Cherokee Nation touts $3 billion economic impact

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,346 views 

The Tahlequah, Okla.-based Cherokee Nation on Monday (April 17) said the tribal nation provided a more than $3.04 billion economic impact on the Oklahoma economy in 2021. The report was produced by the Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University.

Impact comes from Cherokee Nation spending in northeast Oklahoma on education, health care, infrastructure, gaming and other investments and businesses.

“Today, we gather to recognize the tremendous economic impact that Cherokee Nation has on northeast Oklahoma. From job creation to infrastructure development, Cherokee Nation plays a vital role in driving the region’s economic growth and prosperity,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. “The economic impact of Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma cannot be overstated. Through our businesses, educational offerings, health care expansion and community partnerships, we continue to enrich the Oklahoma economy and enhance the quality of life of our citizens, as well as our friends and neighbors.”

The report was developed by Dr. Russell Evans, principal of the Economic Impact Group and executive director of Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University, and measures employment, labor income, and local production of goods and services.

The report also adds that Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 relief funding generated an additional $2.07 billion economic impact in Oklahoma. To date, the tribe has used $826.9 million of its federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide direct assistance payments to Cherokee citizens affected by the pandemic, including $552 million made directly to Cherokee citizens residing in Oklahoma.

“The significant economic influence of the tribe was supplemented by the nearly $1.5 billion in pandemic relief funds allocated in the state, with more than half of those funds providing direct assistance to Cherokee citizens and payroll to employees,” Evans said in the report.

The study shows Cherokee Nation either directly or indirectly supports more than 18,900 jobs and $975 million in wages throughout northeast Oklahoma. The tribe’s direct economic footprint includes more than $1.96 billion in purchases, operations and activities. During 2021, the fiscal year studied by the economists, the tribe built or repaired nearly 91 miles of road, installed 17.1 miles of water lines and completed 672 water improvement projects. Cherokee Nation also delivered more than 146,000 meals to elders, provided 3,155 low-income households with heating and energy assistance, provided $19.6 million in scholarships to students, and provided $7.4 million in contributions of car tag revenues to public schools across northeast Oklahoma.

In Sequoyah County, a county in the Fort Smith metro, Cherokee Nation spending had an impact of $138.52 million, creating 895 direct jobs and supporting 1,404 total jobs.

“As our businesses continue to grow and succeed, so does our ability to further support the tribe and remain a positive community partner for our local communities and state,” said Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “Cherokee Nation and CNB have long remained a great community partner, and we are here to stay. I can assure you we will continue doing our part in creating substantial economic growth and jobs, while expanding opportunities and helping make northeast Oklahoma a great place to call home.”

The Nation also announced Monday a partnership with the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business and accelerator firm Stichcrew that will offer a Native American Women Entrepreneur Accelerator to Cherokee women this fall.