An Aboriginal business development conference wrapped up on Friday afternoon just outside of Saskatoon.
The two-day Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network Forum took place at the Dakota Dunes Casino.
Enoch Casino Corporation President Robert Morin and Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reg Bellerose were two of the keynote speakers to close out the conference.
The Edmonton-based River Cree Resort and Casino went to the bond markets in order to gain startup funding when it first opened eight years ago.
Morin says with the Western economy currently booming, capital is definitely out there if First Nations investors are willing to look for it.
“Right now, when you look at it, the industries and the different businesses going on there’s lots of growth happening, there’s business buildings and you name it – infrastructure going forward in and around the major centres,” he says.
Morin also says First Nations investors need not fear taking on partners to get a business development project going.
The River Cree Resort and Casino initially took on a partner when it opened in 2006 but later bought this partner out.
The Muskowekwan First Nation is currently moving forward with an on-reserve potash mine.
The project is worth billions of dollars and will take years to come to fruition.
Chief Bellerose says the key to keeping band members on board is ensuring they are engaged every step of the way.
“You hope that by implementing your training, those types of plans, well in advance that you’re going to be able to keep people engaged,” he says.
Bellerose adds First Nations need to address social needs while thinking long term in their economic planning.
This is the third year the economic development forum has taken place.