Here is a round up of business news from Indian Country.
- Brimley, Mich.-based Bay Mills Resort & Casinos has extended its voluntary closure through Dec. 17, citing rising COVID-19 case numbers and exposure in the surrounding eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The operation of the Bay Mills Indian Community closed for a second time this year on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The closure was originally planned to last through Dec. 9. In a Twitter thread, Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland said the tribe would continue to pay employees through the extended closure and had reserved some of its CARES Act funding in the case of a second closure. Newland called on the federal government to pass additional relief for tribal, state and local governments. “The more types of relief, and the more valuable it is, provides more options for us to tailor our operations to address our problems,” he said in the post.
- The Ute Mountain Ute tribe has temporarily closed its Ute Mountain Casino Hotel in Towaoc, Colo. to help the tribe control the local spread of COVID-19. The indefinite closure began on Dec. 7. According to a report in Farmington Daily Times, General Manager Rick Scheer called the move a “difficult decision” made to ensure the safety of tribal members and the surrounding community. He said the facility could reopen around the holidays. The Ute Mountain Ute tribe operates a 90-room hotel, casino, restaurant and gift shop in Towaoc.
- The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians worked with the state of North Carolina to amend its gaming compact to open sportsbooks at its casinos, according to a report in Cherokee One Feather. Tribal Council must first vote on the compact amendment, which also needs to be approved by the Department of the Interior, before the sportsbook can open. “COVID-19 has negatively impacted funding for critical community services within our Nation, so we welcome this new diverse revenue stream. The addition of these new services is a positive step towards a more stable and secure future for our Tribal members and government operations,” Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in the report.
- The Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council (SCMSDC) honored Tracy Stanhoff (Prairie Band Potawatomi) during its 36th Annual Leadership Excellence Awards. Stanhoff, who serves as president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Califironia, was recognized with the Progressive Leadership Award. “I was pleasantly surprised and greatly humbled by this recognition from such a wonderful organization as the SCMSDC. Our American Indian Chamber is celebrating our 25th year of existence and we have partnered with the SCMSDC from the start. This partnership has been great for our Native American business community as we have connected, developed and grown numbers of our people’s enterprises together,” Stanhoff said in a statement.
- Stephanie Bryan, tribal chair and CEO of the Atmore, Ala.-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians, was elected to serve on the board of directors for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, according to a report in Yellowhammer News. Chamber President Anna Buckalew called the tribe a “catalyst for growth and progress throughout our entire state.” The Poarch Band’s Wind Creek Hospitality operates a pair of casinos in the Montgomery area.
- St. Louis-based Arcadian Infracom said last week that it closed on a $1.45 million financing round, which was led by senior executives in the communications infrastructure industry. The internet infrastructure development, construction and operations company said the new funding will allow it to accelerate its construction timeline for its main fiber routes. Earlier this fall, Navajo Nation voted to create a direct relationship with the company, which is developing a long-haul fiber optic cable network between major data centers in the Southwest. Arcadian Infracom is focusing first on building a fiber network across Navajo Nation that will link data centers in Phoenix to similar facilities in Salt Lake City and Denver, with plans for a second route connecting the reservation to Los Angeles and Dallas. Once operational, the fiber networks will provide Navajo Nation with direct connections to high-capacity connectivity, enabling the tribe to fully participate in the 21st century’s connected economy.
- Las Vegas, Nev.-based Boyd Gaming Corp. has purchased an abandoned mall development site in Elk Grove, Calif. from Howard Hughes Corp. for an undisclosed sum, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee. The company is working with the 700-member Wilton Rancheria Tribe, which owns an adjacent 36-acre parcel, to develop the $400 million Wilton Rancheria Elk Grove Resort and Casino. An executive with Boyd Gaming previously told analysts that the company expected the casino to open in late 2022.
- The American Dental Association called on the House and Senate Appropriations committees to support the House’s request of $222 million for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Dental Program in the final 2021 Department of the Interior appropriations bill. ADA President Daniel Klemmedson and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin wrote in a letter to the committees that the dental program “works to raise the oral health status of the American Indian/Alaska Native population through the provision of quality preventive and treatment services, at both community and clinic sites. In the letter, the ADA also asked the committees for designated funding to expand the IHS Dental Clinical and Preventive Support Centers and commended lawmakers for supporting the IHS Electronic Dental Record system, which is now working in 244 IHS federal, tribal and urban dental clinics. The ADA requested an additional $3 million in funding to upgrade the system and expand to more centers.