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Senecas’ projects to go beyond tribal territory

The lure of the area’s construction boom is proving irresistible for a new competitor in the market.

No longer content to be limited to tribal construction projects, the Seneca Nation of Indians has formed a new business to accept contracts for building work outside the tribe’s sovereign territory.

With the approval of the Senecas’ elected leaders and Tribal Council, the new entity, called 7 GENS, will start to pursue off-territory work on both public- and private-sector projects, operating as a general contractor or providing construction management services.

The new company is also seeking to become a certified New York State Minority Business Enterprise, which would allow it to bid for opportunities not only in the state, but along the Eastern Seaboard.

The goal is to develop more business, while boosting revenues and profits, by taking advantage of a perceived need and “unmet opportunities” within the regional market, company officials said.

In particular, both 7 GENS and the tribe’s existing Seneca Construction Management Corp. want to expand into energy, medical and nanoscience fields, where they see demand for projects both on and off the tribe’s territory. Officials also noted that training in such “leading-edge construction technologies” leads to better jobs and growth opportunities for workers.

“We are dedicated to continually provide technical training for our staff to be proficient in cutting-edge new technology to remain competitive in the construction industry,” said Todd Gates, Seneca Construction Management’s president.

The new company joins a construction field that already has seen some outside entrants from Rochester and other areas vying for contracts in Buffalo and its suburbs, although there are fewer alternatives in some rural parts of the eight-county region. It also comes at a time when a surge in new construction activity, renovations and redevelopment locally – particularly in downtown Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, but also at other hospitals and universities and with private developers – has led to an explosion in demand for contractors.

Indeed, the tribe noted that Seneca Construction Management has been asked to take on jobs outside the territories, but it was not authorized to do so by the charter under which it was created as a business entity of the tribe. So officials examined how it was currently structured, developed a business plan for the new company to target growth sectors and seek outside contracts, and presented it to tribal leaders for approval.

Seneca Construction Management will continue to handle work on territory projects – including at all three of the tribe’s casinos and for housing development, Seneca business enterprises, and natural gas and renewable-energy projects – while the separate firm looks for new work elsewhere.

“As an organization, we are totally committed to secure gainful employment for our people as our first priority,” Gates said. “We are currently expanding and looking to hire Senecas for several positions within our organizational structure. Our goal is to win bids in both the private and public sectors that will increase profits for our company, the Nation and our people.”