TULSA, Okla. — Cherokee Nation injected nearly $2.2 billion into the Oklahoma economy last year. New research shows the tribe and its businesses continue to expand their economic footprint through employment, labor income, production of goods and services, and more.
An economic impact report by Dr. Russell Evans, principal at the Economic Impact Group and associate professor of economics at Oklahoma City University, shows the Cherokee Nation remains one of the state’s biggest economic drivers. Tribal officials announced the tribe’s impact today during a forum luncheon with several state, county and local officials in attendance.
“A vibrant and strong Cherokee Nation is essential for northeast Oklahoma’s long-term success. As our businesses grow more prosperous and create more jobs, our role in the state’s economy expands as well,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Our profits and the dollars we generate go directly to our people. We’re now helping more Cherokees improve their lives, as well as the lives of their children and their grandchildren.”
The research study shows the tribe’s activities directly and indirectly support more than 19,000 jobs and generate $837 million in regional income. Focused solely on Cherokee Nation’s economic activity within the tribe’s 14 counties, the report doesn’t include the nearly 1,977 contract workers, who work throughout the U.S. and even globally.
One of the largest employers in northeast Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation provides an array of government services, spurs economic development and provides financial support throughout the region. The tribe’s annual operations support local production of goods and service and create new demand for construction services, manufactured products, professional and business services, health services and more.
“Cherokee Nation continually provides an impressive and important stream of economic opportunities to northeastern Oklahoma,” Evans said. “As economic conditions ebb and flow across the state, the tribe remains a steadying force through its consistent support in areas of the state where those opportunities are often needed the most.”
Last year, in addition to building homes for Cherokee citizens, installing storm shelters at local Head Start properties, and continuing its efforts to restore historic Cherokee sites, Cherokee Nation also completed construction on the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, began a 65,000-square-foot expansion at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and placed the final beam on the largest tribal health center in the country. Each project created a new, positive influence on the local economy and brought an even larger total economic impact for each of the counties and for the state.
The tribal government invests more than $6 million per year into its language department, Cherokee Immersion Charter School, Master Apprentice Program, and Cherokee Voices, Cherokee Sounds Radio Show. It also provides thousands in higher education scholarships, gives more than $5.7 million annually to Oklahoma public schools, and supports early childhood programs, such as Head Start.
Cherokee Nation works alongside county, state and local governments to improve roads and bridges, ensure communities have good, clean running water, improve access to health care, and provide much-needed educational funding. It also serves more than 60,000 houses with USDA food assistance and 3,671 households with low-income heating and energy assistance.
Through its Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act of 2019, the tribe and its businesses plan to invest $30 million in housing and community building rehabilitation projects over the next three years. Under the act, 75% of the funding, provided by a special dividend issued by Cherokee Nation Businesses, will help tribal citizens with housing repairs, and the remaining 25% will help upgrade and improve Cherokee community buildings. It will also create a wide array of construction-related jobs and provide a boost to the economy throughout the region.
In 2018, the tribe donated more than $568,000 in special project funds and provided a major boost to local governments, schools, nonprofits, community organizations, churches and other organizations that make positive impacts within local communities. Cherokee Nation Community & Cultural Outreach awarded more than $274,000 in grant funding to Cherokee community organizations throughout the tribe’s 14-county area.
“The tribe’s investment in education, health care, housing and infrastructure is making positive and far-reaching changes,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner. “Cherokee Nation’s sizable and consistent contribution to the state’s economy has simply continued to grow year after year. That is something all Cherokees, as well as all our friends and neighbors, can be proud of.”
Cherokee Nation’s economic development engine, CNB, reported record revenues of $1.1 billion and more than $134 million in profits during fiscal year 2018. Along with supporting critical government services such as education, health care and housing, the Cherokee Nation also reinvests its business profits into creating more Oklahoma jobs and further diversifying its non-gaming businesses.
The report was commissioned by the Cherokee Nation and produced by Evans. He and his research team at Economic Impact Group carefully collected, reviewed and presented data regarding Cherokee Nation’s impact on the state of Oklahoma.
Similar research studies have been conducted every two years since 2010. Reports from 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 illustrate Cherokee Nation’s growth at $1 billion, $1.3 billion, $1.55 billion and $2.03 billion, respectively.
For more information about Cherokee Nation’s economic impact, please visit www.cherokeenationimpact.com.