QUAPAW - The chairman of the Quapaw Tribe said Tuesday he expects the 70,000-square-foot casino and resort the tribe plans to open next summer to spur growth in the area.

“We want to share our success, said John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe. “This just isn't about the Quapaw Tribe. This just isn't just about our people. We want to help the community grow. We want to help the community prosper. What we want to do is what you would want to do if you had the money.

Berrey said the tribe is talking with the City of Joplin, Mo., and the City of Baxter Springs, Kan., about supplying water and wastewater treatment infrastructure and facilities for the project. Joplin plans to annex nearby property that would connect the planned site of the 140-acre casino and resort to the city.

“Wastewater treatment is a problem in southeastern Kansas, Berrey said. “Maybe with this project we can help provide some solutions to this problem."

At a Tuesday morning groundbreaking on the 140-acre site of the Downstream Casino and Resort project, Berrey also announced that the Quapaw Tribe would partner with Loma Linda Country Club so that resort guests could play golf while visiting the tribe's hotel.

“This is terrific for all of us, said Bobby Landis, owner and chief executive officer of the club. “We're looking forward to making some updates and improvements to the courses, and we anticipate picking up a good bit of new business from out-of-state visitors as a result of this partnership with Downstream.

Berry said the tribe would finance improvements to cart paths and irrigation at Loma Linda's two 18-hole golf courses and would also provide the club with payments for each round played by casino and resort guests.

The tribe's Downstream Casino and Resort project sits at the juncture of the Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas state lines in the northeast corner of Ottawa County. The hotel and casino tower will be built in Oklahoma, the majority of parking will be in Kansas and the entrance to the development will be in Missouri, just off Interstate 44. All three states, and northwest Arkansas, will be the primary market focus for the casino and resort.

A rival casino is planned for a site nearby in Kansas. That project will be constructed by Penn National Gaming at a cost of $250 million and could open as soon as the summer of 2009.

When opened next summer, the Quapaw Tribe's casino and resort is expected to employ approximately 1,200 people and have an annual payroll of about $40 million. Penn National's Hollywood Casino is expected to employ about 650 and have a payroll of $32 million.

“We welcome (Penn National's casino), Berrey said. “It sounds like it's going to be a nice place and that's just going to attract more people to our area. We're all going to share in the success of these ventures and we'll be bringing a lot of jobs to the region.

Earthwork on the first phase of the casino and hotel project began recently. Phase 1 is expected to cost about $200-million. Once completed, the first phase of the project will include a 70,000-square-foot casino, a 225-room, 12-story hotel, a 200-seat buffet restaurant, a 90-seat steak house, a 24-hour food court, a sports bar, and a pool with a 10,000 square-foot deck, Berrey said.

“The casino floor will accommodate 2,000 slot machines and also have space for 30 table games and 15 poker tables, Berrey said. “We'll have retail shopping on the first level.

The tribe also plans an 8,800-square-foot convention and entertainment center for the site.

Additional phases could include a second hotel tower and a retail shopping project that would be located in Kansas.