By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama business leaders Harold Ripps and Frank Bromberg III have joined the Alabama Jobs Foundation as the group’s newest directors.
Former Auburn University Football Coach and Athletics Director Pat Dye is the President of the Foundation. President Dye said in a statement, “These two men will bring a wealth of business experience to our cause: letting the people of Alabama vote on an education lottery and casino gaming. This addition to the Foundation Board of Directors is further proof of the momentum we are building in the business community and throughout Alabama for Sen. Marsh’s plan.”
Harold Ripps said in a statement, “The Marsh Plan will have a billion dollar impact on the Alabama economy, and enhance the tourism and hospitality industries and there is no question in my mind that this plan can transform the city of Birmingham into a world-class destination location. It is time to let the people of Alabama decide this question for themselves.”
Mr. Ripps has been the Chief Executive Officer of The Rime Company since 1969. Mr. Ripps is a real estate developer and owner of The Rime Companies. At The Rime Company, Mr. Ripps oversaw the development and construction of approximately 15,000 multifamily apartment units in the southeastern United States. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Birmingham Southern College and sits on the President’s Council of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Frank Bromberg said, “With the passage of this amendment, we can create 11,000 new jobs throughout our state. At the same time, an education lottery and college scholarship program will provide important new investments for our education system, and that attracts jobs, too.”
Bromberg is the executive vice president at Bromberg’s, which has operated in Alabama for 179 years. Mr. Bromberg is on the Advisory Board of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also serves on the President’s Cabinet at the powerful University of Alabama.
Senator Marsh has proposed a Constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the people on gaming. The Marsh Plan, if passed in a referendum, would create the Alabama Lottery Corporation and the Alabama Education Lottery; allow slot machines and table games at the four existing racetracks where gaming is currently legal in Mobile, Macon County, Greene County and Birmingham; and authorize the Governor to negotiate a compact for gaming with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Alabama lottery and casino gaming would create a $1.2 billion annual economic impact for the state of Alabama, and generate almost $400 million in new revenue for state programs, according to a new research study by the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency at Auburn University of Montgomery.
In addition, the study found that more than 11,000 new jobs would be created if casino gaming were allowed at the current facilities located in Mobile, Birmingham, Macon and Greene County.
The Foundation was founded in January by Coach Pat Dye, retired Alabama Power CEO Charles McCrary, and Chairman and the CEO of Harbert Management Company Raymond Harbert. The foundation was created as a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization. It’s stated purpose is to raise money to promote passage of the Marsh amendment. Foundation activities can and will include recruiting additional business leaders to the group, staffing and operating the Foundation, lobbying members of the Alabama Legislature, educating the public, and funding advertising campaigns to voters.
In November, when Republicans easily trounced pro-gambling Democrats for the second time in four years, promising a smaller state government and no new taxes, many political analysts thought the lottery was a dead issue in Alabama. Shockingly however gambling was brought back from that dark place where tired old ideas go to die by one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, Senate President Del Marsh (R from Anniston), in the middle of the 2015 legislative session as an alternative to massive tax increases promoted by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R).