I hope this letter finds all doing well and that you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. I would like to wish each of you a happy and prosperous New Year.
The past year was a great year for our tribal nation, as we saw many projects completed and many tribal services added. Our tribal Social Service budget went from $440,050.00 in 2009 to $1,241,850.00 this budget year. Our scholarship amounts have gone from $500.00 a semester, 3 years ago, to $2,000.00 per semester, beginning with this spring semester. Our tribal staff is always looking for ways that we can add and improve upon the services we provide to our citizens. We are looking forward to this New Year and the changes that it will bring.
On the Economic Development side of things, last year was the best year that we have had to date. In a tough economic climate, we were able to see a 30% increase in total profits from all of our economic entities. Our 7th Street Casino, in Kansas City, posted double digit growth again for the third straight year. Jean Yuen, our General Manager, and her staff continue to do an outstanding job of curtailing cost and increasing profits. As I stated at Annual Meeting, due to the 12 years of litigation and the cost of development, the Tribe assumed a large amount of debt on the project but has since been able to eliminate a large portion of that debt and is starting to see more earnings come to the Nation. The Nation should have all of the debt and the development cost eliminated in the next 3 years and will then see the full profits of the casino coming back directly to the Nation. Our two casinos in the Wyandotte community continue to hold their own, in spite of competing with 11 other casinos in Ottawa County. We have seen our traffic counts and our coin-in numbers both rise this past year and have made several changes that we hope will pay off this upcoming year. We have a great team of employees at the Wyandotte Nation Casino and the Lucky Turtle Casino, who continually are looking for ways to improve our casino properties.
Our Small Business Administration 8A businesses continue to do well in spite of several rule changes made by Congress this past year. Bearskin Services was named the “8A Small Business of the Year” by the Department of Energy in 2011 and has now been nominated for the SBA Prime Contractor of the Year Award. We were awarded several new contracts, with the biggest of those being a Department of Energy contract at the Western Power Administration in Folsom, California.
This past year, we purchased Howard Machine Shop in Carthage, MO and renamed it Wyandotte Precision Products. It has been relocated to the Bearskin Building at the Joplin Airport in Joplin, MO. In the future, we plan on applying for an 8A designation for this business and competing for federal contracts in the aerospace and defense industry. All in all, it has been a very busy but productive year for the Wyandotte Nation. Personally, I had the opportunity to speak at two national conferences. I was invited by Native Nations to speak in New Orleans on the subject of “Getting Land Into Trust for Gaming” and then was invited to speak in Washington, DC on the subject of “Reaping the Benefits of Native 8(A) Status”. I always enjoy these opportunities, as I am allowed the honor of telling others how great a Tribe the Wyandotte Nation is to be a part of.
As always, it is with great honor that I serve you as Chief of the Wyandotte Nation. If you are in the area, my door is always open for a visit. Until next time, may God watch over and protect you and yours. “I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2