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Pokagon Tribe to Support City's Infrastructure Upgrades

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The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in northern Indiana aspires to build a village and casino in South Bend. Recently the tribe agreed to pay the city $400,000 for much-needed infrastructure improvements in the area.

The tribe currently owns and operates three gaming facilities in Michingan —the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo and two additional Four Winds Casinos in Hartford and Dowagiac. The proposed village and casino in South Bend would be the tribe's first gaming venture in the State of Indiana.

The tribe's $400,000 investment would help replace and upgrade sewer and water services to the village’s 166-acre development site, reported the Associated Press.

In a second agreement — still requiring approval from the South Bend Common Council — the Pokagon Band would make annual payments of 2 percent of its gaming profits, of which half would go directly to the city’s general fund, and the remainder to the South Bend Redevelopment Commission.

No federal or state government requires the Pokagon Band to reach such agreements with the city. The Pokagon Band Tribal Council and the Pokagon Gaming Authority Board of Directors have already signed off on both agreements.

Payments to the city would be dependent on the number of casino games — between 850 and 1,699, the city will get at least $ 1million; if more than 1,700 games, the city will receive at least $2 million, the AP reported.

“These are historic agreements for the City of South Bend with the region’s original inhabitants that will infuse millions of dollars into the economy and create hundreds of new jobs,” South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. “It is extraordinary to reach an agreement that will not only support the economy, but also provide much needed funding for community projects, local organizations and our schools.”

John Warren, chairman of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians, said the agreements will “serve as a bridge to greater cooperation and economic opportunity for Pokagon citizens, the city of South Bend and area residents.”

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is reviewing an environmental study of the tribe’s trust land application. Construction on the tribal village and Four Winds Casino cannot begin until the application is approved.

The tribe has an economic development authority, Mno Bmadsen, and a community development financial institution, Chi Ishobak. The two organizations are dedicated to improving the business and financial climate for both Band citizens and the region. Between multiple tribal government entities and its gaming enterprises in Michigan, the Pokagon Band has put more than 2,200 people to work, not including contract and temporary work like construction projects that have hired nearly 1850 tradespersons and 450 apprentices to work since 2010. Thanks to cooperative agreements between the Band and various local governments, the Band has paid nearly $71 million to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and more than $24 million to local governments in the New Buffalo area since 2007. The Pokagon Fund, a private foundation established by one cooperative agreement, has enhanced the lives of the residents in the New Buffalo area and near Pokagon Band communities in South Bend, Dowagiac, and Hartford by awarding $12.8 million to local governments and nonprofits since 2007.