KBIC investing in casino staff

BARAGA — The Ojibwa casinos manager is focused on making sure the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s $40 million in casino upgrades pays off by investing in one of the tribe’s biggest resources — its staff.

“My experiences at the top … have been really good,” a thankful Wren told the Tribal Council on Thursday. “We want to take that vision and that opportunity I had … to everyone. I want to create what we have at the top, at the bottom.

“We all want to feel valued,” he added. “There’s so much untapped energy. (Right now) there’s no coaching. There’s no development. The times are changing and there’s a $40 million component. It’s not a matter of trying. I think we have to do it. It’s perfect timing.”

Noting he recently passed his 90-day probation, Wren said he’s talked to the entire staff at length and found a need for a more focused enterprise.

Wren is looking at firms to spend six months here working to maximize the potential in each department and each person to create a comprehensive business objective.

“It meshes perfectly with where we need to be,” said CEO Larry Denomie.

“I love the synergy going on,” Swartz said, picking up on some of Wren’s language, including his talk of a “paradigm shift” in the tribe’s approach to its casinos in Baraga and Marquette.

Councilwoman Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo was pleased with Wren’s plan.

“You’re a breath of fresh air,” she told him.

The tribe is investing $6.5 million in the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga and $33.5 million in the Ojibwa II in Marquette to upgrade and expand both facilities over the next year or so.