BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOTV)-The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), owners of FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, announced that combined lifetime revenue sharing payments to the State of Michigan and the Local Revenue Sharing Board have exceeded $233 million! Successfully facing the most challenging year in its 12 years of operation, with a Covid-19 closure of operation for 12-weeks and substantial reductions in active slot machines for the last seven months of the year, the casino still contributed combined payments of over $15.6 million to the State of Michigan and the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB).
The payment to the State of Michigan totals more than $10.7 million, while the payment to the FLRSB was over $4.9 million. This brings the total monies NHBP has contributed to the State of Michigan to over $173.4 million and $59.7 million to the FLRSB and creates a combined lifetime contribution which totals $233,184,521!
Two checks were presented from NHBP; the first for $10,770,893, presented to Michigan District 63 Representative. Matt Hall. The second check for $4,918,734, was presented to FLRSB Chairperson, Marshall Mayor, Joe Caron.
The funds distributed are part of a negotiated agreement between NHBP and the state for 2020 operations at NHBP’s FireKeepers Casino Hotel.
“Revenue sharing distributions are a source of enormous pride for NHBP Tribal Members, as well as the FireKeepers team,” stated Jamie Stuck, Tribal Council Chairperson of the NHBP. “To produce these numbers after being closed for 12-weeks truly speaks to the ability of our team to adapt to unforeseen and extremely difficult situations while retaining a focus on creating a safe environment for guests and delivering award-winning service.”
FireKeepers employs 1,802 Team Members, as one of the region’s leading employers. The focus on increasing jobs and providing an outstanding package of salaries and benefits is illustrated by cumulative paid labor costs since opening now exceeding $723 million. This investment includes total wages, health insurance, 401(k), and incentives. During the 12-week closure, the casino paid out more than $10 million in wages and benefits to displaced Team Members. FireKeepers was recently recognized by Forbes as one of the Best Mid-Sized Employers and a Best In-State Employer for these efforts.
“The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi are the best owners in the hospitality industry. They invested in paying wages and health benefits for our Team Members, throughout the shutdown, to maintaining and expanding the property as we plan for an exciting future,” stated Kathy George, Chief Executive Officer at FireKeepers Casino Hotel. “I am so proud of this group of Team Members who have risen above the countless challenges this past year has presented; and go above and beyond for our valued guests day after day.”
The tribe and the casino also focus on reinvesting in local communities, plus hundreds of charitable endeavors throughout Michigan and neighboring states through donations and sponsorships. The most significant investment is The Fire Hub restaurant in downtown Battle Creek, which opened in 2017, and combines an exciting restaurant and bakery concept with an adjacent dignified Kendall Street Food Pantry, operating as an agency of the South Michigan Food Bank. An example of The Fire Hub’s success is seen in the $18,000 raised in the Community Fund. $3,000 was presented to The Haven of Rest, an organization that gives hope to the homeless in Battle Creek through various programs including Shelter, GAIN access program which provides life skills to homeless children, life recovery programs, transitional living programs and other outreach programs in the community. $15,000 was presented to the South Michigan Food Bank.
FireKeepers expands its brand and sponsors major events such as the FireKeepers Casino 400, Michigan’s sole NASCAR Cup Series race, set for Aug. 22, 2021, at Michigan International Speedway and the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Golf Championship, a Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA tournament, to be held Aug. 6 – 8, at Battle Creek Country Club.
A 2016 Compact Amendment between NHBP and the State of Michigan provides for a payment of up to $500,000 per year of state revenue sharing payments to the Michigan Native American Heritage Fund. Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Chairperson Jamie Stuck and Vice Chairperson Dorie Rios are appointed members to the Heritage Fund Board. In 2020, this fund provided financial assistance and/or reimbursement to six local governments and educational institutions to defray the costs of projects that promote positive relationships and accurate information on the history and role of Michigan’s Indian tribes and Native Americans in the state. Grant recipients include Suttons Bay Public Schools to develop a land-based education curriculum, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College to expand its racial justice conference, Petosky Community Schools to remove unacceptable Native American Imagery across the school district, Clinton Community Schools to rebrand and adopt a new school mascot, Paw Paw Public schools to implement the new Red Wolves nickname and brand, City of Marquette to develop an interpretive Anishinaabe Public Art Project and Trail.
The NHBP has made a concentrated effort to focus FireKeepers Casino Hotel on supporting local businesses and suppliers and extend contributions to the local economy beyond the FLRSB and the distribution to the state. The Tribe’s consistent commitment to improving and expanding the FireKeepers property is highlighted by the hotel expansion currently in progress. Therefore, spending in the State of Michigan, especially in our local areas, grew substantially in awarding contracts in excess of $52.9 million in 2020 and exceeding $585 million.
• Greater Calhoun County Region $5.9 million (Calhoun, Jackson, Branch)
• West Michigan $10.6 million (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Grand Traverse, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, Van Buren)
• Lansing Area $58.9 million (Ingham, Eaton, Clinton)
• Metro Detroit $2.6 million (Wayne)
• Other $10.5 million (Chippewa, Genesee, Gratiot, Ionia, Livingston, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mecosta, Midland, Monroe, Newaygo, Oakland, Saginaw, St. Clair, Shiawassee, Washtenaw, Wexford)
The check presented to the FLRSB is the eleventh distribution since the first distribution in Feb. 2010, when the NHBP presented a check to the FLRSB for nearly $2 million. The $59,736,566 distributed to date have benefited a diverse array of groups, including:
• Harper Creek Community Schools
• Calhoun County Road Commission
• Emmett Township
• Calhoun County
• Calhoun Intermediate School District
• Kellogg Community College
• Willard Library
• Athens Township
• Marshall Township
• City of Marshall
• City of Battle Creek
• Athens Area Schools
• Village of Athens
• Battle Creek Public Schools
• Marshall Public Schools
• Lakeview School District
• Pennfield Schools