MiBiz BY KATE CARLSON
Tuesday, November 15, 2022 07:57pm
A trio of non-gaming tribal economic development entities has formed a rare real estate development, construction and property management joint venture that’s considered the first of its kind in the Midwest.
Aki Construction LLC brings together leaders from Odawa Economic Affairs Holding Corp., or Odawa Holdings, Mno-Bmadsen and Gun Lake Investments who share similar missions to advance tribal prosperity through economic diversification.
“At Odawa Holdings, we are ecstatic to be taking the first steps in this venture alongside GLI and Mno-Bmadsen,” Shanna Shananaquet, executive director of Odawa Holdings, said in a statement. “Together, our goal is to be a leader with tribal-driven construction projects within the Midwest and across the country. We look forward to watching this unique platform grow with the collaborative mindset of family, culture and tradition.”
Odawa Holdings is the Harbor Springs-based, non-gaming economic development arm of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Mno-Bmadsen is the non-gaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, while Gun Lake Investments is the Grand Rapids-based economic development arm of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe.
The formation of Aki Construction “sets the tone” for additional collaborations, said Mno-Bmadsen CEO Julio Martinez
“Our vision is to continue to uplift one another’s tribes by capturing the synergistic results of this collaboration,” Martinez said in a statement. “We expect this joint venture to expand on the very important work we do to grow our tribe’s economic development investments for the benefit of future generations.”
Gun Lake Investments CEO Monica King said the partnership is the first of its kind in the Midwest and represents a “historic milestone.”
“Three Tribes are coming together to further develop and give back to their communities, which will create economic value and provide meaningful opportunities for our Tribes and beyond,” King said. “GLI is thrilled to partner on this new endeavor.”
GLI is partnering with St. Charles, Ill.-based WBK Engineering, a civil engineering and planning consulting firm owned by Mno-Bmadsen, on a large-scale development north of the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland Twp., as MiBiz recently reported. GLI plans to transform hundreds of acres of property into a massive development that could include retail, health care, housing and manufacturing.
Another recent example of tribal business collaboration came in early 2020 when Gun Lake Investments and Waséyabek Development Co. — the non-gaming economic investment entity of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians — jointly acquired McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids for $17.5 million.