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LCO Receives Deal of the Year Award for New $42 Million Dollar Health Center

By Joe Morey

LCO News Editor

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe was the recipient of one of several 17th Leadership Awards presented by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) at their 42nd Annual Conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, on May 1st.

The awards recognize achievements of tribal leaders, tribal executives, advocates, and financial transactions driving economic progress within Indian Country. LCO was honored with the Government Impact Deal of the Year for their groundbreaking financing of a new healthcare and outpatient clinic.

“This innovative initiative, facilitated by two Native American-owned banks and four Community Development Financial Institutions, including the Native American Bank, Bay Bank, Wisconsin Native Loan Fund, First American Capital Corps, Oweesta Corporation, and Illinois Facilities Fund, stands as a model of collaborative success,” NAFOA said in a release recognizing the Tribe.

“The new 64,421-square-foot facility in Hayward, WI, aims to address the pressing health needs of the Tribal community, offering a comprehensive range of services. LCO Tribal leadership underscores the significance of this endeavor in enhancing healthcare access, bolstering the local and Tribal economies, and promoting cultural alignment. This achievement highlights the transformative impact of collaboration among Native American financial institutions, setting a new standard in financial partnership and community development.”

LCO Secretary-Treasurer Bill Trepanier was on hand at the event to receive the award. He was accompanied by LCO Chief Financial Officer, Ernest Vargas.

“I’m humbled and honored to accept this award on behalf of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Our project, the Community Health Center, has been a beacon of innovation and resilience, reflecting not just the spirit of our community but the enduring strength of our people across Indian Country,” Trepanier said to the large crowd of hundreds of tribal leaders and financial officers gathered in the Seminole ball room.

Trepanier stated, “Our Community Health Center is more than a building; it's a promise—a promise to our elders and to our children that we will not falter in our commitment to their well-being and prosperity. It stands as a testament to what we can accomplish when we dream together, work together, and, more importantly, when we dare to imagine a future defined by health, dignity, and prosperity for all our people.”

The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) unanimously approved a maximum guaranteed price contract with Woodstone, Inc for construction of the new LCO Community Health Center to be built between the Sevenwinds Casino and CDC building on Hwy K back on April 28, 2023.

According to LCO Health Center Director Gary Girard, the current timeline has the project completed by March of 2025.

LCO TGB member Michelle Beaudin said the TGB thanks Girard and Glenn Hall, financial officer at the clinic, for all their hard work in getting the funding and ensuring that we utilized Native owned banks as much as we could.

“They went above and beyond in acquiring these loans and investors,” Beaudin said.

In a recent news article, Girard said regarding services that will be offered in the new much larger clinic, all services offered now will continue plus they will be able to reduce the backlog for patient care.

“We’ll have a third more capacity for patients,” Girard added. “Currently, we have 1.4 exam rooms per provider, but that will increase to three rooms so that we can have a patient being seen, another being prepped while the other room is being wiped down and cleaned. This will double our patient care, and it will be the same for our dental care too.”

Once they reduce the backlog and double patient care, new services will begin, according to Girard. He said they will double their reimbursement revenue in the first year and they’ll be opening some services up to the general public. With third party billing, he noted they would be able to hire additional providers.

“We’re going to add 12 to 17 more employees and that will include assistants for each provider, and registration person at each department,” Girard stated.

Speaking to the NAFOA conference, Trepanier recognized NAFOA and the Native American Bank for being the lead funding organization.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Desmond Bruguier and the Native American Bank for seeing the potential in our dream, and to the NAFOA Corporate Advisory Committee for recognizing the impact of our work. It’s endeavors like these that remind us what we can achieve when we come together, bridging our traditions with the possibilities of tomorrow.

“NAFOA has been a lighthouse for our communities, guiding us towards financial independence, advocating for policies that uplift our people, and championing the kind of education that ensures our youth can lead us forward. This award, while a profound honor, is also a call to action. It beckons us to not rest on our laurels but to press ahead with the urgency this moment in history demands.”

Trepanier added, “Let this award be a reminder of our shared journey, a journey marked not by the challenges we’ve faced, but by the challenges we’ve overcome. And as we look to the horizon, let’s commit to forging a path marked by unity, hope, and the unwavering belief that, together, there is no summit we cannot reach.

“To everyone who has made this project a reality, know that your work has lit a fire that will illuminate the way for generations to come. And to NAFOA, thank you for this incredible honor and for your enduring partnership. Together, we will continue to build a legacy that our children, and their children, can look back on with pride.”

NAFOA was founded over 40 years ago as the Native American Finance Officers Association to highlight the role of tribal finance in fostering economic opportunities. Over the last four decades, NAFOA has grown along with tribes to be advocates of sound economic and fiscal policy and developers of innovative training programs in financial management to build the skills of the next generation. Semiannually, NAFOA convenes tribal leadership, experienced professionals, and economic partners to meet the challenges of economic growth and change. To learn more about NAFOA, visit the website


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The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe operates and achieves many great achievements, and achieving the Leadership Award is completely worthy of the club's efforts. geometry dash subzero

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