NYTs Article about Entrepreneurialism in Detroit

Ah, romanticizing the Great Recession….

From the NYTs:

DETROIT — With $6,000 and some Hollywood-style spunk, four friends opened this city’s only independent foreign movie house three months ago in an abandoned school auditorium on an unlighted stretch of the Cass Corridor near downtown.

After the unlikely hoopla of an opening night, red-carpet-style event in an area known for drugs and prostitution, exactly four customers showed up to see a film.

Since then, the Burton Theater has had a few profitable nights. But, the owners say, this adventure in entrepreneurship was never completely about making money. It was also about creating a more livable community.

“Nobody could comprehend why we’d start a theater,” said an investor, Nathan Faustyn, 25. “But when you live in Detroit, you ask, ‘What can I do for the city?’ We needed this. And we had nothing to lose. When you’re at the bottom of the economic ladder, you have nowhere to look but up.”

Despite the recession — and in some cases because of it — small businesses are budding around Detroit in one of the more surprising twists of the downturn. Some new businesses like the Burton are scratching by. Others have already grown beyond the initial scope of their business plans, juggling hundreds of customers and expanding into new sites.

Across from the Burton, for instance, Jennifer Willemsen just celebrated the first anniversary of her shop, Curl Up and Dye, a retro-themed hair salon serving 1,500 clients. Not far away, Torya Blanchard, a former French teacher, recently opened the second location of Good Girls Go to Paris, a creperie. Next door, Greg Lenhoff, also a former teacher, opened a bookstore in August called Leopold’s. Continue reading

Impact of Michigan’s Smoking Ban on Indian Casinos

From the AP:

DETROIT (AP) — If smoking is banned in Detroit bars, restaurants and workplaces, Betty Gilbert says it will hurt the city’s casinos.

Gilbert, who was smoking a cigarette Friday with members of her bowling team on a sidewalk near Greektown Casino downtown, should know. The 69-year-old from Cape May County, N.J. — who said she usually gambles weekly in Atlantic City — plans to cut back when that city’s smoking law goes into effect.

“If they cut out the smoking, they should also cut out the drinking,” Gilbert said.

A ban passed by the Michigan Senate on Thursday now heads to the House, which passed a narrower bill five months ago. If the new bill becomes law, smokers could pass up the trip downtown to gamble and head instead to Indian casinos, which aren’t affected, industry observers said.

Continue reading

Fletcher Op/Ed on the Off-Reservation Market

From Indian Country Today:

Tribes’ economic plans stifled by policy

© Indian Country Today February 01, 2008. All Rights Reserved

Posted: February 01, 2008 by: Matthew L.M. Fletcher

The region where the city of Detroit now rests used to be, centuries ago, a major trading market for the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples and others. A permanent community of Indian people from all around lived in the vicinity and thrived off of the marketplace, while most Indians who traded there would travel to the market periodically from their homelands. There are places like this all over North America, such as Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

Continue reading

NYTs Article on Don Barden, once partner to Michigan gaming tribes

From the NYT:

For Casino Owner, Winning a License Was Not a Matter of Luck

Published: December 12, 2007

PITTSBURGH — Don H. Barden could have scheduled the groundbreaking for his $450 million casino on his 64th birthday, Dec. 20, if he wanted. After all, he owns what is projected to be the most lucrative of Pennsylvania’s 14 slots casino licenses.

Continue reading

Rep. Miller: Dems & Detroit Killed Sault Tribe and BMIC Bills

From the Port Huron Times Herald:

Your recent editorial about efforts to bring a casino to Port Huron shows the Times Herald is, at best, completely naive as to the politics behind this issue in Washington, D.C.

It is almost laughable that you are urging me to stand up to the bullying of my fellow Republicans to get this legislation passed. It is true some Republican members of Congress are opposed to any gaming expansion; however, as you may be aware, the Democrats control both the U.S. House and the Senate, every committee chairmanship and what legislation is heard in committee and on the floor.


Our bills were scheduled to be approved by the Natural Resources Committee. We were certain we had the necessary votes for passage, which is why it appears that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada called Speaker Nancy Pelosi and asked her to pull the bill. We are aware that Las Vegas Casino interests and other tribes that fear competition were heavily lobbying against our bills, as were Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, members of Congress representing Detroit.

Hammitte v. Leavitt: Detroit Urban Indians Case Dismissed

The federal district court in Detroit granted the motion to dismiss filed by the United States/Indian Health Service on October 11, 2007.

The opinion is here.

Hammitte v. Leavitt Complaint

United States Motion to Dismiss

Hammitte Response to Motion

United States Reply Brief