Tahlequah Daily Press

September 18, 2013

Tribe’s economic impact on state: $1.3B

LENZY KREHBIEL
Special Writer

CATOOSA — A new economic impact report from the Cherokee Nation shows that the country’s largest tribe and its business arm continue to be a major employer across northeastern Oklahoma.

According to the study, unveiled Tuesday afternoon at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Cherokee Nation and its business operations are responsible for about $1.3 billion in economic output across its 14-county jurisdiction in 2012, including $559 million in wages and benefits.

That figure represents a 20 percent increase from the last economic impact study the tribe commissioned for fiscal year 2010.

Officials attribute the growth to expansions in health care and gaming facilities.

The total economic impact is derived from looking at jobs directly created by the tribe, vendor purchases, vendor growth and spending as a result of those jobs in the Cherokee Nation and its business arm, Cherokee Nation Businesses, which reported record revenues of more than $715 million during 2012

“Cherokee Nation government and business operations continue to offer expanded economic opportunities in northeastern Oklahoma,” report author Russell Evans said. “The tribe’s operations are a critical source of economic strength for the region.”

With government offices, a casino and W.W. Hastings Hospital all in Tahlequah, Cherokee County accounts for 2,880 jobs directly created by Cherokee Nation and CNB. At 35.64 percent, Cherokee County accounts for more of Cherokee Nation and CNB’s 8,084 regular full- and part-time employees.

That number does not include the additional 1,160 contract workers employed by the tribe and CNB last year, putting the total direct employment figure at more than 9,100 people.

After adding in the more than 5,000 jobs indirectly created through third-party vendor contracts, the Cherokee Nation and CNB are in some way responsible for 14,188 jobs across northeastern Oklahoma.

“We put more than 9,000 people to work in Oklahoma every day,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “That’s 9,000 people with access to benefits, such as insurance, a 401k and health care.

“We use local vendors, so that’s another 5,000 jobs in Oklahoma. We’re putting 14,000 people to work every day and we’re not going anywhere. We’re simply like a corporate headquarters that is never leaving Oklahoma.”

Commissioned by Cherokee Nation, the report was produced by Evans and his research team at the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business. Evans also conducted the tribe’s previous economic impact study.

The report does not account for spillover economic activity between counties, such as Tahlequah-based vendor buying materials from a supplier in Stilwell in order to fulfill an order from Cherokee Nation or CNB.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

To read more about the Cherokee Nation’s economic impact, including a breakdown by county, visit www.tahlequahTDP.com/onlineexclusives.