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Reported by Theresa Schmidt
KINDER, LA (KPLC) - Louisiana's casino industry has managed to avoid the downturn that's plagued their counter parts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
And that includes the Coushatta Casino in Allen Parish.
The tribe is working to create new economic opportunities.
There are those who see nothing but doom and gloom and others determined to find opportunities in an economy that presents challenges for many. Coushatta tribe officials say their casino business has felt the impact of the economy but not suffered to the extent of non Indian gaming. Still Vice Chairman David Sickey says they are working to diversify.
Sickey: "The tribe government has decided to undertake an aggressive effort, an aggressive push to diversify our assets, our business portfolio. Some of the non-gaming initiatives that we're taking a look at are agriculture, agritech, high tech industry, green projects."
Those interested in the tribe business were invited to a round table to hear about economic development efforts and successes. They are hoping to promote tourism with the Coushatta Heritage Project and Center to open this fall.
Sickey: "We are open to joint ventures, partnerships, co-investments."
Speakers included attorney and lobbyist Tom Rodgers of Washington D.C. who helped shape processes now in place to prevent injustices of the past, like the Jack Abramhoff scandal and promote mutually beneficial business with the tribe.
Rodgers: "We are a community of one. You should partner with our Native American brothers and the local community here in Allen Parish so that we all benefit. So that we can alleviate some of the pain and suffering that people are experiencing given the economic downturn."
Rodgers says there are stimulus dollars flowing from Washington for Native Americans and associated tax incentives that will help the local community emerge stronger.
Today's meeting is part of a series which will wrap up with a final round table in April. The date has not yet been announced.