Tribe’s casino winnings fund green jobs in Arlington

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Joe Poslusny was unemployed for six months, his options running out, when he left his home state of New Jersey for the West Coast.

“This was definitely a blessing,” said the 27-year-old Washington transplant.

He landed in Arlington and found a good, solid job at MicroGreen Polymers, a start-up company that manufactures eco-friendly cups from recycled plastic bottles. It was the break Poslusny had been hoping for. “There was no work back in New Jersey,” he said. “I saw an opportunity and I took it.”

It was a gamble that brought a jackpot for Joe. Now, many more people in search of a job will be able to share in that good luck. The Stillaguamish tribe is investing $5 million in MicroGreen -- casino cash wagered on the company’s emerging green technologies.

The company believes the infusion of cash will allow it to hire 155 people this year. It’s gambling money that is now flowing off the reservation and back into the community.

“Our Native kids go to school with our neighbors. Our elders are friends and work with our neighbors. We're all one community. This helps us all,” said Koran Andrews, the tribe’s enterprise corporation CEO.

This is believed to be one of the first multi-million dollar investments in a white-owned company by a Northwest tribe. It will allow MicroGreen to expand more quickly and invest in developing new technologies.

Company CEO Tom Malone said a new generation of young tribal leaders is pushing a different sort of economic plan. “I think many Indian tribes are focusing on diversifying casino income to investments that are good for the next generation and future generations," he said.

Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said the partnership is exciting. “We have so many people who need jobs and so many people with great ideas. All they need is some investment to bring them together," Tolbert said.

For Joe Poslusny, it's an investment in his future, one he hopes his new neighbors in Arlington will profit from as well. “I’m engaged to be married now. I’ll be able to get a house soon, get a new car. What a great opportunity," he said.

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