BELL GARDENS ( — California Governor Jerry Brown was in the Southland Tuesday to announce the launch of a luxury hotel construction project in Bell Gardens.

Brown joined with State Senator Ricardo Lara, community business leaders, construction workers and elected officials to launch the new seven-story, 100-room Bicycle Casino Hotel.

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“I know all these newsies in the background wonder why a governor of California is coming to the opening of a poker club,” Brown said. “Well I’ll tell you why: I come from a long line of poker players.”

Brown said the $45 million hotel – which will employ 300 people during its construction phase and 250 permanent hospitality jobs in city faced with 16.3 percent unemployment – is another sign that economic activity in the region is on the rebound.

“Private sector investments such as the one being made by The Bicycle Casino are a strong vote of confidence in our economic future and I applaud them for taking this step,” Brown said in a statement.

Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who is running for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, said the construction project will draw both construction jobs and permanent employment in the coming years.

“You also have culinary arts, you also have chefs. So there’s a big demand for those jobs,” Solis said.

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The nearly 118,000-square-foot facility will feature an outdoor swimming pool with cabanas and a large deck, a spa and fitness center, a business and guest services area, and a brewpub and restaurant.

Gov. Brown declined to comment on plans to run for reelection, telling reporters “don’t worry, if I make any announcements, you’re going to be one of the first to hear.”

Brown did acknowledge a pricey fundraiser planned for next month, said to feature Hollywood executives who will add more than $50,000 each to Brown’s existing $3 million coffer.

Among the donors to Brown’s existing war chest is the Bicycle Casino itself, which has donated $15,000 to the reelection effort, according to the California Secretary of State’s website. The casino also donated nearly $52,000 to his 2010 election campaign and $25,000 to Proposition 30 efforts in the past.

The governor did not answer questions about the contributions Tuesday.

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Groundbreaking on the project is scheduled for November, with completion expected by Spring 2014.