The Rainy Lake Tribal Development Corp. hit what it hopes will be one of many milestones as it was presented with its very first dividend cheque Friday.
“Today we’re here to accept a dividend cheque that’s coming from Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting, one of our first economic development ventures from the development corporation started a couple years ago,” Tony Marinaro, economic development officer with Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, which oversees the RLTDC, said about the cheque for more than $155,000.
“The whole intent of the Rainy Lake Tribal Development Corp. was to get into partnerships and start businesses that would provide revenue streams back to the First Nations so that they don’t have to be dependent on government funding,” noted Marinaro.
“And this is just the start of greater things to come.”
The RLTDC was established by area First Nations that invested their own funds to start up the organization, explained Marinaro.
With these funds, he went out to make partnerships and invest in businesses.
Besides Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting, the RLTDC currently has four other businesses in place, including the Landmark Inn in Thunder Bay, Rainy Lake Logistics, First Peoples Insurance, and the Rainy Lake First Nations Pharmacy being built at the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre, which Marinaro said will be opening in a couple of weeks.
“[Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting] is one of the businesses that is doing very well, and is able at this point to return some of the investment back to the people,” he remarked.
Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting’s operation today is “probably tenfold” compared to what it was when it started a year ago, Marinaro added, thanks to its involvement with both Rainy River Resources and Osisko Hammond Reef Gold Ltd.
“We’ve got a lot of equipment on the ground, a lot of work going on, a lot of drilling, so there’s funds available to pay back some of the profits,” he said.
“That’s something that we’re very proud of and we look forward to ongoing success with our other ventures.”
“[The success of Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting] is about capitalizing on opportunity together,” said general manager Larry George.
“We had great success in our first year,” he enthused. “We’ve been able to create a number of jobs for the First Nation communities.”
“I think the success of the
company is based on working together and sharing resources, sharing opportunity,” agreed George’s wife and Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting director, Michelle.
“It demonstrates that if we work collectively, we can all achieve success.
“This company isn’t about one,” she stressed. “It’s about all and what we can do together.”
The company had as many as 85 people employed this past summer while maintaining about 45 employees at present, George noted.
“Osisko and Rainy River Resources have been big supporters of Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting, and we’ve been fortunate to be involved in this evolving industry,” he added.
“It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of other industry in the area.
“We’ve done a lot of work with them,” George said. “We’re involved heavily with their drill program.
“We have eight drills working within the scope of the Osisko project [and] we have three diamond drills working within the scope of the Rainy River Resources project.”
As well, Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting has had a number of opportunities when it comes to construction, George remarked.
This summer, for instance, they built 22 km of road to access Osisko’s mine site.
Additionally, site development and road construction opportunities were undertaken within the scope of the Rainy River Resources project near Blackhawk.
“With this partnership has come many things—it’s training opportunities, it’s capacity building, it’s employment opportunities, and it’s just an opportunity to participate in the local economy and share,” George explained.
“We’re proud to be able to accept this dividend cheque from [George],” said Marinaro.
“With all the work that’s been going on and the contracts that have been secured, First Nations get a real foothold in participating in the local economy,” he noted.
“There’s been a lot of employment opportunities, and it’s been beneficial to all people throughout the district through having this venture.
“We’re very proud to have a successful business and have such great management behind it,” Marinaro enthused.