Grand Traverse Band Sets New Economic Development Course

By Luke Haase | July 9, 2018

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, already one of the region’s economic powerhouses, has a big new goal: contracting with the federal government, the world’s largest buyer of goods and services.

The Band’s non-gaming arm, Grand Traverse Economic Development Corp. (GTED), was created in 2012 to invest a portion of the proceeds from its two casinos in non-gaming enterprises.

Having gone through several CEOs and investments with mixed success — including Harpo’s Coffee Cafe in Traverse City — the organization now has a much bigger vision. Thomas Wilbur was recruited by the Band to lead GTED into the lucrative world of contracting with the federal government. A member of the Oneida tribe of Wisconsin, Wilbur has also been a captain in the U.S. Army, served as an executive at Mobil Oil, and has led other organizations’ entry into federal contracting.

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