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Bill Anoatubby - Advancing a Nation

Value Added: Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, discusses how the tribe’s business enterprises affect the Oklahoma economy.
Bill Anoatubby - Advancing a Nation

Bill Anoatubby - Advancing a Nation

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Chickasaw Nation

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Show 1648: Bill Anoatubby - Advancing a Nation
Air Date: November 27, 2016


Rob McClendon: Well, unemployment is less than 3 percent in Murray County where the Ada-based Chickasaw Nation is headquartered, thanks in great part to the 10,000-plus Chickasaw Nation employees who work in more than 60 different businesses, which is where I pick up my conversation with Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby.

Rob: I want to ask you about an economic study that was released by Oklahoma City University, and I want to look down here because I want to be sure and get these numbers right. But, it says the total impact of the nation is at $2.4 billion annually and that your business enterprises alone contribute $1.39 billion in annual revenue supporting more than 16,000 jobs both directly and indirectly here in the state. Does that number even surprise you, it’s so large?

Bill Anoatubby: I don’t know that I’m really surprised, but I am certainly happy. I think, you know, we want to be a positive influence, not only for our own people, but for those around us. Our goals, our mission is to enhance the quality of life of our people, but how do you do that without helping other people around you, enhancing their lives as well? It has to be more of a global perspective, you know? If you improve the economy, you’re gonna improve the economy for your people. If you build bridges, you’re building bridges that our people travel across, but also other people travel across. We’re part and parcel of this state. We’re part of the fabric of this state, and our people, they participate in commerce within the state, they attend public schools systems, they’re part of the community. And when you help them you’re helping others, and when helping others you’re helping them, so it’s sort of a two-way street. What’s good for us is good for our, would be for our, be good for our communities and vice versa.

Rob: I think that is a message that certainly parallels what you’re doing with Chickasaw Nation business enterprises: very entrepreneurial, very forward thinking and much broader than most people realize. If you will, just tell us a little bit about all the things that the nation does.

Anoatubby: Well, you know, we want to invest in businesses that will have a future, you know, and so you, you take a really close look at any business that you might want to enter into. We do feasibility studies; you assess the value based on what it is that we do as a Chickasaw Nation. And so, there, there’s certain things that are unique to Indian tribes, to the Chickasaw Nation. Gaming is one of those. And so we will do the best that we can with gaming; it will optimize the amount of revenues that we can obtain from gaming. And then we utilize the revenues that we have from whatever source, whatever business that we own, to reinvest. We reinvest in new business, we invest obviously in our own people, we invest in the tribal government and its growth, and, uh, we have a system and that system is intended to be success. And so some things we will do and some things we won’t do. Now we’re in retail, we have several retail facilities, convenience type facilities and c-stores as they’re called. And, we have, we have a chocolate factory, Bedre Fine Chocolates, and believe me, they are fine chocolates.

Rob: I’ve enjoyed ‘em many a time.

Anoatubby: People love them! And then we’re in banking. We own a bank in Oklahoma City. We have a company that is engaged in government contracting, and it’s been in business for many years now; it’s one of the No. 1 8(a) contractors in the country. And they have dealt with various departments of the government, uh, the Department of Defense, the FAA, and we could make a whole list of different agencies that we’ve dealt with.

Rob: And these are enterprises that not only are successful, but they’re successful in creating jobs as well, which is doubly important here in southeastern Oklahoma. Many times rural areas in the state lead in unemployment. What type of jobs are you providing to rural areas?

Anoatubby: The kinds of jobs are quality jobs, they’re good paying jobs. If people have the education, and they have the skills to do the work that we have available, then we’re, we want to employ them. We give, obviously our people, the Chickasaws, first preference at any job that we have. So if we have a doctor that’s Chickasaw, they will get first shot at that job, but obviously, we don’t have enough Chickasaw doctors to fill every position that we have, so other people are employed as well. An, we don’t begrudge that; I mean, we employ people, we, when they are employed whether they are Chickasaw or non-Chickasaw, they become part of the family. They’re part of our education, our employee base, and they’re treated the same, and we open our arms up. So while we do give preference, and I think that would occur just about anywhere, if you are working for one of the local cities, you’re probably living in that city, so that’s something that would be similar. But we have a lot of different kinds of jobs, and we’re consistently seeking the most qualified, the most skilled people to fill those jobs.