Cherokee Nation Fueling Economic Growth in Northeast Oklahoma

Cherokee National Treasure Tommy Wildcat, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin and Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. tour the new W.W. Hastings expansion with Cooper Flintco Superintendent Brian Kizzia.

Guest Commentary

Published April 2, 2018

Cherokee Nation’s impact within our 14-county jurisdiction in northeast Oklahoma is undeniable. Ask any public school superintendent, county commissioner or small-business owner. From funding public education, building new roads and bridges and supporting first responders, Cherokee Nation’s role as a leader is clearly defined and distinct.

By far, one of the tribe’s largest impacts is on economic development and job creation. Cherokee Nation remains the engine that drives northeast Oklahoma economically. The tribe and its businesses currently employ more than 11,000 people and have a $2.03 billion economic impact on the state of Oklahoma.

Recently in Tahlequah, we topped out the new facility on the W.W. Hastings health campus, which will open in 2019. Once it is operating at full capacity and completely staffed in the coming years it will create 850 new health care jobs, and it will have a major impact in housing and retail needs.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Also in our capital city, we just broke ground on a new gaming site that will house a modern convention center. Our workforce at Cherokee Casino Tahlequah will be about 220 permanent jobs. The W.W. Hastings campus and Cherokee Casino Tahlequah will help fulfill our jobs mission in our home community. It will create dozens of good careers that include lucrative benefits packages with insurance and 401(k) plans. That means Cherokee families are making a good living here in Cherokee County. The future conference center is really the feather in the cap of this expansion for northeast Oklahoma.  There is a huge need in our region for a convention hall-type space that can house multiple meetings where people can stay, meet and eat in one location.

These new properties will be a regional attraction for health care and tourism, not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of construction jobs and opportunities these projects provide the region.

However, Cherokee Nation’s impact transcends just our own developments. We are good partners with regional entities like universities, career-techs and chambers of commerce. Collaboration with the Tulsa Chamber enabled Cherokee Nation to assist an Italian corporation, Sofidel America, on its expansion into Rogers County. The new paper manufacturing facility in Inola will create 300 permanent jobs and another 500 construction jobs. We are excited to continue partnering with state and municipal partners to create opportunities like this, because it supports our entire region.

The tribe’s Career Services Department, a critical team member in securing Macy’s Fulfillment Center workforce in Owasso, is now assisting DMI in expanding its employee base in Wagoner. DMI, a HVAC manufacturing company, has made significant investments in the community in the past year, and we are helping connect our people to good manufacturing jobs like these.

Our work in growing the economy within our 14 counties is a blessing, and we are proudly leading the way through innovation and collaboration. We believe in making sound investments that have a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people and all of northeast Oklahoma.

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