Report: Non-gaming tribal impact in region totals about $13.8M by Manistee News Advocate

Report: Non-gaming tribal impact in region totals about $13.8M

Little River Holdings CEO weighs in on study
By Arielle Breen, [email protected]
Published 4:56 pm EDT, Thursday, October 1, 2020


MANISTEE COUNTY — A report published this summer highlighted the economic impacts from nine Native American tribes in Michigan in a study, and it used data from 2019 to show a broader picture of how their business entities contributed to the state’s economy and the regions within.

The study only included non-gaming business entities of the tribes, and most tribes in the state participated.

Little River Holdings is the economic development entity of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which was included in the study.

Eugene Magnuson, chief executive officer for Little River Holdings, said “The group came together and (said) ‘Let’s go ahead and pool our information, provide a report and we could share with the governor and other organizations about the impact that tribes’ non-gaming economic has in the state of Michigan.'”

“When we have that actual data, we can share with the state of Michigan for example,” Magnuson said. “Sometimes, we’re not invited to the table, so to speak, to participate in studies for opportunities for the tribal nations and so when we’re able to share this data, then people stand up and take notice.”

The Michigan Non-gaming Tribal Economic Impact Study was done by a two-person research team and was underwritten by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, according to a news release from Waséyabek Development Company, LLC, which is a tribally-owned holding company for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.

According to the report, “We trust that this study will help guide the planning and coordination among tribes and policymakers at the local, state and federal level. Our hope is that this planning and coordination will support the tribes’ efforts to attract and deploy resources in tribal communities and in communities throughout Michigan.”

The report said all 12 federally recognized tribes in the state have some type of economic activities that are not related to gaming.

Magnuson added that the study was done before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this study looked at data from last year, Magnuson said the study is expected to be done again.

“Now, we’re looking at doing it again for 2020, so then we’ll be looking at (it) during COVID. We’ll probably do it again in 2021,” Magnuson said. “Generally, you don’t do it every year, but we thought as a group we would probably try to do that. … It would be interesting to see what that data turns out for impact of COVID and all that.”


Here are some of the highlights from the Michigan Non-gaming Tribal Economic Impact Study’s report that used 2019 data and was published this summer:

  • Northwest Michigan region showed a total economic impact of about $13.8 million.
  • Northwest Michigan region showed a total of 83 jobs added.
  • The southwestern region showed the largest total economic impact at $163 million.
  • Overall, the report showed a direct impact of about $200 million to the economy in the state.
  • The secondary impact statewide was shown to have been about $58 million.
  • Statewide, the business entities had a combined asset base of at least $343.5 million and a combined revenue of least $228.4 million.

But while the study highlights were shared with a news release highlighting the accomplishments and a report, privacy was also mentioned alongside a regional map within the study’s report.

“It is important to note that this analysis is specific to each region and data is summarized,” the report said. “The data submitted by the participating tribes is confidential. The researchers performed a double-blind study and cannot determine which information came from which TBE (tribal business entities.)”

The study was commissioned by non-gaming business entities that are owned, controlled and managed by the 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 Potawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe), Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The release states that those tribes’ total of 38 business entities in the study “produce economic activity in 11 industry sectors, including utilities; construction; manufacturing; retail trade; finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; professional, scientific, and technical services; management of companies and enterprises; administrative, support, waste management and remediation services; arts, entertainment and recreation; and accommodation and food service.”

The report also included a contextual timeline section that highlights certain eras with corresponding initiatives, government imposed hardships, laws and impacts dating back to before 1492. The current age is listed as the Economic Empowerment Era from 2009 to the present.

The current era is listed as having aspects like the Small Businesses Jobs Act of 2010 and “Economic progress strengthened the need and desire of tribes to plan for multiple generations.”

Magnuson also referenced the need to be thinking ahead, diversification of revenue and planning for future generations.

“It would be hard to continue relying all your economic opportunities in one basket. If we diversify our revenue streams through non-gaming economic development, then we’ll be stronger as a nation moving forward,” he said emphasizing that he was speaking from his perspective on the matter. “What we do today, will affect the next seven generations.”

He also tied in the need to plan for future generations in the creation of Little River Holdings in the first place.

Little River Holdings was created in January 2018.

On its website, Little River Holdings shows five actively managed investment portfolios. There are limited liability corporations under Little River Holdings — a health technologies, government contracting, development, real estate management, capital management and Native Source Procurement Services.

Magnuson said Little River Holdings is working on a list of projects like the Spirit of the Woods Gateway Project — that was announced publicly last month and is expected to start in downtown Manistee soon, the upcoming Hillcrest Apartment project in Manistee, government contracting work and other avenues that are in action but have not yet been announced or finalized.

“We’d also like to look at being involved in the retail space and trying to bring to market some of our proprietary products that we have, and we’re working on that as we speak,” he said hinting at upcoming activities this year.