Guest Opinion. The Cherokee Nation building boom is on. Right now, we are investing more than $750 million in capital improvements across more than 50 construction projects on our 14-county reservation. Whether new health care facilities, family homes, community centers or more, Cherokee Nation is putting up buildings that will serve our people well for many decades.
With all of this construction, we have a great need for skilled contractors. We also want to prioritize supporting local, Native-owned businesses. To keep up with the demand, we have implemented a system of text messages for bid solicitations. This is a significant leap forward to streamline communication, improve convenience for contractors, and move construction projects forward quickly and cost effectively.
This initiative is a joint project of the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation, along with the tribe’s Career Services, Commerce, and Information Technology departments. Cherokee Nation’s embrace of technology, collaboration and economic development sets a positive example for other tribes and local governments to follow.
For contractors to receive these notifications, certification as a TERO vendor is required. This ensures that companies are both qualified and registered in the tribe’s TERO program. Already, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Employment Rights Office has identified more than 700 Indian-owned contracting businesses for the service.
We are committed to giving these TERO-certified vendors priority access to tribal construction projects. That means we support good jobs and business opportunities for Cherokees and other Natives as we construct new homes for Cherokee families, grow health clinics, develop wellness centers, expand Head Start campuses and improve community centers across our lands.
Previously, contractors had to monitor a website to identify available projects for bidding. However, this new system delivers real-time notifications directly to mobile phones. Messages and bids are customized based on keywords and trade specialties, so that Native business owners get just the information they need to quickly review opportunities. As always, Cherokee Nation is committed to maintaining high standards and a fair and competitive bidding process.
The initial phase of this program focuses on projects managed by the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation. However, we know it will be successful and plan to rapidly expand to other construction areas. That broadens the range of opportunities for TERO contractors and creates a more inclusive and thriving economy within the Cherokee Nation Reservation.
Cherokee Nation’s dedication to Gadugi, the principle of working together for the greater good, is exemplified in this initiative. By harnessing technology, we are carrying the precious values of our ancestors into the future. Through innovation and collaboration, paired with timeless values, Cherokee Nation is building a prosperous northeast Oklahoma.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
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