Fond du Lac Band sets sights on multi-million dollar developments

By KBJR News 1

March 20, 2014 Updated Mar 21, 2014 at 6:36 PM CDT

Fond du Lac Reservation, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has set its sights on a five-year, multi-million dollar economic development strategy that covers everything from education to infrastructure.

Developing a Community Economic Development Strategy is a requirement of the tribal government every five years.

From 2008 to 2013, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa developed a transit system that now serves about 12,000 people annually.

That was part of that time frame's 5-year Community Economic Development Strategy, and something that Band Planning Director Jason Hollinday is hopeful will continue to be developed in the latest strategy.

"I'm just hoping that we keep doing that keep working at promoting it, improving the service," said Jason Hollinday, Fond du Lac Band planning director.

The projects that have made 2013-2018's list have been deemed among the highest priorities for the Band's economic and community development.

They include building low income duplexes, the development of a Tribal Emergency Response Team, and an RV Park addition to the Black Bear Casino Complex.

Arguably the highest priority, says Hollinday, is an $8 million high speed internet development project.

"In order to make that sustainable, or to break even, I think we need 40% of the households on the Reservation to purchase that from the company itself," said Hollinday.

"We have to develop ways to earn the revenue, otherwise we're reliant on grants, and that's not healthy," said Karen Diver, Tribal Chairwoman.

Tribal Chairwoman Karen Diver says projects like bringing high speed internet to Reservation homes serve the tribe's economic and community goals.

"It affects your access to do economic development, promote entrepreneurship, education for our kids... distance learning, distance medicine, so that's been identified as a high priority by the tribal council," said Diver.

Tribal leaders say projects will be addressed financially through a variety of options, including grant money and third party revenue.
Projects will be addressed when the financial opportunities present themselves.

Come June, Hollinday says the Reservation will see waterline expansion projects, along with the development of a trail connecting them to Cloquet.

Billy Wagness
bwagness@kbjr.com

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