September 19, 2014

Hotel discussion dominates casino CEO meet and greet

Tim Barnum
Saganing Eagles Landing CEO Wendy Reeve talks with Arenac County EDC Chairman Chris Shannon at the meet and greet.
Tim Barnum
Wendy Reeve introduces herself and talks about her background in gaming and service.
Tim Barnum
Business men and women, elected officials and representatives from organizations listen as Reeve tells about her plans for the casinos in Standish and Mount Pleasant.
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STANDISH TWP. — A meet and greet with Soaring Eagle Casino and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino chief executive officer Wendy Reeve evolved into a discussion about the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s plans for a hotel on the Saganing Reservation.

The meet and greet with Reeve was held Oct. 25 at the Saganing Tribal Center in Standish Township. Several area business people, elected officials and representatives of local organizations were invited. After Reeve was introduced and spoke about her background, many of the guests asked questions about a hotel and conference center that was proposed several years ago, but put on hold indefinitely in 2010.

Reeve said members of the SCIT Tribal Council approached her about the prospective expansion after hiring her as CEO about six months ago, and that she conducted a study regarding the viability of building one.

“I decided that right now, you don’t need one,” Reeve said during the meet and greet.

According to Reeve, if having a large hotel near Standish was economically feasible, hotel chains would have begun looking at building near the city.

“If it was a viable economic project, they would have come in here and done it,” she said.

Many of the local guests shared with Reeve why they felt a hotel and conference center would be beneficial to the community and tribe. Standish-Sterling Community Schools Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said Standish-Sterling Central High School hosts a large swim meet every year, as well as several youth wrestling meets where more than 400 wrestlers compete. He said having a hotel nearby would be appreciated by the athletes and their families.

“The complaint I hear from people is there’s nowhere to stay in this area,” he said.

Kroczaleski said for the annual swim meet, where eight to 10 teams compete, teams stay overnight outside of Arenac County.

“For the last few years, the northern teams stay in West Branch, and the southern teams stay in Bay City,” he said.

Standish Mayor Mark Winslow said the city has been asked to host municipal conferences, but could not accommodate officials from several cities due to the lack of a large conference center.

“A meeting place is a significant concern of ours,” he said. “The city of Standish has been approached in the past about hosting the Michigan Municipal League.”

Reeve said that she has just recently started to switch gears away from her first two goals since being hired, which were to clean up the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort and get the tribe’s revenue in order. She said those issues are close to being resolved, and now she can begin to focus on items such as future developments.

Reeve said she has had 30 years of experience in the gaming and service, starting in London, England in 1983. She said she has also worked on cruise ships, and worked in the gaming industry in San Diego, Calif., for 20 years before getting hired by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

The meet and greet was organized by the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation.

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