Last year, voters in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approved $40 million in casino project spending. The KBIC has now decided to approve an additional $2 million in spending for infrastructure improvements for the casino, restaurant, hotel and Press Box.
In the initial approval of spending for the casino projects, $6.5 million was allocated for the Ojibwa Casino located in Baraga. The Ojibwa II in Marquette would use the bulk of the funds, $33.5 million, for renovations and expansion.
The additional funds are needed for improvements to the infrastructure of several areas of the casinos in order to ensure the new complex is able to function well. A major concern is the cost of plumbing for the new facility. Details of the exact use of the funds are covered within a change order made to the current contract with the contractor for the Baraga project, Gundlach Champion.
Councilman Rodney Loonsfoot stated that the community might not understand the spending, as the constitution of the tribe requires the voters must approve any spending above the amount of $500,000. The four areas that will use the additional funding have a cost of less than that amount each but come to a total close to $2 million. Because the spending is less than $500,000 for each area, the voters were not asked to weigh in on the matter.
The council of the tribe wants to make sure that the investment pays off so consultants have been hired to develop training techniques, policies and core values. The Ojibwa Casino General Manager, Don Wren, was given permission to hire a consulting company with $250,000 spent to hire Brad Worthley International. According to the Daily Mining Gazette, the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College will be working with the consultants to create programs that staff members can use to succeed in their positions for many years to come.