Wilbur Leads Tribal Economic Development Momentum
What to Watch: What will make headlines in 2019?
What will we be reading and hearing about this year? From big changes in key community leadership positions to medical marijuana businesses in Traverse City, the TCBN has once again compiled a list of the people, places and products that we predict will be making headlines in 2019.
Below are five items from the What to Watch list. See the January print edition for the entire list, which includes updates on the home sharing debate, a proposed child care center, Sugar Loaf, a new mobile wine bottling service, and much more.
“Expect Tom Wilbur, the new CEO of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians’ non-gaming arm, Grand Traverse Economic Development Corp. (GTED), to begin making waves in early 2019. Earlier in 2018, Wilbur told the TC Ticker, “This is a progressive tribe that recognized the need to diversify…and they want to diversify and enter the lucrative federal arena,” referencing the fact that he wanted to help the tribe contract with the federal government, the world’s largest buyer of goods and services.
Native American tribes enjoy certain minority set-asides and incentives within the federal budget. With its SBA 8(a) designation required to access those set-asides all but assured, GTED is now focused on the acquisition of a local manufacturing business to jump-start its efforts.
Wilbur says GTED plans to start or acquire at least one business per year for the next five years, and secure federal contracts for each company. “We will look at industries that are easily transferrable into the federal arena,” he said, including engineering, manufacturing, IT, and security “because tribes typically have expertise in those areas, or because the federal government has needs in those areas.
Traverse Connect CEO Doug Luciani says the tribe’s entry into federal contracting could yield big benefits for the entire region. “It’s a smart, fast way to create high-paying, sustainable jobs in the region – not just for tribal members, but for all of northern Michigan. If successfully implemented, this new direction for the GT Band could well be one of the more significant economic drivers our region has seen…” said Luciani.”
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