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TGB Members Attend RES; Say Tribe Needs Separation of Business and Government

By Joe Morey News Editor

LCO Tribal Governing Board members Tweed Shuman and Jason Weaver attended the Reservation Economic Summit (RES) this week. They split up and attended as many of the different sessions to try to get the most out of the conference, and they attended sessions they thought were most pertinent to the tribe’s interests.

Both Shuman and Weaver attended a session entitled Overhauling Corporate Governance: Structuring the Separation of Business from Government. The session description stated, “Studies and headlines continue to tout the successes of tribal businesses that operate with a healthy separation from politics. Tribal businesses are inherently tied to politics because they are owned by tribal governments, yet tribal businesses need a level of autonomy to meet corporate goals and investment expectations.”

Shuman said he and Weaver both want a separation of tribal business and government.

“We want to have a separate business arm of the tribe to oversee all the tribal enterprises without political influence,” Shuman said. “it’s important to separate business from government and that it’s the only way to get the tribe off high-risk. Businesses will be managed properly.”

Weaver stated, “We have learned that Government managed business is not a way to be successful in Indian Country. Our business managers need support along with checks and balances to be profitable. We should follow the path of other successful Tribes and create a separate economic arm of the tribe managed by people with education and experience in business, accounting and marketing.”

Following the session, both council members met with a company that works strictly with tribes in strategic planning and setting priorities. Shuman said the TGB is scheduling a strategic planning meeting with a listing of priorities that will be presented to the membership using this company’s platform.

“We will brainstorm all of our ideas, then prioritize them and present to the membership for their opinion and comments,” Shuman explained. “Once we have a plan, and it could be a 5-year plan, we will focus on the top priorities with input by the membership.”

Weaver stated, “Sometimes we need to use outside experts to help us get past hurdles that we can’t overcome by ourselves.”

Opportunity Zones

Shuman attended a session entitled Taking Advantage of the Opportunity Zone Tax Incentives. The Opportunity Zone program, created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, offers exciting new options for investment in economically distressed communities. The session provided overview of the opportunity zone tax credit and outlined the requirements that must be met to take advantage of the tax credits.

The session description stated, “From the perspective of certain investors, one of the most significant pieces of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the creation of Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ). Investors sitting on unrealized capital gains can benefit from generous tax savings when they invest these gains in projects in a state-identified QOZ.”

“We are considering the current opportunity zone along the Hwy B and K intersection to take advantage of these tax incentives,” Shuman stated. “We’re looking at a new and improved travel plaza that would combine both C1 and C2 at the current C2 location. We don’t want to compete with ourselves. And another project we are looking at is to build a hotel and water park. Money is available for tribes to improve their economics and investors are looking to invest in these types of projects, so let’s take advantage of this.”

Renewable Energy

Secretary Weaver attended Renewable Energy Technologies and Review of Tribal Case Studies.

“We have a 3.5Mw hydro electric dam that is not making us the income that it has the potential to,” Weaver explained. “We can create our own electrical utilities and utilize our own energy and create jobs here on the Reservation. Not only selling power to our own customers but in time doing the maintenance and administration functions as well.”

Weaver added the tribe can work on developing community sized solar arrays to help reduce our carbon footprint and reduce cost to our customers.

“We have unique opportunities as a Tribe, and we need to take advantage of them. There will be some substantial cost, but we have found some opportunity to utilize the California Carbon Credit program to generate new income for the tribe and protect our forest at the same time,” noted Weaver.

Energy and Water

Weaver also attended Leadership in Energy and Water Infrastructure for Economic Development. The session description stated, “The economy of Indian Country continues to grow and with this growth comes many challenges for Tribes to provide supporting energy and water infrastructure. This panel will discuss steps to be implemented to access, develop and fund infrastructure that will support commercial growth on tribal lands.”

Weaver said, “This session talked about other successful tribes that have developed their own Tribal utilities and created telecom-Internet capabilities through grants and loans. These are all possibilities for our Reservation in our location.”

Marketing Businesses

Shuman attended a session entitled Marketing Your Tourism Destination: Promote with a Purpose. The session description stated, “Destination marketing promotes tourism-driven businesses within a location as one identifiable “destination,” branding. Join our panelist in a discussion of how they positioned their tourism businesses to meet the market’s demand. Increase your visitor numbers by paying attention to the consumer’s interests, being creative in your business approach, and utilizing social media marketing. Develop creative content that highlights your community, shares your story and creates a positive customer experience. Obtain a better understanding of how to make sure your website is attractive, easy to navigate, and fast-loading.”

“Now that we own the golf course, with our casinos, Kinnamon Museum, the Hideout and the Landing, we need to promote our locales,” Shuman said. “We need to market all of our attractions through our casino marketing team as we are now becoming a tourist destination.”

Shuman added, “We need to provide something of interest for every member of the family that comes here on vacation. If dad’s golfing and mom’s gaming, what do the kids do? That’s why we need a water park, carpet golf, and other entertainment ideas.”

Hotel and Waterpark

Weaver attended a meeting with a hotel development company that specializes in working with Tribal communities.

“They have helped create waterpark hotels and golf course club houses with the hotels that they build. We hope the contacts we made will benefit our Tribe as we move forward with the great ideas that the Membership has asked us to move forward with and investigate the feasibility of bringing them through to reality. Overall, I was impressed with how much other Tribal Nations are moving forward with economic development and investing in new opportunities,” Weaver stated.

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