Potawatomi Diversify by Buying Stake in Wisconsin Bank


The Forest County Potawatomi Community is diversifying by purchasing a minority stake in a community bank, Commerce State Bank, headquartered in West Bend, Wisconsin.

“As we’ve experienced first-hand, gaming revenues can be volatile so it’s important that the Tribe find new ways to diversify our businesses. The Potawatomi will continue to look for sound investments that will benefit both the communities where we operate and the Tribe,” said Forest County Potawatomi Chairman Gus Frank.

The investment from the Tribe came as part of a successful capital raise campaign by Commerce State Bank. The initiative raised $11 million from multiple investors of common equity to support its growth and potential acquisitions by fortifying its capital position.

“This investment from the Potawatomi will allow us to continue executing our strategy to better serve communities and businesses in Wisconsin,” said Commerce State Bank CEO, Chairman and co-founder Joe Fazio. “We are very excited to work with a trusted partner like the Forest County Potawatomi.”

The Potawatomi will hold a less than a 10 percent stake in the business. Founded in August 2005, today the bank has total assets of more than $400 million.

In 2002, the Tribe established the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation (PBDC) as the economic development and income diversification business of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. Today, PBDC is a growing company with expertise and success in a variety of industries including hospitality, real estate development, technology and federal contracting.

This includes Greenfire Management Services, LLC, a construction management and owner’s representative firm headquartered in Milwaukee. Founded in 2010, the company’s project portfolio already includes multiple large-scale commercial and residential developments; including the $150 million, 381-room Potawatomi Hotel and the $20 million Echelon at Innovation Campus development in Wauwatosa.

Another venture is Redhawk Network Security, an information security solutions specialist based in Bend, Oregon. Solely owned by the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, Redhawk specializes in network security management for the Financial, Healthcare, Government, Utilities and Indian Gaming industries throughout the United States. Redhawk Network Security was recently recognized by Cybersecurity Ventures as one of the 500 Hottest Security Companies in the world.

Potawatomi Business Development Corporation’s subsidiaries also include the Data Holdings data center in Milwaukee. Opened in 2013, this data center is the only Tier III enhanced facility in Wisconsin and the only sovereign data center in the United States.

The Tribe was also a founding member of the Forest County Economic Development Partnership, a public /private partnership which aims to increase economic development by supporting small businesses, facilitating community projects, and attracting new industries to Forest County (Wisconsin) all while maintaining the area’s natural resources, heritage, and cultural traditions.

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