Seneca Nation to form new firm
Holding company to expand revenue
By Brian Hayden
NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER
The Seneca Nation of Indians has announced plans to form a $28 million holding company to invest in and buy businesses. The goal is to broaden the nation’s revenue sources beyond casino gaming and tobacco and gasoline sales.
The company, to be called Seneca Holdings LLC, is planning to invest $3 million this year, followed by $5 million in each of the next five years.
Robert Odawi Porter, chairman of the holdings committee, said the main goal of the company is to generate profit for the nation. One of the company’s future subsidiaries, Seneca Capital, will seek to make investments in other companies, both on and off the Seneca reservation.
“We’re looking anywhere we can find a potential opportunity,” Porter said.
The nation’s council has not yet determined where the funds will come from within its budget.
The nation’s businesses have evolved from a bowling alley and campgrounds in the 1970s; to bingo, gasoline and tobacco sales; to the Seneca Gaming and Entertainment Corp., which profited $17.6 million in its second quarter ending in March, down 16 percent from a year earlier. The nation operates the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo.
Potential investment opportunities include government contracting, joint ventures, and existing, viable companies. Decisions on those investments will not be made until a CEO for the holding company is chosen, Porter said.
The nation hopes to encourage those companies it invests in to relocate jobs onto Seneca land.
“It’s exciting to think about applying our natural advantages to a new economic path,” he said.
Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr. could not be reached for comment.
An investment firm for the nation has been in the works the last several years.
The return on the investment will also provide further financial security for the nation, which has faced legal challenges to its Buffalo gaming operations, as well as political pressure to tax its tobacco products. Porter said the investment firm’s management committee, and the Seneca council, are both confident of seeing a return on the investment.
“It’s innovative for the nation in terms of its revenue generating opportunities,” Porter said. “The horse is out of the gate. Right now, we want to keep running.”
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Other tribes are expanding away from gambling, how about the Mohegans? Not us (the Mohegan Tribe), we went to Pocono Downs, Wisconsin, Washington State, and now Palmer. We don't seem to know anything but gambling. Could it be poor leadership, from the powers above (the Mohegan Tribal Council)? Is it time for the Mohegan Tribal Council to step forward? Is it time for a change? Do you know? What do you think?