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Gun Lake Tribe and MEDC reach partial settlement over revenue sharing

BY MiBiz Staff Tuesday, July 26, 2016 09:42am

BRADLEY — After a more than year-long dispute over revenue sharing, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians said yesterday that it had come to a partial agreement with the state of Michigan.

The agreement reached by the two parties will allow for revenues derived from gaming to resume being shared with the state for education and economic development initiatives, according to a statement.

“This agreement is a win for all stakeholders due to the substantial benefits provided to tribal citizens, area high school students planning to attend college, and the public at large through economic development programs,” Chairperson Leah Sprague-Fodor said in a statement. “This creative solution to the revenue sharing impasse recognizes the legitimate position of both respective governments, and we applaud the State for negotiating with the Tribe to reach this agreement.”

Under the terms of the deal, the Gun Lake Tribe will resume sharing revenue with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. as well as create an endowment fund to provide tribal students and other high school graduates with financial assistance.

Additionally, the Tribe’s non-gaming investment arm, Gun Lake Investments LLC, will create an affiliate entity for other economic development initiatives.

As MiBiz has previously reported, the Tribe ceased sending money to the state over a dispute regarding internet gaming regulations. The withheld payments amounted to a $7 million budget shortfall at the time,according to a Detroit Free Press report.

As a result, the MEDC laid off 65 employees and took a 27 percent cut in funding.

Jeremy Hendges, chief deputy director for the Department of Talent and Economic Development, told MiBiz it’s too early to tell whether the organization might reinstate laid-off employees. He noted the organization will seek to utilize its resources in the most efficient manner.

“We appreciate the willingness of the Tribe to reach a partial solution on this issue,” MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said in a statement. “Dedicating a funding source for statewide economic development efforts benefits many communities that will see businesses and jobs grow because of these efforts.”

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