Seneca Nation Establishes Seneca Commission For Economic Development

The Seneca Nation of Indians has established the Seneca Commission for Economic Development to grow and diversify the nation’s public and private sector, to protect and advance the nation’s economic sovereignty, to promote job creation, to forge partnerships on and off territory, and to stimulate industrial, commercial, and residential growth in the Seneca Nation territories and throughout Western New York.

SCED was endorsed by President Barry E. Snyder Sr. and its charter was unanimously adopted by the Seneca Nation’s Tribal Council. SCED is recognized as a governmental arm of the nation. Start-up capital for initial investments will be advanced by the Seneca Nation.

“The Seneca Nation’s economy has grown significantly in the past several decades into a successful engine for regional economic growth;” said Snyder. “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.”

The Seneca Nation has built a billion-dollar gaming business in Western New York, with its Seneca Niagara, Seneca Allegany and the newly expanded $130 million Seneca Buffalo Creek casinos. In the process, the nation has created thousands of jobs for Senecas and non-Senecas alike, and has become an important business partner for many local companies, thereby supporting numerous additional jobs in the local and regional economy.

As a multi-faceted economic development entity, SCED will be governed by a diverse board of commissioners filled with tribal and non-tribal business, civic, and community leaders all appointed by the president, treasurer and clerk’s offices and the tribal council.

Ross John Sr., a Seneca business owner and advocate for Seneca sovereign rights, will serve as chairman. Past Seneca Nation treasurer and current treasurer of the Seneca Gaming Corporation Board of Directors, Brad John, will serve as SCED’s secretary/treasurer. Other enrolled Senecas appointed to the board of commissioners include past political leaders and successful business entrepreneurs Sue John-Blacksnake, Sandra Hill, Tracie Brown and Steve Gordon. Non-Senecas appointed to the commission include Michael R. Militello, chairman, MRM Hospitality Group, who will serve as SCED’s vice-chairman, Anthony Baynes, chairman, Buffalo-based AJ Baynes Group and Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., Ph.D., Sr. vice president of marketing, planning and business development at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC).

“The nation’s efforts to grow a strong sovereign economy aren’t limited to selling tobacco and petroleum products and gaming,” said John. “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.”

SCED’s first priority is to engage in economic development initiatives on its territories and in the gaming facilities’ host communities – Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca – in activities including, but not limited to, market analysis and feasibility studies, property/site development and infrastructure improvements, and business development opportunities and public-private ventures. The commission will be uniquely positioned to use a host of assets, and to connect a diverse array of stakeholders, to engage in community issues with economic and place-based solutions.

SCED will complement the nation’s recent initiatives to diversify its gaming and retail enterprises. Seneca Holdings was established in 2009 as a start-up concept with zero revenue. With six operating subsidiaries in targeted industries such as telecommunications, construction and others, it generated more than $134 million of revenue in fiscal year 2012 and employs more than 75 people.

The Seneca Nation Center for Business Growth, a small-business incubator providing advisory services and technical training for individuals, was opened in 2012. It 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.

“SCED’s access to resources and its relationships across sectors will aid in this regard, providing a valuable resource to help establish long-term self-sufficiency for our tribal members, and to form positive strategic partnerships with entities throughout the community and the region,” said John.