Oneida Nation Enterprises aims to build on record-breaking year
VERONA — Oneida Nation Enterprise (ONE) has had a busy and successful year, with awards, expansions, and record-breaking increases in reinvestments.
“It’s been a historic year, from an [Oneida Nation Enterprise] standpoint to a government and cultural standpoint,” said Joel Barkin, the Oneida Indian Nation’s vice president of communications.
Turning Stone Resort Casino’s 7 Kitchens, its largest restaurant, opened near the start of 2022 to great success, prompting an expansion of its market-style buffet to include weekend brunch.
Additionally, Casino Player Magazine gave Turning Stone the title of “No. 1 Best Overall Dining in New York” earlier that year.
On the cultural side of things, the Oneida Indian Nation broke ground on a new community and cultural center located on OIN lands. OIN Representative and ONE Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter said when complete, the community center will “... truly be the center of our Nation — an investment in the very heart of our community and a permanent representation of all the history and meaning that term encompasses.”
Also last year was the opening of The Cove in Sylvan Beach, one of the ONE’s latest vacation and recreation attractions. With 70 two- and three-bedroom cottages, each with its own pontoon boat and every amenity needed for a relaxed and comfortable stay, The Cove has become a premier destination at the beach.
In terms of investments, the Oneida Indian Nation’s operations increased their total investment in vendors in New York State by more than $64 million for a total of $254 million with more than 1,300 different vendors. This represents a 34% increase in vendor spending from 2021.
In addition to the money spent on vendors and capital projects, the Oneida Indian Nation paid more than $85 million to New York State and the counties around it as part of a settlement agreement from 2013.
And with the Turning Stone’s 30th anniversary coming up soon, Barkin said that it will go through “… the largest evolution in the last 20 years.”
“We’ll be doubling the size of our convention space, and we’ll be adding a new 250-room hotel,” Barkin said. “Adding this hotel will completely redefine the property and be the anchor for the next 30 years.”
It is expected that the construction will bring in millions of dollars to the local economy, especially for local businesses and suppliers.
The Oneida Indian Nation has selected Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt as the general contractor and will also utilize Central New York trade unions, creating hundreds of local construction jobs, officials said in a 2022 press release.
The Oneida Indian Nation has selected the architecture and design firm Gensler as its development partner for the expansion. Gensler serves more than 3,500 clients with 52 locations around the world. Gensler has been the lead designer and architect for other leading destinations, including City Center in Las Vegas, Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Washington and Walt Disney World’s Swan Reserve.
When asked what to expect for 2023, Barkin said that the World Series of Poker would be back at the Turning Stone.
“We’re the only property in New York State to offer [The World Series of Poker],” Barkin said. “Last year, we had people travel from 22 states and provinces to attend.”
On top of this, Turning Stone will once again be hosting the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The 2022 International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend saw the Turning Stone host its first-ever fight, with 4,350 fans in the seats watching Bakhodir Jalolov go up against “Big Jack” Mulowayi.
“We’ve got a number of other big events we’ll be announcing later in the year,” Barkin said. “It’s a big year, and while  was big,  is promising to be even bigger.”
Even with all this growth, expansion, and investment, Turning Stone and Oneida Nation Enterprises have continued to invest in the community.
“We hired close to 400 new employees, and payroll increased significantly as well, increasing wages across the board,” Barkin said. “We just announced a new starting wage for cooks at $20 an hour.”
And to add to all of that, Oneida Nation Enterprises constructed 50 new apartments in Verona for its hourly workers, new hires in select positions, and those seeking to relocate.
“As we begin our 30th year at Turning Stone, we know that reinvestment in our people and our community has been the key to our success,” said Halbritter.
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