BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), owners of FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, today announced that combined lifetime revenue sharing payments to the State of Michigan and the Local Revenue Sharing Board have exceeded $217 million! The continued operating excellence of the property led to its fifth consecutive new annual contribution record, with combined payments of over $24.7 million to the State of Michigan and the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB).
Payments have increased every year except one time versus the prior year since the doors opened in August 2009. The payment to the State of Michigan totals more than $18.9 million, an increase of 2.31% over the 2019 payment, while the payment to the FLRSB of over $5.8 million is 1.86% higher than one year ago. This brings the total monies NHBP has contributed to the State of Michigan to over $162.7 million and $54.8 million to the FLRSB and creates a combined lifetime contribution which totals $217,494,894!
Two checks were presented from NHBP today; the first for $18,922,234 presented to Matt Hall, who represents the 63rd District in the Michigan House of Representatives, a region which includes FireKeepers Casino Hotel. The second check for $5,855,558 was presented to FLRSB Secretary Derek King, who is also a Calhoun County Commissioner.
The funds distributed are part of a negotiated agreement between NHBP and the state for 2019 operations at NHBP’s FireKeepers Casino Hotel.
“Contributing over $217 million creates an awesome impact for our state and local region and this announcement is a milepost of great pride for tribal members of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and the staff and management of FireKeepers Casino Hotel,” announced Jamie Stuck, Tribal Council Chairperson of the NHBP. “Consistently growing the business and expanding our base of loyal guests, who we attract from across Michigan, plus large sections of neighboring states such as Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, indicates our team is focused on delivering award-winning service experiences every day.”
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 an increase in labor costs of 3.77% in 2019 versus 2018, and cumulative paid labor costs since opening now exceeding $646 million. This investment includes total wages, health insurance, 401(k), and incentives.
“The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi are the best owners in the hospitality industry, providing a fantastic package of salaries and benefits to attract the spectacular men and women who form our great team, plus the substantial investment dollars to maintain and expand our resort. Every day we witness the physical manifestation of this support, as construction of our second hotel tower moves forward in anticipation of a grand opening late this year,” stated Kathy George, Chief Executive Officer at FireKeepers Casino Hotel. “I am so proud of the service our team delivers every day, and that’s what generates guest loyalty and return trips.”
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 Food Bank of South Central Michigan. Just one of many examples of the connected success of both the restaurant and food bank is a check presentation of $11,242 from 2019 restaurant proceeds, presented today to Peter Vogel, Executive Director of The Food Bank of South Central Michigan.
FireKeepers expands its brand and sponsors major events such as the FireKeepers Casino 400, a NASCAR Cup Series race, set for June 7 at Michigan International Speedway and the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Golf Championship, a Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA tournament, to be held July 24-26 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 2019, this fund provided financial assistance and/or reimbursement to seven 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 Northern Michigan University’s Anishinabek language programs for graduate and undergraduate programs and Godfrey-Lee Public Schools to rebrand to a culturally responsive mascot and nickname.
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 in 2019 by groundbreaking and early construction stages for a new 200-room hotel tower, due to be complete in late 2020. Therefore, spending in the State of Michigan, especially in our local areas, grew substantially in awarding contracts in excess of $52.9 million in 2019 and is just shy of the $500 million dollar mark since opening.
•Greater Calhoun County Region $7.3 million (Calhoun, Jackson, Branch)
•West Michigan $10.6 million (Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Grand Traverse, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, Van Buren)
•Lansing Area $16 million (Ingham, Eaton, Clinton)
•Metro Detroit $2.7 million (Wayne)
•Other $16.3 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. 2019 marks the seventh consecutive year where annual payments have exceeded $5 million. The $54,817,832 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