CUSICK, Wash. – The Kalispel Tribe will open a small casino on its reservation this fall as part of a $10.5 million economic development project that includes an RV park, gas station, fresh market and storage facility.
The Kalispel Park development on state Highway 20 north of Cusick will employ about 75 full- and part-time workers.
Members of the tribe and community gathered to celebrate the project Wednesday morning.
“This is a very special day for our tribe, because it’s right here at home,” said Curt Holmes, a member of the Kalispel Tribe’s council and executive director of public and government affairs. “We’ve done much bigger things, but this brings new economic development to our backyard.”
The tribe also owns and operates Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights, which opened in 2000. That facility is undergoing a large expansion. Together, Northern Quest’s expansion and Kalispel Park development represent about $80 million in new investment, Holmes said.
The lodge-style casino in Cusick will feature 125 slot machines, a banquet room that can accommodate 150 people, a 70-seat restaurant and a bar with pool tables and shuffleboard. Table games could be added in the future, if there’s interest from customers, tribal officials said.
Although gaming will be offered at the 20,000-square-foot facility, the tribe expects the other attractions to provide the draw.
“We have a restaurant and banquet facilities that has some limited gaming,” Holmes said. “Gaming has plateaued (in the region). … It’s becoming an amenity.”
At Northern Quest, the tribe is expanding its entertainment options to attract families, who may or may not be interested in gambling, Holmes said.
The Kalispel Park development will have 33 RV hookups and eight tiny homes for short-term, tourism rentals. Tribal officials anticipate having the park open by early August, in time for the Kalispel Tribe’s annual powwow. They also envision the RV park becoming a stop for people traveling on the International Selkirk Loop through northeast Washington and British Columbia.
Eventually, the RV park could tie into other tourism efforts in Pend Oreille County, Holmes said.
“People flock out here because it’s so beautiful. You could stay here and rent a kayak” to paddle the Pend Oreille River, he said. “Or, you could take a snowmobile tour.”
Kalispel Market is scheduled to open this summer. The market is designed as “a blend of grocery store, convenience store and corner shop,” Holmes said.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and staples for healthy, scratch cooking will be stocked in the store, which also will have a deli and will offer free internet access. An outdoor area has been set aside for locally grown produce in a farmers market-type setting. The tribe is interested in working with area butchers to feature locally produced meats, Holmes said.
The closest, large grocery store is in Newport, about 25 minutes away.
“Our community is in a food desert, so to speak,” Holmes said. “A lot of us have to travel a long way to access affordable food and fuel.”
The Kalispel Park development also will have a 20-unit storage facility as well as laundry and shower facilities for long-haul truck drivers using Highway 20.
Glen Nenema, the Kalispel’s chairman and chief executive, said the tribe has long envisioned job-creating activity on the 60-acre site along the highway. But since the area lies in a flood plain, the land had to be raised and tribe had to agree to wetland mitigation before development could occur.
More than 1.35 million cubic yards of soil were brought in to create the building site. In addition, the tribe upgraded water and sewer treatment facilities.
The Kalispel Tribe currently employs about 450 people on its 4,660-acre reservation at its tribal headquarters, wellness center and other business ventures.
Garco Construction of Spokane is the general contractor on the Kalispel Park development.
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