Other Views: Nisqually Tribe helping drive regional economic recovery

November 9, 2013 

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People gather in front of the new, 26,000-square-foot Nisqually Tribal Center, during a dedication ceremony, Friday May 3, 2013, in Olympia. The building, which was built opposite the tribe's previous center, will house most of the governmental services provided to tribal members. Tribal history, tradition and culture are incorporated into the building's design.(Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

JANET JENSEN — Staff photographer Buy Photo

A bright light in the regional economic recovery is shining as years of planning, perseverance and investment by the Nisqually Tribe are coming into fruition.

Already one of Thurston County’s largest nonstate agency employers, the tribe is using revenue from our gaming enterprise to prime the broader economy by making investments in nongaming initiatives that benefit everyone.

Recent investments coming on-line include:

 • Two new market/gasoline stations — one in Lakewood and another in Nisqually Valley — are open, and a third on Marvin Road will be under construction soon. Total investment is more than $3 million and the outlets will provide more than 50 full- and part-time jobs.

 • In partnership with developer Wig Properties, the tribe has acquired the 215-acre Lacey Gateway property, next to and around Cabela’s in Lacey. We expect to site a large-scale phased mixed-use retail development on the property as the market demand grows.

 • WHH Nisqually Services is a construction and construction management company launched by the tribe that expects to be providing services to Joint Base Lewis McCord, Navy installations, and other major facilities.

 • She-Nah-Nam Seafoods is a new enterprise established to buy, process and sell high-quality, branded seafood. The operation will work in tandem with the shellfish farm the tribe has acquired and is operating on Henderson Inlet.

 • The new Public Safety Complex will provide up to 100 new jobs when it is completed later this year. In addition to the 60,000-square-foot building, contractors also extended fresh and wastewater lines and are building a wastewater treatment plant. Future plans call for a new fire station and judicial services facility at the site.

 • Private contractors, architects, landscapers and others collaborated on construction of important tribal infrastructure, including the new $10 million Tribal Center and the $7.6 million Youth and Community Center.

Nisqually’s annual payroll is more than $50 million, paid to more than 1,000 employees who live throughout Thurston and Pierce counties – and we’re hiring more people. The tribe spends tens of millions of dollars a year buying goods and services from private companies — and we’re increasing spending each year. We’re generating more taxes for local and state government.

Last year the tribe donated $2.5 million to charitable and local government partners to help keep people safe, to help children succeed, to improve community health, to honor veterans and to protect the environment.

Nisqually’s economic progress, and the contribution the tribe is making to the regional economic recovery, has been made possible with the exceptional support we receive from local governments — especially the cities of Olympia, Lakewood, Lacey, and Thurston and Pierce counties — and from state and federal elected officials and agencies.

At Nisqually, we are just getting started. Our goal is to diversify the tribal economy, provide jobs and opportunities for our members, and create benefits for the entire region.

Cynthia Iyall is chairwoman of the Nisqually Tribal Council.

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