With our annual independent audit now complete, it’s clear momentum builds around business development in Lac du Flambeau.
Organically the Lac du Flambeau Business Development Corporation (BDC) is performing well and becoming more focused across the enterprise. Strategically, we have positioned the organization to scale up with new business ventures in the coming year.
The regional business, economic and social benefits of our planned Workforce Training & Business Development Center within the Lac du Flambeau Business Park are undeniable. It’s another mission-driven action. Financing is secure and design is underway. Market analysis drove this infrastructure investment to:
- Train unemployed/underemployed for high-demand, high-wage positions
- Stimulate new business formation and expansion
- Expand the overall economic strength of the area; Lac du Flambeau has a 75-acre business park with the Workforce Training & Business Development Center as the business park’s first tenant.
After fulfilling its first federal government project—achieving an exceptional rating—LDF Construction began its second federal government project toward the end of FY2018. A third project was recently awarded for work at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin.
LDF Construction now is certified to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program and the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Minority Business Enterprise Program. And, it resides within a HUB Zone (historically underutilized business zone).
These designations help LDF Construction compete for direct-bid contracts as well as jumpstart partnerships and alliances with other organizations. These tools and experiences can be leveraged to create more jobs and build self-sustaining economic futures in the region.
LDF Construction continues to build out its network of opportunities within the region and down state. Federal and state certifications secured in 2018 have increased conversations with interested large and mid-sized contracting firms. These firms and others are anticipated to continue to show interest in collaborating with us on projects in 2019. Growth will be deliberate to ensure we are partnering in a mutually beneficial way.
LDF Country Market
Plans for a new $3.345 million retail center at the LDF Country Market continue to move ahead. The new retail experience, including product selection, store layout, and ambiance, were very carefully chosen to maximize the consumer and employee experiences. We expect our meat, seafood, produce and bakery departments and other high-quality products will go from being the area’s best kept secret to the area’s best shopping experience when the new building opens. The new design brings brand-name groceries, grab-and-go meals, authentic Native jewelry and tobacco, and fuel under one roof. We expect to break ground on the new store offering this summer with anticipated completion in the spring of 2020.
At LDF Holdings, revenue growth and job creation continue with the launch of new online lending entities. Coupled with our leading-edge compliance efforts and business practices, we’ve quickly become an online lending leader in many states. Our success comes from a variety of sources. We have a wonderful, dedicated team of professionals working to ensure a seamless experience for our service providers. We have an engaging network of service providers who take extremely good care of customers.
Opportunity Zones are described as the largest federal economic development program in the last 15 years. Created under the federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Opportunity Zones are designed to drive long-term capital to rural and low-income urban communities by investors seeking capital gains tax shelter.
Qualified Opportunity Zone projects typically fall into four categories. Commercial real estate and renovation. Opening a new business. Existing business expansion into an Opportunity Zone. And, existing business expansion within an Opportunity Zone.
Lac du Flambeau has five emerging districts. Each has an anchor tenant, making future development projects attractive.
LDF’s entertainment district is anchored by the resort casino. The retail district will be anchored by a new and expanded Country Market retail center. The industrial and business park on Thoroughfare Road prepares for construction of the new Workforce Training and Business Development Center. And, the downtown district qualifies with many opportunities to revitalize buildings. Finally, demand for housing exists and will only grow as more development occurs within the Opportunity Zone.
Collaborative events this past year with regional economic development authorities, tribal agencies, developers and investors indicate 2019 will build on what’s possible within Opportunity Zones.
Independent Audit Results
Certified public accounting firm WIPFLi conducted the FY 2018 audit of BDC, the non-gaming economic development arm of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
After reviewing BDC financial reports, the independent auditors concluded BDC Executive Management submitted accurate financial reports. The auditors also concluded BDC financial processes and reporting follow generally accepted accounting principles and accurately reflects BDC’s financial health.
The full report is available for review by Tribal Members at the BDC offices.
Darold Londo is CEO of LDF Business Development Corporation (LDFBDC.com). An LUHS graduate, he earned degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MBA) in Troy, N.Y., and UW Law School.