Cowlitz Casino Resort
Courtesy Friedmutter Group
Cowlitz Casino Resort is expected to open in spring 2017.

Major Economic Development Projects Underway For Three Native Nations

Richard Walker

SEATTLE – Three Native Nations in Washington are in the midst of significant economic development projects worth more than $100 million and creating more than 1,000 jobs.

The Quinault Indian Nation is already the largest provider of jobs in Grays Harbor County. The Yakama Nation is one of the top 10 employers in Yakima County. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe will become one of the top 10 employers in Clark County. That’s according to lists maintained by regional economic development agencies. 

The Quinault Nation, on the Pacific Coast, will begin a $25 million expansion of its Quinault Beach Resort & Casino in March, Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp announced Jan. 9. The expansion follows the completion of a 159-room remodel at the resort and will expand the property’s fast-food services, and add two bars and a combined gift and coffee shop.

The casino will have up to 70 percent more space to house newly added slot machines. A new 500-car, four-story parking garage will also serve the area as a tsunami shelter. The expansion project will employ more than 100 laborers during the construction as well as add to the resort’s current workforce upon completion.

The Quinault Nation currently provides more than 1,200 jobs for Quinault citizens and others. Other Quinault Nation enterprises include Quinault Pride Seafood, Quinault Land and Timber, Quinault Marina & RV Resort, and the Quinault Mercantile.

This expansion project not only allows us to employ more locals, it will also help us to bring more people to the area,” Quinault Beach Resort & Casino general manager Don Kajans said in an announcement released by the nation. “It’s good for the resort, good for Quinault and good for Ocean Shores. And our patrons will love the changes.”

Sharp added, “The Quinault Beach Resort & Casino has been a major component of Quinault Nation’s employment and economic structure for the past 16 years. It is largely due to its success that we have been able to diversify.

“We have been proud to provide such a comfortable and rewarding entertainment facility to area residents and visitors alike at this beautiful location, surrounded by the majestic Pacific Ocean and hundreds of acres of protected wetlands and glorious forests. We have been proud to provide employment for so many families, economic support for the region and millions of dollars in support for such necessities as emergency services for nearby communities.”
In eastern Washington, the Yakama Nation Legends Casino’s hotel is expected to open in May or June, a casino representative said.

The $90 million project will include a six-story, 200-room hotel and conference center, a 5,000-square-foot spa and an expansion of the casino’s gaming floor by more than 50,000 square feet. New dining options will include a food court seating 160, and an updated buffet with 150 more seats. Gaming space expansion will include a poker room and space for 200 new slot machines.

Yakama Legends Casino Hotel will open in May or June. (Courtesy Yakama Nation)

The Legends Casino currently features more than 1,400 slot machines, 20 table games, a poker room, keno, a buffet restaurant, deli, espresso bar, and gift shop. It is located near the Yakama Nation Cultural Center, which features the Yakama Nation Museum, Heritage Inn Restaurant, Heritage Theater, and Yakama Nation Library.

Other Yakama Nation Enterprises: Yakama Nation Resort RV Park, Yakama Nation Forest Products, Yakama Nation Land Enterprise, Yakama Power, Yakama Nation Fruit and Produce, Yakama Nation Networks, Yakama Nation Wildlife, Range & Vegetative Resources Management, and Yakama Nation Gaming Commission.

In southwest Washington, the Cowlitz Tribe is building a 368,000-square-foot gaming, dining, entertainment, and meeting destination on 152 acres along Interstate 5, approximately 20 miles north of the Columbia River. The developer is Salishan-Mohegan LLC Gaming, a partnership of Cowlitz citizen David Barnett’s Salishan Company LLC and the Mohegan Tribe. Salishan-Mohegan will manage the casino-resort; the Cowlitz Tribe is the owner.

The Friedmutter Group is the architect and interior designer; its portfolio includes the Cache Creek Casino Resort (Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation); Graton Resort & Casino (Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria); Gun Lake Resort Casino (Gun Lake Tribe); Harrah’s Resort Southern California (Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians); Northern Edge Casino (Navajo Nation); Pala Casino Spa & Resort (Pala Band of Mission Indians); Quechan Casino Resort (Quechan Tribe); Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (Seminole Tribe), Thunder Valley Casino Resort (United Auburn Indian Community); Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino (Gila River Indian Community).

The Quinault Beach Resort and Casino is undergoing a major expansion. (Courtesy Quinault Nation)

The general contractor, Swinterton Builders, has completed projects for 10 Native Nations, among them the Lummi Nation’s administration building, Yakama Legends Casino and several projects in Friedmutter’s portfolio.
Cowlitz Casino Resort is scheduled to open in spring 2017, according to the project website.

Cowlitz Casino Resort will have a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,500 slots, 60 high-limit slots, 75 gaming tables, and five high-limit tables; convention and entertainment space for up to 2,500 guests; and more than 15 restaurants, bars and retail shops; and 3,000 on-site parking spaces. According to the website, the casino resort’s design and décor will “bring forward the culture of the Northwest and pay tribute to the heritage of the Cowlitz Tribe.”

Cowlitz Casino Resort will create nearly 1,000 new jobs, 250 of them construction, according to the project website.

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