By Todd Gates
The signing of the gaming compact between the Seneca Nation and New York State in 2002 started a wave of economic progress across Western New York, bringing jobs, investment and opportunity to our region.
Over the past 15 years, the Seneca Nation has made as dramatic an impact on the local economy as any private company.
From our dramatic 100-day, $100 million transformation of an aging, underutilized convention center in Niagara Falls into a world-class gaming destination in 2002 to our most recent $40 million investment in Buffalo’s Inner Harbor area, the Seneca Nation has invested more than $1 billion in the communities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.
All told, more than 7,000 construction workers have worked on our job sites, helping us redefine the development landscape in Western New York.
Along with buildings, we have built an impressive local workforce. Today, approximately 4,000 people – neighbors from every neighborhood in our community – work in our gaming facilities, earning more than $110 million in annual wages and enjoying outstanding benefits.
Their hard-earned dollars stay here and are used to support their families, put food on their tables and send their children to school. Likewise, the business partnerships we have built with companies throughout the region and across the state represent another nearly $100 million in annual spending that supports hundreds of additional jobs in the regional economy and the people and families who depend on them.
In honoring the terms and the language of our compact, the Seneca Nation’s gaming operations have generated more than $1.4 billion for state and local governments since 2002. Of the more than $1 billion that has been sent to Albany over that time, nearly $370 million has been or will be reallocated back to the communities surrounding our casinos. The unprecedented surge of economic activity created by the Seneca Nation’s gaming enterprises has not been driven by some outside corporate entity, lured to the region only to reinvest elsewhere.
The Seneca people have been here long before there was a state of New York or a City of Buffalo. History shows that we never left. The economic foundation we have established through gaming is evidence of what has happened because we stayed.
Western New York is our home, and we remain committed to playing an important and active role in our community and our local economy.
As our 14-year revenue share obligation to the state ends, the Seneca Nation remains committed to playing an important and active role in our community and our local economy, in partnership with our thousands of employees, our many business partners and our neighbors in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.
Todd Gates is the president of the Seneca Nation of Indians.