I hope that each of you had a joyous Christmas and New Year and that you took the time to connect with your families and share in our Potawatomi traditions. As we begin 2014 we can reflect on the joys and sorrows on the previous year. Although I have always enjoyed serving as your Tribal Chairman, 2013 was a particularly good and prosperous year for the Nation and I cherish each moment serving the Potawatomi more and more.
We have big plans for 2014 and I expect that we will see another prosperous year. You can be proud in knowing that the Citizen Potawatomi Nation is leading the way with our tribal enterprises and self-governance work. I encourage each of you to reflect on the joys and challenges of the previous year and plan for 2014. I would like to take this opportunity myself to reflect on some of the great things that the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has accomplished in 2013.
In January we completed work on the CPN Gym, and we officially opened the doors in March. The new building is home to our Tribal Youth Program, The P.L.A.C.E. The new building and program provide a safe environment for youth after regular school hours, during various school breaks and during the summer months. Youth can participate in additional educational activities and opportunities available to youth between the ages of 10 and 18.
With the expansion of our casino and hotel we have already added more than 100 new jobs. We are the largest employer in Pottawatomie County by more than five times and will add another 200 jobs in 2014. Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s newest resort and tourism destination is complete with the addition of the new 14-story hotel tower with 262 suites, adding a total of 144,000 square feet to the property. The Grand Hotel includes a spa, meeting and convention space and will offer an outdoor pool and lounge summer 2014.
We also opened two new event centers in 2013. The Grand Event Center will be offer 2,000 seats and more than 15,000 square feet of concert space. Grand Casino Hotel and Resort will also add two dining options, Flame, a Brazilian steakhouse and The Grand Café, a 24-hour American diner. The dining venues will open Jan. 2014. The current entertainment space at Grand Casino Hotel and Resort opened in Oct. 2006 and has seen a diverse group of award-winning musicians and comedians. Among the most popular shows were Gretchen Wilson, Merle Haggard, Wayne Newton, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy. Firelake Arena will offer 5,000 seats and more than 52,000 square feet of event space for concerts, conventions and community events. Firelake Arena joins other Citizen Potawatomi Nation enterprises, including Firelake Entertainment Center, The Ball Fields at Firelake, Firelake Bowling Center, Firelake Golf Center, Firelake Mini-Putt and Firelake Discount Foods, to add to the diverse Firelake region of entertainment options.
In June, as we do every year, we welcomed thousands of Potawatomi home for the Family Reunion Festival. More than 5,000 people from 39 states descended on the town of Shawnee the weekend of June 28-30 to celebrate their Citizen Potawatomi Nation heritage. The annual Family Reunion Festival attracts people from all across the United States and has a considerable economic impact on Shawnee.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has a $522 million economic impact in the state of Okla. for 2012. This economic impact includes $68 million in wages and benefits, directly supporting more than 2,200 jobs, and purchases contributing to a $377 million impact on the local economy. There is an old adage that ‘a rising tide raises all ships.’ The Citizen Potawatomi Nation plays a major role in the success of Pottawatomie County and the state of Okla. We are a lasting partner of the state and community. Our success is good for both our tribe and for our Okla. neighbors.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation and United States Congressman James Lankford gathered to dedicate the Iron Horse Bridge and celebrate an important milestone in the construction of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Iron Horse Industrial Park. After several years of planning and research, Iron Horse is getting closer to becoming a reality. The engineering is complete for phase one of construction and Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad has completed restoration of Railroad Bridge crossing the North Canadian River. The vision for the Iron Horse Industrial Park is to provide a prime industrial location for both tribally-owned businesses and private companies. This will further diversify the tribal economy by providing assembly and manufacturing jobs. We are pleased to celebrate this important milestone with A-OK Railroad and look forward to the next phase of this project.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation was one of three American Indian tribal government programs to be selected by the Harvard Project’s Honoring Nations program as All-Stars from the family of 112 outstanding programs that have been selected as honorees since 1999. The Honoring Nations program identifies, celebrates, and shares excellence in American Indian tribal governance. At the heart of Honoring Nations is the principle that tribes themselves hold the key to generating social, political, cultural, and economic prosperity and that self-governance plays a crucial role in building and sustaining strong, healthy Indian nations. CPN was recognized for the Constitution Reform Project, which resulted in a new constitution that provides the critical foundations for tribal political sovereignty, economic development, social well-being, and cultural preservation.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation opened a new convenience store, FireLake Corner Store, at the intersection of Hardesty Road and Gordon Cooper Drive. The 5,000 square foot store replaces the convenience store previously located on the north corner of to FireLake Discount Foods. FireLake Corner Store is 24/7 and has 16 fueling stations. FireLake Corner Store offers 100 percent unleaded gasoline, diesel, fresh gourmet coffee, more than 20 flavors of fountain beverages, an ice cold beer cave, food concessions and cigarettes and smokeless tobacco items.
In November we finalized our plans for an MBA program at Oklahoma Baptist University and signed a collaborative agreement between the two organizations to provide a corporate online MBA program for the CPN to offer to its members, employees and constituents.
For 2013 we received about $43.6 million in grants from different Federal Agencies, including a grant for a Workforce Development Center, CPNPD officers and equipment and a tribal youth mentor program. These grant awards are, in large part, due to the hard work and diligence of our Directors and Tribal Self-Governance department. Migwetch to them for securing funding for these programs and projects.
We were able to accomplish these things because of the hard work and dedication of our tribal employees and because of the steady leadership of our Tribal Legislature. Again, it is my honor to serve as your Tribal Chairman and I look forward to accomplishing this, and more, in 2014.