BATTLE CREEK, MI – The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), owners of FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, announced that outstanding performance in 2021 has established new records for contributions to the State of Michigan and the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB). A combined $27.4 million in contributions created check presentations of just over $21 million to the State of Michigan and $6.3 million to the FireKeepers LRSB.
Lifetime combined revenue sharing payments now exceed $260 million. Payments to state and local recipients have exceeded the prior 12 months every year, with the exception of 2020, when the casino was closed for nearly three months due to the onset of COVID-19. This year’s payment to the State of Michigan totals more than $21 million, more than double the 2021 contribution and an increase of 11.4 percent over the 2019 allocation. The new payment to the FLRSB of over $6.39 million is 30 percent higher than one year ago and 9.2 percent better than 2019. This brings the total monies NHBP has contributed to the State of Michigan to over $194,538,497 million and $66,134,179 million to the FLRSB and creates a combined lifetime contribution, which totals $260,672,586.
Two checks were presented from NHBP and FireKeepers. The state check was presented to Michigan District 63 State Representative Matt Hall while the FLRSB check was presented to Chairperson Joe Caron.
“Record revenue sharing distributions represent both the tribe’s continued substantial investments in this award-winning property and the dedication of our team members to deliver outstanding guest service,” said Jamie Stuck, Tribal Council Chairperson for the NHBP. “Management and staff faced extreme labor shortfalls and waves of COVID variants, as we built and opened a beautiful hotel tower and additions to our casino and restaurant offerings.”
FireKeepers has increased its employee base to 2,082 team members, another sign of its increasing economic value to the region. The focus on increasing jobs and providing an outstanding package of salaries and benefits is illustrated by cumulative paid labor costs, which totaled $92.7 million in 2021, an increase of 20.8 percent over 2020. Since opening, the labor total exceeds $815.7 million. This investment includes total wages, health insurance, 401k match and incentives.
“The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi are the best owners in the hospitality industry,” said Kathy George, Chief Executive Officer at FireKeepers Casino Hotel. “They invested in a beautiful second hotel tower and expansion of our resort, which will allow us to host and attract more guests to the local community. They provided strong incentives, leading wages, health benefits and twice-yearly bonuses for our team members. I am so proud of our team members for dealing with multiple challenges throughout the year, while continuing to welcome and appreciate the thousands of guests who visit us daily.”
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 a 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 monies raised in the Community Fund. $8,000 was presented to the South Michigan Food Bank, for their work to eliminate hunger, helping to ensure people have access to the nutrition they need to succeed.
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 2021, this fund provided financial assistance and/or reimbursement to eleven schools and educational services 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 the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (Kalamazoo RESA), providing funds to expand the Kalamazoo County Native American Family Meet Ups program, along with Okemos Public Schools to rebrand to a new mascot that is culturally responsive, and public school projects in Traverse City, Saugatuck, Sault Area, East Jordan, Northport, the Vivian Riddle Elementary School in Lansing, Rochester Community Schools, Michigan Technical University and Michigan College Access Network (MCAN)/Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College.
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. Therefore, spending in the State of Michigan, especially in local areas, grew substantially in awarding contracts in excess of $71.2 million in 2021 and exceeding $656 million lifetime.
The check presented to the FLRSB is the 13th distribution since the first distribution in Feb. 2010, when the NHBP presented a check to the FLRSB for nearly $2 million. The $66,134,179 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