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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

2011 EDIES Story 21 of 24: Meskwaki Inc. Takes Economic Diversification to the Next Level

Diversification of income streams is the premise behind the formation of Meskwaki Inc., a for-profit corporation created to help tribal members startup businesses, corporations leverage 8a partnerships, and other profit generating enterprises to create jobs. In 2011 the founding board convened, legally separated operations from tribal government and hired a headhunter to recruit a serial entrepreneur to the area. The position is expected to be filled early 2012.  Remind me – what are the EDIES

HOW WE DID IT:
Meskwaki Inc. is a product of about 5 years of planning for diversification of the Meskwaki Tribe’s business interests and is based on a nation building model for economic development.

HOW WE GOT THE IDEA:
Tribal leaders came to the conclusion that sustained economic and financial growth would require diversification.  Nation Building as a model was developed by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and provided an understanding of several key ingredients to successful economic development in Indian Country.

OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE:
Our greatest challenge has been to find the best means to ensure the well-being of the tribe, economically, while trying to maintain the survival of our unique culture and lifeways.

HOW WE OVERCAME IT:
We have attempted to meet or overcome the challenge by very thoughtful discussions and planning at summit meetings.  We have consulted with experts in the fields of business and economic development and created systems of governance to support this type of development.

ADVICE TO OTHERS:
In order to try and create a vision for the future, rely on the strength of your forefathers as examples of what is possible, with some blood, sweat, and tears.

WHAT IS NEXT:
Meskwaki Inc.’s Board of Directors will be hiring a CEO soon and, together, they will be formulating a growth and development plan that focuses on the creation of new, tribally-owned businesses, training & jobs, and capital investment in the local and regional economies.

For more information about the Meskwaki Tribe, to go their website at www.meskwaki.org and listen to their interview on Radio Z95.5 FM at 8:45 a.m. on Friday, February 17, 2012.

Pictured left to right: Bill Largent, President/CEO of Meskwaki Inc, and leadership team Yolanda Pushetonequa, Michael Sadler, and Larry Lasley.


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