The Senior PGA tournament for professional golfers is in Benton Harbor this week.
Famous golfers began practicing on the course Monday afternoon. Harbor Shore golf course was partially built on city owned land. Elected city leaders agreed to lease the property with the hope of attracting jobs and tourists to the region.
Herb Caldwell is Vice President of the Consortium for Community Development. The non-profit group tries to improve the community’s workforce skills. He says the group has helped more than 260 people get temporary jobs for the tour.
But Caldwell says the tournament is also bringing a sense of excitement and pride to its residents.
“People will walk away from this – not only the people internally who live here – with a different perspective on their community but the people who will visit here will now have a different picture of Benton Harbor,” Caldwell said.
But not everyone is pleased.
Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan with an average household income of $17,000 a year. The city government is under the control of an emergency manager.
A meeting of the Benton Harbor City Commission Monday night was interrupted by chants against the PGA tournament.
Reverend Edward Pinkney is a longtime activist against city development plans. He says those who are in favor of the event are the ones making money off of it.
“They’re using each one of us against the other person. Conquer and divide,” Pinkney said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Pinkney plans to lead protest marches every morning during the tournament beginning Wednesday.