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INDIAN GAMING HAS POSITIVE IMPACT ON MICHIGAN

 LANSING, Mich., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released by the Committee for Reservation Economic Development:
 Native American tribal chairs across Michigan today said they hoped Attorney General Frank J. Kelley would consider the positive economic impact Native American casinos are having on northern Michigan and the state as he discusses gaming issues with Sen. Daniel Inouye, chair of the United States Senate's Select Committee on Indian Affairs.
 "We understand Mr. Kelley's longtime personal opposition to gaming," said Jeff Parker, chairman of the Committee for Reservation Economic Development. "But we would hope that he would take the time to visit Native American casinos in northern Michigan, look at how they are providing jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed, and talk to the people in the communities where they are located.
 "We think Mr. Kelley will see that our gaming operations are crime- free, have a positive effect on their communities, and are places for entertainment, not sources of vice."
 Parker noted that the loss of K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base will deprive northern Michigan of 1,000 civilian jobs. Closing down casinos in northern Michigan would take away more than 2,000 direct jobs, and countless indirect employment in nearby hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related jobs.
 Parker took issue with suggestions by Mr. Kelley that tribes are misusing money from the gaming operations. Revenues are plowed back into their local communities for new senior citizen centers, schools, day-care centers for mothers who are returning to school, housing for the homeless, health-care facilities, economic development programs and youth programs.
 In years past, Native Americans have been forced to rely on money from federal and state governments to help pay for these much needed programs -- and that money has been increasingly difficult to come by. Today, the tribes are moving toward self-sufficiency. And workers at the gaming enterprises are finding good jobs that increase self esteem.
 "Reducing gaming operations will force the state to spend more on programs for Native Americans. People who say the state isn't benefiting from tribal operations should look at the entire balance sheet," Parker said.
 Seven Native American tribes operate gaming enterprises on reservation property around northern Michigan, mostly in the Upper Peninsula. Those enterprises include casinos, bingo operations, restaurants and hotels, although not all tribes provide all facilities.
 In several counties, including Baraga, Chippewa, Leelanau and Mackinac, Native American gaming enterprises are the largest employer in the county; in Menominee County, the gaming operation is the second- largest employer.
 These are critical jobs in perennially depressed northern Michigan, where unemployment of 25 percent or higher is common. According to the University Associates survey, 37 percent of those working in Native American gaming enterprises were on welfare or other government assistance programs prior to getting their job; another 31 percent were unemployed; and another 10 percent were part-time workers who are now working full time.
 That means nearly 8 out of every 10 persons working in a Native American gaming enterprise would otherwise be out of a job, on welfare, or struggling to make ends meet. Indeed, according to a study by Lansing-based University Associates, tribal unemployment rates have dropped from an average of 65 percent prior to the advent of gaming to 23 percent today -- a figure that continues to drop.
 The value of those jobs to northern Michigan cannot be overstated. Including family members, nearly 7,000 persons rely on Native American gaming for their needs.
 "No past economic development effort has ever shown such a marked change on tribal unemployment as the Indian Gaming Industry," the University Associates study says.
 Native American gaming is a $41.8 million industry in northern Michigan, and is growing. Payrolls totaled about $13.5 million in 1991. In the last year, the seven tribes paid $3.9 million in state and federal employment taxes generated by workers in gaming enterprises. People who were once tax users are now taxpayers.
 Native American gaming enterprises are valued components of year- round tourism, a staple industry of northern Michigan. Some tourists come north and spend their money on the golf course; others stay at lavish hotels; others spend hundreds of dollars hunting and fishing. Now they have another outlet for recreation.
 For the last four years, the Native American tribes have been trying to negotiate a compact with the state of Michigan, as provided for in the Native American Gaming Act passed by Congress in 1988. They have been unsuccessful so far, first with the administration of Gov. James Blanchard and now with Gov. John Engler's administration. Legal action and negotiations are ongoing.
 "We hope that Mr. Kelley and Mr. Engler realize that the loss of the existing enterprises in northern Michigan would be a serious blow to the economy of a region that can ill-afford the loss of any further jobs," Parker said. "And it would be a tremendous loss to Native American peoples across Michigan."
 For further information on Native American gaming and the development of a compact with the state of Michigan, please contact David Waymire at Marketing Resource Group of Lansing, 517-372-4400.
 -0- 4/19/93
 /CONTACT: David Waymire or Donna Halinski of Marketing Resource Group, 517-372-4400, for the Committee for Reservation Economic Development/


CO: Committee for Reservation Economic Development ST: Michigan IN: SU:

KE-SD -- DE027 -- 7668 04/19/93 18:29 EDT
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Date:Apr 19, 1993
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