By Barry Snyder
In 2002, the Seneca Nation signed a gaming compact with the State of New York, under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That historic compact required the nation and the state to cooperate in the establishment of three “class III gaming” casino facilities, which included all of the offerings typical of Las Vegas-style casinos.
We have built a billion-dollar gaming business in Western New York, with our Seneca Niagara, Seneca Allegany and the newly expanded $130 million Seneca Buffalo Creek casinos. In the process, we have created thousands of jobs for Senecas and non-Senecas alike, and have become an important business partner for many local companies, thereby supporting numerous additional jobs in the Western New York economy.
To date, almost $1 billion in exclusivity funding has been paid to New York to support economic development of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca. As our gaming operations expand, the state and host cities can expect to continue receiving this critically needed revenue.
But our efforts to grow a strong sovereign economy aren’t limited to gaming. A diversified economic base not only benefits our nation but also that of our municipal neighbors. If the nation can start and grow businesses on and off of our territories, we are able to create a “collective benefit” for all of Western New York.
This includes establishing Seneca Holdings, an investment holding company whose mission is to provide sustainable economic success to the nation and its people; and the Seneca Nation Center for Business Growth, a small-business incubator providing advisory services and technical training for individuals.
Seneca Holdings generated more than $134 million of revenue in fiscal year 2012 and employs more than 75 people.
The Seneca Nation Center for Business Growth provides novice and seasoned entrepreneurs with an all-encompassing education. The training and support, knowledge and skills, and professional contacts embedded in the program have resulted in an increased likelihood of viability and profitability for incubator participants.
In order to keep our economic momentum on track, the nation has established the Seneca Commission for Economic Development to ensure the advancement of our economic sovereignty, identify targeted industry sectors that can best leverage the nation’s sovereign advantages and establish a formal mechanism to develop and execute a long-term economic development agenda and implementation plan for the nation both on and off our territories.
Western New York is home to Seneca Country. We are not a business that will leave for greener pastures. The Seneca Nation is here to stay and committed to being a positive social and economic force in our region.
Barry Snyder is president of the Seneca Nation.