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Latin Builders Association join chorus to endorse casinos

Joining Hispanic contractors and the Florida United Business Association, the Latin Builders Association announced Tuesday that it will also be endorsing the "destination resorts" casino bill sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Rep. Erik Fresen.

The reason: jobs. The construction of three $2 billion resort casinos, as proposed by the bill, would created an estimated 45,000 jobs, the builders said.

That would "help alleviate the severe economic challenges facing our members and the rest of the state,” said Bernie Navarro, a Miami builder and president of LBA said at Tallahassee press conference Tuesday. In August, Navarro was a guest of Genting Resorts World Miami in Singapore, where he visited the casino giant's convention and casino resort.

"The economic struggle has been massive and only a massive undertaking could possibly help our state recover,'' he said. "This is exactly the massive undertaking that Florida needs to get back on its feet."

On the other side of the debate, however, are business groups lining up to oppose the resort casinos bill. They include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Attractions Association and the Florida Retail Federation.

In addition to the construction jobs, the Latin builders group estimates that thousands of permanent, contractual maintenance jobs would be created through the operation of each destination resort.

“Currently, the construction industry has a statewide unemployment rate of 20 percent and has been on a downward slope dropping 52 percent from peak employment years in 2005 and 2006,” said Noelia Moreno, immediate past president of LBA. “This Act puts Florida businesses in the position to be the largest job creators in the state’s recent history.  This legislation has been dubbed “the game-changer” and it really is just that. This is why we have traveled to the capitol today to voice our support.” 

The LBA is comprised of builders, developers, contractors, architects, engineers, plumbers, electricians and tradesman concentrated in the South Florida region.