Monday, December 05, 2016
Ind. Gov't. - "How the Pokagon Band went from a small tribe to a business powerhouse" [Updated]
Updating a long list of earlier ILB posts* referencing the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the South Bend Tribune had two stories this weekend by Kevin Allen:
- "How the Pokagon Band went from a small tribe to a business powerhouse: Pokagons drive jobs, development beyond casinos," is a long story focused on economic issues. A sample:
Today, the tribe’s land holdings cover 7,000 acres in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.
Gaming has been the main source of revenue behind the growth, but Pokagon leaders are using that money to diversify into different businesses as well as invest in housing, health and education programs for the tribe’s citizens. They have built 66 homes in a tribal village in Dowagiac and opened the first phase of a 74-unit village in Hartford earlier this year.
“It’s just like the Indiana Lottery uses the lottery system to fund some of their programs in the state. That’s what gaming is to the tribe — it’s a catalyst to fund our government services,” Warren said.
“A lot of it has to do with health, the loss of our language and culture, loss of a land base to exercise our sovereignty as a nation,” he said. “And to develop economically so we could create jobs.”
The tribe opened Four Winds Casino near New Buffalo in 2007. Since then, the Pokagons have opened two more casinos, in Dowagiac and Hartford.
While tribal casinos aren’t required to disclose financial information, the Pokagons release slot machine figures as part of a revenue-sharing agreement with the state of Michigan. Those numbers offer a peek at the profitability of the tribe’s gaming operations. The slot machines alone at the tribe’s Michigan casinos generate an average of $320 million a year in revenue, according to data from the state Gaming Control Board.
The Pokagons have branched into other ventures as well. They formed a diversified holding company named Mno-Bmadsen in 2012 with the help of a consultant from the Harvard Project on American Indian Development.
Mno-Bmadsen — which means “walking the good path” in the Potawatomi language — now includes six companies that were started or acquired, with more than 250 employees and annual revenues in excess of $60 million.
Those companies provide balance to the Pokagons’ gaming operations, and they also provide different career pathways for the tribe’s members. The holdings span a variety of industries, from plastics engineering and tooling to architecture, construction and mechanical contracting.
They’re also geographically diversified, with a presence in the Chicago, Indianapolis and Kalamazoo areas, as well as the Michiana region around South Bend.
And Pokagon leaders want to continue expanding their holdings by starting new companies and buying existing ones.
The strategy so far has been to invest in industries that are complementary.
For example, the construction, engineering and architecture firms can work together to develop the tribe’s buildings, as well as commercial and government projects.
- " Pokagons have history of determination, survival: Nearly forced off land, Pokagons set stage for comeback," gives a brief history of the Pokagon Band.
[Updated] A new, long story this morning by the SBT's reporter Allen, headed "Pokagon plan ups pressure on casinos: The tribe's South Bend site may challenge existing gaming operations." It begins:
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ entrance into the casino business and its expansions in that industry have all been in Michigan — a state where tribes own more than 20 casinos.
But the Pokagons’ next step in expanding its gaming operations is in Indiana — which doesn’t have any tribe-owned casinos but relies on state-regulated casinos as a significant source of tax revenue.
The Pokagons’ plan to build a large casino as part of a tribal village with housing and health facilities on South Bend’s southwest side will remake that corner of the city. It also could have wide-ranging impacts on other casinos in Indiana.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 5, 2016 09:41 AM
Posted to Indiana Government