Native American Finance Officers Association Treasurer Kim Peone, right, presented the Grand Ronde Tribe with a Deal of the Year Award during the group’s 32nd annual conference held April 14-15 in New Orleans. Representing the Tribe at the NAFOA conference were, from left, Finance Officer Julio Martinez, Economic Development Director Titu Asghar, Tribal Council member Denise Harvey and Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno.
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde honored for its investment in MicroGREEN Polymers
NEW ORLEANS — The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde received a Deal of the Year Award at the Native American Financial Officers Association’s seventh annual Leadership Awards luncheon held Tuesday, April 15, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.
The Tribe was recognized during the association’s 32nd annual conference for its $10 million investment in MicroGREEN Polymer’s InCycle cups. The Arlington, Washington-based company has created a technology to make high-quality cups from recycled water bottles.
In August, the Tribe funded a $5 million equity investment in MicroGREEN and followed that with a second $5 million infusion of funding in January. In December, the Tribe loaned $8 million to Tribally owned Ilihi LLC, which in turn loaned the funds to MicroGREEN.
“NAFOA is recognizing the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde … for their commitment to environmental sustainability in their investment approach and for their efforts to diversify their investment portfolio, particularly among alternative investments,” the association stated.
“The Tribe’s traditional teachings recognize the responsibility of Native people to remain stewards of Mother Earth. By honoring these teachings, the Tribe has made a concerted effort to develop revenue streams that not only provide financially for their people, but also adopt a long-term strategy by looking seven-generations ahead.”
Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno accepted the award for the Tribe.
“It is a pretty prestigious award for us,” Leno said. “It shows that we’re heading in the right direction. We have several other investments out there, but this one was recognized as one of the best in Indian Country. It was a $10 million deal and a great investment. It seems to be really picking up speed and it falls in line with our culture of staying green. If you take care of Mother Earth, Mother Earth takes care of you.”
“It is a great win for us to be recognized by NAFOA for our decision to invest in MicroGREEN,” said Tribal Economic Development Director Titu Asghar. “This strategy of investment is the future, representing an innovative shift in financial diversification for us.
“We are looking ahead several generations to create an economically sustainable future, supporting clean technology that helps correct wasteful practices with environmentally sound products that are simply better in performance.”
Tom Malone, MicroGREEN’s chief executive officer, said the Tribe’s equity investments and loan have enabled the company to buy equipment that allows it to re-extrude recycled plastic into the plastic sheets from which InCycle cups are manufactured.
“It is because they are stewards of the environment just like we are that the Tribe has invested,” Malone said.
MicroGREEN’s technology allows it to be a low-cost producer in very large and highly cost-sensitive applications, the first of which are beverage cups, a $7 billion market in North America.
Three airlines – Alaska, Allegiant Air and Virgin America – have been using InCycle cups. Recently, United Airlines replaced their foam cups with InCycle cups. Other airlines are in talks with MicroGREEN.
Malone said that 60 percent of MicroGREEN’s new production capacity at the Arlington plant is already committed.
Asghar, Leno, Tribal Council member Denise Harvey, Tribal Finance Officer Julio Martinez and Assistant Tribal Attorney Kim D’Aquila represented the Tribe at the annual conference.