3 million grant that was part of more than $18.8 million in local impact and community grant money that was awarded by Live! Casino and Hotel and the Anne Arundel County Local Development Council during a presentation Sept. 23 at the casino's Events Center.
The project that received the $3 million was the Severn Intergenerational Center, a planned facility that will serve both young and old with the Boys and Girls Club and a seniors activity center sharing the 30,000-square foot facility.
The building, which will be located on Reece Road near Van Bokkelen Elementary School, is estimated to cost $12 million to $13 million and will open in about four years.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman called it his favorite project, noting the center "has had a group of residents working for 30 years trying to make it happen."
In fact, Pittman said he has plans for the center taped to his office door.
"This is huge for Anne Arundel County," he said during the grants presentation.
The Severn Intergenerational Center was just one of more than 30 organizations and projects that received financial assistance.
"There are just dozens and dozens of organizations that do great work in the community every day and we're happy to be able to support them," Cordish Companies principal Joe Weinberg said. Cordish Companies owns Live! Casino and Hotel. "It's really one of the most meaningful days of the year for me, our company and for all of our employees as well."
Organizations that received seven-figure grants included the Anne Arundel County Fire Department ($5.248 million), the Anne Arundel County Police Department ($3.4 million), Anne Arundel Community College ($1.7 million) and BWI Partnership-Community Development Foundation ($1.059 million).
However, smaller organizations also received much-needed funding such as Kingdom Kare, which was awarded $35,000 to continue its mentoring programs for youth, and Partners In Care, which received $40,000 to help transport older people and continue making phone calls and home visits to the elderly.
Meanwhile, the Severn Intergenerational Center is expected to have a substantial impact on that community.
"We're really happy about the Severn area getting this level of service because they hadn't previously. It's going to be great," said Kathleen Koch, executive director of Arundel Community Development Services, the organization overseeing the building of the Intergenerational Center.
"We're really excited about the Boys and Girls Club because they do a phenomenal job of providing services to low to moderate income [families] and they're in a facility now where they're busting at the seams, so the fact that we can bring them into a larger facility is wonderful."
In the seniors' portion of the building, daily meals and exercise classes are planned as well as recreational activities ranging from pickle ball to arts and crafts.
Pittman, the county executive, noted that the contribution of Live! Casino and Hotel extends beyond the annual grant funding.
"It's more than just a casino, you have a great hotel and events center and it's expanding. It's going to be something that our county needs," Pittman said.
"These people are always on the cutting edge," he added. "They know what the needs are. They know we needed a convention center in Anne Arundel County, a place for large gatherings ... and that's going to keep this casino creating revenue."
The casino will soon be opening The Hall at Live!, the Events Center expansion that will be a 4,000-seat venue that will host, among other things, Anne Arundel County high school and college graduations and community events.
"There has been a very good partnership between the public and private sides here in Maryland," Weinberg, the Cordish executive, said. "The trick is to maintain that and recognize that the casinos in Maryland have invested a tremendous amount of money in their facilities and employ thousands of people. There are over 15,000 people employed in the gaming industry in Maryland."
The six casinos in Maryland generate in gaming tax an amount equivalent to every corporation in Maryland combined, Weinberg pointed out. Live! Casino alone provides $1 million a day to the state in taxes, he said.
"Hopefully, there will continue to be recognition," he said, "as to how important the casinos are to the state, both as a revenue generator as well as an employment generator."
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