Study: Tribal non-gaming businesses bring millions to the Upper Peninsula


MICHIGAN (WJMN) – An economic impact study across the state of Michigan found non-gaming tribal businesses generated more than $288 million in 2019. Nearly $40 million of that came from the Upper Peninsula.

This first of its kind collaboration among Michigan tribes was commissioned by 38 non-gaming business entities owned, controlled and managed by the following tribes in Michigan:

• Hannahville Indian Community
• Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
• Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
• Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
• Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians
(Gun Lake Tribe)
• Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians
• Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
• Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
• Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

“We like to collaborate, work with our fellow tribes across the country,” said Joel Schultz, executive director for economic development for Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “And we also thought there was benefit in the state of Michigan, and others who will see the report and understand that our impact goes beyond gaming. We are diversifying those revenues and to regional economic projects. It was for me, personally, it was also an exercise for us to start defining a lot of good things we have going on as a tribe.”

The study was coordinated and published by Waséyabek Development Company. Waséyabek Development Company, LLC, is a 100% tribally owned holding company that manages the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi’s non-gaming economic development activities.

“This survey proves that [Michigan tribes] are very relevant, very solid business partners, we can be counted on,” said Deidra Mitchell, president/CEO of Waséyabek Development Company. “So, for those larger companies that are looking for minority suppliers to fulfill their diversity and inclusion goals, we are a very good bet. We are a very safe bet. We’ve got companies that are successful, reliable, and growing in the state of Michigan.”

According to the study, the total economic impact of non-gaming tribal businesses in 2010 was $39,689,899.24. That equates to $12,023,465.93 in labor income between 229 jobs. That averages out to more than $52,000 a year per job.

According to the release, the study was co-authored by Jon Panamaroff, chief compliance officer & senior vice president of business integration for Koniag Government Services and chief executive officer of the Kodiak Brown Bear Center in Kodiak, Alaska. The MEDC provided underwriting.

The 38 businesses that were subjects of the study are all minority-owned and operated and
produce economic activity in 11 industry sectors, including utilities; construction; manufacturing;
retail trade; finance and insurance; real estate and rental & leasing; professional, scientific, and
technical services; management of companies & enterprises; administrative, support, waste
management and remediation services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and
accommodation and food service.

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