The transportation commission approved a grant to help improve access to the new Rhythm City land-based casino in Davenport.

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved funding for road projects for eastern and northeast Iowa Tuesday that will help a sunflower seed company and a casino. Craig Markley with the Department of Transportation says the city of Davenport will receive up to $3 million for roadway improvements and a round-about.

“To assist with the re-location of the Rhythm City Casino, as well as their development of an indoor/outdoor entertainment center that includes a sports tournament complex, a water park, things like that,” Markley says. The casino is moving from the Mississippi River to the intersection Interstates 80 and 74 at the edge of Davenport. The award is what’s called a Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy or RISE grant. In this case the award is based on increasing visitors to the area.

“They’re projected to roughly double their employment as well as double their revenue due to that move,” Markley says. “All of that development that the commission provided funding for is estimated to be around 800,000 visitors per year — and that’s an increase of 800-thousand visitors per year.” Construction is underway on the new casino, and it is expected to open by Memorial Day of next year.

The Transportation Commission also approved an award of $684,000 to Waterloo for the construction roadways to help with a business expansion. “ConAgra is bringing their David brand sunflower and pumpkin-seed line to Iowa — consolidating facilities from St. Louis and Fresno, California — bringing them to the Waterloo facility that’s located up next to the airport,” Markley explains. He says the project is expected to bring in new jobs and other benefits to Waterloo.

“Fifty-seven new jobs, almost $64 million in capital investment, very good wages — $22.26 an-hour — which is 140 percent of the average labor shed wage rate for Waterloo, according to Markley. Waterloo also received a second award Tuesday for almost $190,000 to improve access for and expansion of BGM and Associates.

He says they are a home medical equipment provider that is expanding at the U.S. Highway 20 interchange and Ansbourough Road on the northwest side of Waterloo. Markley says the roadway improvements will also make other land available for development in the area. The grants for each of the projects are for half of their cost and the cities are each providing the other half of the money.