Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye addresses economic summit attendees
Published April 28, 2018
TWIN ARROWS—At the 3rd Annual Navajo Nation Economic Summit, held from April 23-25 at the Twin Arrows Conference Center, President Russell Begaye spoke about changing the dynamics of the Navajo economy.
“There are many opportunities for small businesses to thrive on Navajo,” President Begaye said. “Millions of dollars flow from the Navajo Nation into border towns and beyond. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When an individual on Navajo is successful in business that helps build our economy by capturing those dollars before they leave the nation.”
The theme of the summit this year was the “Road to Regional Diversification.” By having a diverse economy, the nation will have greater security over the long-run, said Division of Economic Development (DED) Director Sean McCabe.
“We are at a point where we must reinvest in Navajo business in the way of infrastructure and new policies to help, rather than hinder, our business efforts,” McCabe said. “This will all lead to a stronger, healthier and more diverse economic portfolio for the future.”
The summit provided information for business leaders to help them understand the process and resources of the nation. Sessions for the first day included a roundtable discussion on the procurement and purchasing process, a presentation on business site leasing, advice on writing grants, information on Navajo taxes and on registering, certifying and recertifying businesses on the Navajo Nation.
“I firmly believe that in order to operate a successful business, a change must occur between economic development and community development,” Vice President Nez said. “These worlds are not mutually exclusive and do not operate separately. Therefore, they should not be handled individually.”
Vice President Nez offered the model of Indigenous Nation Building, which he says is currently in practice in Indian Country today.
On the second day of the summit, President Begaye delivered the opening address and discussed recent business developments. Following the president, special guest speaker James Anderson gave the keynote speech called the “Recipes for Success.”
Anderson is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe and is the co-founder of the Lifeskills Center for Leadership, a personal development training company. He is also the President of James Anderson Production and the son of the founder of Famous Dave’s.
There were eight awards given during a banquet held on the second night. Two were given for the Distinguished Most Honorable Business Award: Dyron Murphy Architects and Speedy Septic Sales and Services. Goldtooth Precision Solutions, Inc. won the Small Business Sector Award. Pizza Edge won the Commercial Sector Award. Nations Gas Technologies, Inc. won the Industrial Sector Award. Iiná Bà, Inc. won the Construction Sector Award. Desert View Funeral Home won the Professional Services Award. Crawley’s Monument Valley Tours won the Tourism Award.
The third day of the summit was focused on business matchmaking to give attendees an additional opportunity to collaborate with the business to business (B2B) buyer/supplier one-to-one meetings. Over 250 meetings occurred during the session with 34 Navajo buyers who met with 58 Navajo small businesses.
“I think the turnout at the B2B portion of the summit is a reflection of the Navajo business community working together to keep Navajo dollars on Navajo,” McCabe said. “This type of collaboration shows what we can do together as a nation when it comes to long-term, sustainable economic development.”
The Office of the President and Vice President would like to thank DED for hosting the summit, the Navajo business community for attending and the event’s sponsors, including Navajo Transitional Energy Company, Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, Diné Development Corporation, Discover Navajo, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, and Navajo Nation Shopping Centers, Sign Vision, Red Mesa Trading Post, Advertising Ideas and Tapahe Photography.