ONEIDA NATION HOMELANDS—The economy leads the news most days–from high unemployment in this country to companies sending operations and jobs overseas to the ongoing debt crisis. Here in Central New York there are several employers providing economic stability to area workers—employers that are not moving out of state or out of the country. The Oneida Indian Nation creates jobs in Central New York and keeps them here. The Nation has never stopped investing in the area and shares a deep responsibility to its people, the land of its ancestors and the region.
The Oneida Nation’s employment has increased from 119 in 1990 to 4,500 today—an increase of 3,681 percent. The Nation is the top employer in Oneida and Madison counties and one of the top five employers in the 16 counties of greater Central New York. One thing that makes the Nation’s enterprises successful is its employees.
Dan Jones started working for the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino a couple of months before it opened its doors for business in July 1993. He was a table games dealer at the then -small casino. Jones had been living away from the area and wanted to get back to Central New York where he grew up and his family remained. After several promotions over the years, he is now director of domestic VIP Services. “Getting a job at Turning Stone was a chance to be close to family, raise my own family and build a career,” stated Jones. “I have seen the Nation’s businesses grow and become the engine of the regional economy.”
Unlike Jones, Jeff Rudder has been in Central New York for only six months. He came here from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts in Pennsylvania. As director of sales at Turning Stone, he is responsible for selling the destination, which includes the hotel guest rooms, meeting space and exhibit areas to guests and groups. The Turning Stone complex he came to though is much more expansive than the property Jones started at. “I took on this responsibility because I see the immediate potential our destination has to offer in the meetings’ industry,” said Rudder. “Turning Stone is a hidden gem and that offers an exciting opportunity for anyone in sales.”
For Roxanne Lucenti, a career at Turning Stone was an opportunity to come home. A native of the Utica, N.Y. area, Lucenti had worked in the gaming industry in Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe. She came to work at Turning Stone as a manager in 1998, just after its first hotel opened and is currently director of hotel operations at the property that now has four hotels with more than 700 rooms. “Coming to Turning Stone was a win-win opportunity for me,” said Lucenti. “It was a golden opportunity to be at a resort that was not only growing but doing so through high end service to its guests.”
Another newer employee, Mike Turkett, was named compensation manager in the Nation’s human resources department about a year ago. He came to the Nation from a management position at Baldwin Richardson Foods. According to Turkett, “Working for the Nation offered me something beyond my past job experiences; a chance to grow personally and professionally. It meant working with a diverse group of employees in many areas, from government operations to retail, media and the many facets of a destination getaway.”
In addition to its destination resort that attracts more than four and half million visitors a year and 1,000 business meetings and wedding receptions, the Oneidas’ business operations include the S?vOn chain of gas stations and convenience stores; RV Park; three marinas; Indian Country Today Media Network, the premier national multi-media source for American Indian news and information; Four Directions Productions – a 3D animation/HD cinematography studio; fishing lodge; and a car care center.
The employees are a big part of the Nation’s economic impact. The payroll is more than $126 million—with employees paying nearly $24 million in state and federal taxes. The employees then turn around and purchase items both big and small, including homes, food, fuel, cars, cell phones and clothing.
The Nation’s contribution to the economy also comes from what it spends for goods and services—$285 million in 2010. The breakdown of the Nation’s spending included $185 million spent for goods and services in New York State–$114 million of that from local businesses and service providers in Oneida, Madison and Onondaga counties. Since 1993, the Nation has spent more than $2 billion for goods and services.