More than 100 attendees gathered at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, to learn about the economic advancements of Potawatomi Nation-owned businesses as part of the first-ever Economic Development Showcase and Job Fair. The event, which was hosted by Waséyabek Development Company, LLC (WDC), took place on Friday, July 28, during the 2023 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations hosted by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP).
During the event, attendees spoke with 20 companies to learn about the steps their businesses are taking to enhance a variety of industries, including property management, engineering, transportation, manufacturing, insurance, federal contracting, and beyond. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to learn about the jobs and career pathways available at the companies represented. Jessi Goldner, NHBP Tribal Member and WDC’s Director of Strategic Engagement and Compliance, spearheaded the planning and execution of the event.
“At Waséyabek, we are always looking for ways to promote the hard work of the companies that serve as the economic engine driving the NHBP Tribe forward,” said Deidra Mitchell, President and CEO at WDC. “The Showcase and Job Fair offered an ideal platform to extend an opportunity for NHBP – along with other Potawatomi Nations – to spotlight the incredible work that we are all doing to create a brighter tomorrow for those in Indian Country.”
Exhibitors referenced the ability to provide a snapshot of their businesses to attendees as a key draw to participating in the Showcase and Job Fair, including Kip Ritchie, interim CEO of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation.
“Not only did this event provide a way for the respective Tribes to showcase their successful businesses, but it also offered a chance for the various leaders to explore opportunities to work together,” he said.
In addition to learning about the companies present, attendees also benefitted from networking with others, something that spilled over into the Potawatomi Economic Summit that took place immediately following the close of the Showcase and Job Fair.
During the Summit, approximately 60 attendees representing 10 Potawatomi Tribes provided updates on economic advancements within their communities. The goal of the Summit was for the Tribes present to learn from each other’s work and to provide a space for future collaboration.
“Having the Tribes together to discuss the work they are performing plays a critical role in how we learn from one another and grow,” Mitchell said. “These continued conversations are vital in building awareness around how we can all advance together.”
The hope is for the Showcase and Job Fair to become part of the Gathering of the Potawatomi Nations each year moving forward, with this year’s event serving as a blueprint for other host Tribes.