January 23, 2017

NCAIED launches first regional conference in November

The National Center for American Indian Economic Development will host a Reservation Economic Summit on Nov. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa, Okla.

CATOOSA, Okla. — Native-owned businesses and contracting opportunities will be on display next month as a national organization launches its first regional conference.

The National Center for American Indian Economic Development will be hosting its first regional Reservation Economic Summit, RES Oklahoma, Nov. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa.

“It’s a great honor as a Cherokee Nation citizen that our first regional event will be in the Cherokee Nation,” NCAIED Chief Executive Officer and President Gary Davis said. “We (NCAIED) have such a great relationship with the tribal leaders in Oklahoma.”

Since 1980, the organization has hosted an annual national RES event in Las Vegas, featuring speakers, panels, a trade fair and networking opportunities for Native American entrepreneurs, tribal economic and business development decision-makers, tribal leaders, government and corporate executives and buyers seeking Native American suppliers and contractors.

“At our last RES event, more than $1 billion in contracts were signed in one day,” said Margo Gray-Proctor, chairwoman of NCAIED’s board of directors. “That kind of impact is power. It also means opportunity and a chance to combat our social ills.”

Gray-Proctor, co-principal of Horizon Engineering in Tulsa, Okla., said the event will primarily focus on three areas: entrepreneurs, tribal enterprises and using the power of sovereignty to diversify business interests in Indian Country.

“I know many of our Oklahoma tribes are familiar with government contracting, but not all of them necessarily are,” Gray-Proctor said. “This is one way to help get exposed to that.”

Among the speakers scheduled for this year’s event are Lance Morgan, the president and CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc., former Osage Nation chief Jim Gray and David Hinson, the national director of the United States Minority Business Development Agency.

“Part of what we believe as an organization is that there is so much economic development in Indian Country that this can serve as a catalyst to further that discussion,” Davis said.

Davis said the Mesa, Ariz.-based center is looking at a second regional event for summer 2013, in part because of the demand for spots at the RES event at Mandalay Bay, but also in response to next month’s summit at Hard Rock.

“The trade show has already sold out,” he said. “Registration has been phenomenal. In many cases, I think people have been waiting for this (a regional conference) to happen.

In a way, this is simply taking what the RES event in Las Vegas – and what the folks who attend take away from it – means and bringing it to people who might not necessarily be able to travel that far. This very exciting opportunity to begin to grow this into regional events that will to live on in tribal land, give people the opportunity who can’t make it to Las Vegas to get a two-day taste of it.

It’s exciting for me. This is something that is long overdue for Indian Country and I’m just happy to be in a position to help provide that kind of event.”

The organization will also present its national awards during RES Oklahoma, including college scholarships, the Jay Silverheels awards, the First American Entrepreneurship awards, the First American Corporate Leadership award and recognition of the center’s 2012 “40 Under 40” list.

“Twelve of our ’40 Under 40’ recipients this year are from Oklahoma,” Gray-Proctor said. “It helps that there are so many tribes here, but it is impressive to see so many of our area young people listed among the best and brightest in Indian Country.”

For more information or to register, visit www.ncaied.org.