Tribes Contribute Millions of Dollars to Washington Communities, Non-Profits

Quil Ceda VillageNestled between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, the Tulalip Indian-owned Quil Ceda Village offers gaming, luxury accommodations, entertainment, shopping, fine dining and more.
Quil Ceda Village
Nestled between Seattle and Vancouver, BC, the Tulalip Indian-owned Quil Ceda Village offers gaming, luxury accommodations, entertainment, shopping, fine dining and more.


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


SEATTLE – Casinos operated by 22 Native Nations in Washington State generated millions of dollars in contributions to communities, non-profits, and smoking-cessation and problem-gambling programs in 2013 and 2014, according to a report by the Washington State Gambling Commission.

In accordance with compacts, or agreements, with the state, Native Nations contribute 0.5 percent of machine gaming net receipts to nonprofit and charitable organizations; up to 2 percent of table-game net receipts to governmental agencies; 0.13 percent of machine gaming net receipts to smoking-cessation programs; and 0.13 percent of Class III net receipts to problem-gambling programs.

Staff members of the state commission presented “Tribal State Compact Tribal Contributions” to commissioners on Jan. 15. Commissioners and reporters had the opportunity that day to ride along with enforcement agents, watch gaming-machine compliance tests, and tour a forensics lab.

The mission of the gambling commission is “Protect the Public by Ensuring that Gambling is Legal & Honest,” and Native Nations with casinos help in that mission through the compact and, in many cases, with their own gaming commissions.

According to the report: Native Nations with casinos distributed nearly $6.5 million in community impact funds in 2013, and $6.6 million in 2012; contributed copy2.6 million in 2013 and copy1.8 million in 2012 to non-profits and charities; allocated $2.4 million in 2014 and $2.2 million in 2013 for smoking-cessation programs; and allocated $2.8 million in 2014 and $2.5 million in 2013 to help prevent and treat gambling addictions.

Community impact funds are invested in local law enforcement, public safety, and roads. Charitable funds benefit local food banks, disaster relief organizations, sports and recreation programs, United Way, veterans organizations, YMCA, YWCA, youth organizations, and others.  Smoking-cessation and problem-gambling contributions help pay for the state Department of Health’s 1-800 Quit Line, community behavioral-health programs, and programs operated by local health care authorities.

Contributions for 2015 were not available.

Jobs Providers

For most if not all Native Nations that have casinos, gaming is only part of a larger economic development portfolio. According to Julie Saw’Leit’Sa Johnson, Lummi, chairwoman of the Native American Caucus of the Washington State Democratic Party, Native Nations – or Tribes – are collectively the fourth-largest source of jobs in Washington state.

The Quinault Nation, owner of the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino, as well as other ventures, is the largest employer in Grays Harbor County. The Suquamish Tribe’s Port Madison Enterprises, which manages the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, White Horse Golf Club, and other ventures, is the second-largest private-sector employer in Kitsap County, west of Seattle. The Tulalip Tribes town of Quil Ceda Village, home of Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Amphitheater, Seattle Premium Outlets, and other dining, entertainment and retail businesses, is the third-largest source of jobs in Snohomish County.

Many casino-resorts have evolved beyond gaming and become convention, dining and entertainment destinations, as well as showcases for cultural art. Guests at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort Hotel can take a shuttle to the Suquamish Museum and other cultural sites. The new Yakama Nation Legends Casino Hotel is being built a half-mile from the Yakama Nation Museum & Cultural Center.



How Stanwood landed a factory and 62 jobs

Kurt Batdorf / The Herald Business JournalProcess Solutions workers Bill Desmul (left) and Zach Barnes use a crane to lower a completed panel into an electrical service box at the company's Stanwood assembly plant.
Kurt Batdorf / The Herald Business Journal
Process Solutions workers Bill Desmul (left) and Zach Barnes use a crane to lower a completed panel into an electrical service box at the company’s Stanwood assembly plant.

By Kurt Batdorf, The Herald Business Journal

STANWOOD — When you think of electrical panel and control systems manufacturing, you probably wouldn’t put Stanwood very high on a list of likely contenders.

But the city is home to Washington’s largest such business, Process Solutions.

Why Stanwood? It doesn’t have a reputation for tech manufacturing as Arlington, Mukilteo and Bothell do. But it does have a mayor, city officials and local boosters who want attract and keep family-wage jobs.

When the Port of Bellingham lured away the building’s former occupant, Index Sensors & Controls, the city didn’t want to see it sit empty and wanted another occupant with an equally robust payroll.

Process Solutions designs and builds electrical control systems and the software that controls them for industries including food processing and packaging, biotech and pharmaceutical, water and wastewater, energy management, manufacturing and aerospace. It builds more than 2,000 control panels per year. North America accounts for 95 percent of the company’s business, Busby said. It did $13 million in sales in 2012 is on track do close to $15 million this year.

Process Solutions President Todd Busby said he was drawn to the Index Sensors building on the east end of town, across the parking lot from Stanwood Cinemas, because it was much more attractive than the three metal buildings his company occupied in Arlington.

Besides, Busby said, with a metal building, “there’s only so much you can do with it.”

However, he wasn’t sold yet on Stanwood. Busby liked Arlington and had been negotiating a ground lease with the city for a bigger facility. He said the deal fell apart after city officials wouldn’t accept liability for anything Busby uncovered during excavation and site preparation. That brought Busby back to the Index Sensors building.

Randy Heagle of Windermere Stanwood represented Busby on the building’s purchase.

The city’s responsiveness impressed Heagle and Busby.

Stanwood community development director Rebecca Lind said she crunched numbers with the city’s finance director and determined that the real-estate excise tax from the property sale would offset the cost of water and sewer, so the City Council agreed to a five-year utility waiver for Process Solutions.

The building’s vinyl floor tile presented another stumbling block for Busby. Lind said the city’s engineer and building official toured the building and wrote a report about how to correct the tile floor’s problems. Stanwood also waived fees for its review of tenant improvements and sign permits.

“That gave Todd the confidence to invest in the building,” Lind said.

“With the help of the city, we helped save the deal,” Heagle said.

Process Solutions closed on the sale in August 2011 and moved into the building April 15, 2012. Busby celebrated his first anniversary in Stanwood with a tour of the 28,000-square-foot engineering and manufacturing facility.

Busby led the city’s ad hoc economic development group — Heagle and a half-dozen local bankers and realtors — through the plant recently.

Process Solutions employs 62 people. About 40 engineers occupy cubicles in the front half of the building, but Busby noted that most of them spend a lot of time on the road with far-flung clients.

The manufacturing floor fills the back half of the building. The vinyl tiles that Busby so disliked are gone. He had the concrete slab ground smooth and polished, removing seven tons of material.

A crane helps workers place large, heavy electrical panels into service boxes instead of using a forklift like most of Busby’s smaller competitors do.

Each work station has overhead power and compressed air for tools and a rack Busby invented that holds 10 spools of wire. Workers can unroll just the wire they need, so copper waste fell from 7 percent to 1 percent, he said.

And then there are the batting cages. Busby, a Little League and soccer coach, said it’s a gift to his employees and their kids.

Busby wanted to have a building that appealed to prospective and current employees. There’s a spacious lounge where workers can make a cup of coffee and see what’s on the giant, flat-screen TV. Daylight filters into the building. Busby worked with designer Garrett Kuhlmann of H2K Design in Stanwood on the interior decor.

So far, Busby’s investment in employee comfort and aesthetics is paying off. He’s recruited eight new engineers since January and gained a $500,000 contract with a customer who saw the building after leaving a movie.

“We wanted to invest in our own building,” Busby said. “It reflects the quality of the work we do.”