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Two Tribal Chairmen invited to LCO to share information on lending

By Joe Morey

News Editor

LCO Chairman Louis Taylor and LCO Financial Services Board Chairman Tweed Shuman, who also serves as an LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member, invited two Tribal Chairmen who operate successful lending entities to come to Lac Courte Oreilles to tour LCO Financial Services and share with our tribal leaders their own experiences with sovereignty in the industry.

Otoe-Missouria Tribal Chairman John Shotton and Lac Vieux Desert Tribal Chairman Jim Williams were guests of the Tribe to discuss some of the challenges and benefits Indian Country faces in operating successful sovereign lending entities.

In a Power Point presentation at the Sevenwinds Conference Center to the TGB, Rob Rosette, Attorney for the Tribe with their lending entity, explained what these new companies are and the benefits to each Tribe that operates them. He noted 100% of the profits generated by LCO FS benefits governmental purposes in many forms, including providing employment for Tribal Members, but also funds the Tribal Government, Which Is Responsible for: Tribal Housing; Social Services; Elder Wellness Services; Educational Programs; Health Services; Youth Programs; Public Safety; and Infrastructure.

“Surpassing gaming, tribal lending has been the most significant economic development opportunity that has been available to Tribes, in terms of both revenue and job creation,” Rosette noted.

Chairmen Shotton and Williams shared some history of the challenges facing Indian Country include lack of accountability on management; no entrepreneurship/pride of ownership; business decision-making not profit driven; current businesses; future business opportunities; proper vetting; professional analysis; no core values/unified purpose or vision; perception of political influence on business decision-making; and perception of micro-managing.

The Power Point shared factors any Tribe needs to consider in their lending entities which include not diminishing sovereignty by having the institution promote self-governance, hire professional executives and to provide a political and legal environment where investors feel secure.

A Harvard Study on Tribal Sovereignty stated as success factors for Tribes in business is to always maintain ownership similar to shareholders, and to separate the business entity from Tribal Government operation.

“The Harvard Study found businesses are 400 times more likely to succeed when separation of electoral politics from day-to-day management of business enterprises and commercial activities is performed,” Rosette shared with the TGB.

Of the visit with LCO, Chairman Shotton said he was hopeful that the questions he answered and the experiences he shared regarding his own Tribe are helpful to LCO, Tribal Council and business going forward.

“Nevertheless, I must say that I was very impressed with your current operations. Particularly, I was very impressed with your CEO, Scott Soli and his team, and the tremendous growth being experienced by your portfolios. Not many tribes have started their own portfolio from the ground up. Under your Board of Directors and Mr. Soli’s leadership, it appears that your Tribe is well on its way to even greater success,” Shotton stated.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe is located in a rural area of Oklahoma which has 37 other Tribes, so the casino industry is competitive. By starting their tribal lending operation 7 years ago it has helped their Tribe financially.

Chairman William of the Lac Vieux Desert Tribe of northern Michigan, which operates a very successful lending operation, commented on his visit as well.

“I enjoyed taking the tour of your call center and lending operations after the meeting. My perception is that you’re executive team really knows what they are doing and I hope your Tribe continues to support and embrace them. Mr. Soil really made a good impression on me. He seems extremely knowledgeable about the industry, and these are the type of executives that you want to maintain for the long term,” Williams stated.

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