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Chief Hoskin: Intergovernmental partnership will drive innovation and business

To grow the economy on the Cherokee Nation reservation, we need to be forward-thinking, collaborative, and willing to work across borders. As the largest tribe in the United States, we have unique opportunities to increase the wealth of our citizens. We also need the support of our neighbors, because we will all rise or fall together with the regional economy.

I am optimistic that we are on the rise, thanks in large part to the innovative collaboration between our tribe and our neighbors. Cherokee Nation is a founding partner of the Heartland Advanced Medical Manufacturing Regional Cluster (HAMMRC), a campaign to create and maintain quality healthcare jobs in northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. HAMMRC’s goal is to build a medical manufacturing cluster led by communities along the Highway 62 corridor.

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The coalition includes business development agencies in both states, eight cities, three counties, and the Cherokee Nation. The willingness of these diverse units to cooperate regionally gives us a great competitive advantage.

Originally developed by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Tahlequah Regional Development Agency, the plan focuses on manufacturing devices, components and equipment for the healthcare industry. We believe it will create careers for our citizens that are directly tied to other science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) endeavors that the Cherokee Nation leads.

HAMMRC continues to position the Cherokee Nation as an integral part of the region’s bright future. We can leverage the needs of the largest healthcare system in the Indian country, our human resource development programs and a range of economic development efforts to create even more prosperity for our people.

The long-term goal is to make the region one of the world’s leading production locations in the healthcare sector. That may sound very ambitious for rural Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Cherokee Nation brings quite a bit to the table, however. We already have four year medical school and a new outpatient center, as well as future plans for a new hospital and multiple production facilities for personal protective equipment (PPE).

We saw early in the Covid-19 crisis that PPE was far too difficult to come by. Battles over access to PSA have not only harmed the Cherokee Nation, but our friends and neighbors as well. We vowed to do better for our people. This partnership increases our resources and shortens the potential delivery time for vital health devices in the future, making us even better prepared in the event of another health crisis.

The benefits go well beyond improved access to devices. Healthcare jobs pay around $ 25 to $ 30 an hour. This partnership will create these great jobs in the heart of the Cherokee Nation – in places like Cherokee Counties and Adair Counties. As we continue to invest in STEAM careers, we know businesses are drawn to our well-trained workforce and an unmatched quality of life.

Our education and career services departments have demonstrated outstanding leadership in preparing Cherokees for workforce success. But to develop a sustainable economy, we can’t just teach people skills and hope that they’ll find a job. We need to directly recruit the kind of tech jobs in the healthcare industry that can transform the region.

Whether in healthcare, aerospace, gaming and hospitality, the film industry, public procurement, or any of the other companies we are involved in as a tribe, Cherokee Nation is known for being hardworking, creative Cherokees offers the platform to make their dreams come true. With this collaboration, we are now adding another solid line of business to our diverse business mix on the Cherokee Nation reservation. We look to the future in order to expand our economy for future generations.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the chief chief of the Cherokee Nation.

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Author: Chuck Hoskin Jr


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