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A strong Tribe strengthens region

| April 21, 2010 9:00 PM

What we need are jobs to get us out of the recession.

And in that regard, nobody's pulling harder for our region than the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

The recently released University of Idaho study that showed the Tribe's economic impact around $300 million was impressive, but the number that really stood out was 1,699. That's how many people the Tribe says it employed last year, making it either the largest or second largest employer in North Idaho. The state Department of Labor says Kootenai Health led the way with 1,813 employees in 2009.

Some 1,400 of the Tribe's employees work in the casino, resort hotel and Circling Raven Golf Course. However, the Tribe is steadily diversifying its employment base, leading many to believe that the number will only continue to rise.

What some people don't know is that the Tribe's employment isn't an exclusive club for Coeur d'Alene tribal members. In fact, according to spokesman Marc Stewart, roughly two-thirds of all the Tribe's employees aren't tribal members.

Further, many of those non-tribal employees commute to work, meaning they bring their paychecks back to places like Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls. In other words, they spread the wealth.

The Tribe's economic impact reverberates throughout Kootenai County. As part of its gaming compact with the state, it distributes 5 percent of its casino revenue to schools and other educational entities every year. Since 1993, the Tribe has donated almost $14 million toward education.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe continues to prove it is more than a good neighbor. It is also an important piston in the region's economic engine.

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