MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Navajo Nation said it acquired 1,250 acres of land near Indian Wells, including the fully-operational Brimhall Sand and Rock gravel pit. The acquisition allows Navajo Nation to reduce the cost of sand and gravel used in road-improvement projects in the tribe’s communities, President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.

It currently costs the Navajo Nation $2 million to $3 million to pave one mile of road due to the high cost of transporting road materials from suppliers located off the Nation, according to Nez.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.  

CASINOS

The Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Council approved a $30 million expansion of the Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Mich. The addition on the south end of the current 11-story tower will add 100 hotel rooms and a pool with a water park. Beldenvilled, Wisc.-based Quintus 3D was selected to lead the architectural and engineering aspects of the project. Gundlach Champion, based in Iron Mountain, Mich., was chosen to oversee the construction management of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in June with expected completion during the 2021 calendar year.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a memorandum of understanding and agreement with the Tule River Indian Tribe on the proposed relocation of Eagle Mountain Casino, according to media reports. The Tribe wants to move the casino from its reservation to land that it owns in nearby Porterville, Calif. The move was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs last October, three years after the Tule River requested it. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development added three new members to its board of directors:  William D. Lowe (Muscogee Creek Nation), who currently works as HR director of Bacone College; Lynn Dee Rapp (Ogala Sioux Tribe), managing partner of SeaCrest Investment Management; and Jana Turvey (Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak), president and CEO of Alaska Native Village Corporation. The new board members will be formally introduced and participate in their first official board meeting during the upcoming Reservation Economic Summit (RES), March 1 -5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wisconsin-based Lac du Flambeau Business Development Corporation announced it had hired Dan Bonavia as its first corporate retail director. Bonavia will lead development efforts to identify and expand retail operations for LDF BDC, which is the non-gaming business development arm of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.  He will build on the development of a new retail center, scheduled to open in summer 2020, and replace the existing LDF Country Market, according to a statement.    

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Indiana Tech announced a new scholarship program for employees of the Tribe’s government as well as people employed by the portfolio companies managed by its investment arm, Mno-Bmadsen.  Recipients will receive a scholarship equal to 20 percent of annual standard tuition and other benefits including textbook rental, on-demand access to online tutoring at no charge, as well as support from Indiana Tech’s Career Center.

AGRIBUSINESS

A new fund will provide grants to support Native American food producers and support Tribal nations in their efforts to revitalize ancient food systems, according to a story in FoodTank. The Native American Agriculture Fund is a private charitable spend-down trust that came out as part of a legal settlement in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack lawsuit, which alleged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discriminated against Native farmers and ranchers in loan programs. The new fund will provide grants to eligible entities, including tribal governments, community development financial institutions (CFDIs), educational institutions and nonprofits that provide services to Native American farmers, ranchers and other food producers.    

ENERGY

Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, announced plans to switch to 100 percent carbon-neutral power generation by 2050. The Phoenix-based utility owns and operates the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington, N.M. that uses coal from a mine in the Navajo Nation that primarily employs Native American workers, according to a report in The Wichita Eagle. The media outlet noted that the APS move “a sharp turnaround from a company that spent tens of millions of dollars two years ago to fight a ballot measure requiring it to use renewable sources.”     

GRANTS

Robeson Community College was awarded two grants totaling $136,778 from the Native American Agriculture Fund, according to Robesonian, the school’s publication. The grants will fund 10 scholarships over two years to American Indian students who have an interest in agriculture. This will be paired with RCC and N.C. State University’s PackTrac, a collaborative program that provides academic training and advice to students passionate about agriculture and those who wish to earn a degree from NCSU.

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Author: Native News Online Staff