|Ho-Chunk, Inc.: Press release
Return To Press Area Contents03.21.11
Ho-Chunk, Inc. COO Participates In Industry Leader Roundtable
Ho-Chunk, Inc. Chief Operating Officer Annette Hamilton recently participated in a roundtable discussion with other business leaders sponsored by the Innovation Group, a national management and consulting firm to the gaming and hospitality industries. Steve Rittvo, Chairman of the Innovation Group led the discussion. The highlights of the roundtable are to be published in a forthcoming issue of Global Gaming Business Magazine which will be distributed at NIGA, the National Indian Gaming Association’s annual conference and trade show.
The roundtable was conducted with some of the most prominent business leaders in Indian Country. Besides Hamilton, participants included Kip Ritchie, Chief Operating Officer of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, Eric Trevan, President/CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Dr. Gavin Clarkson, Associate Professor of the University of Houston Law Center and Bill Lomax, President, Native America Finance Officers Association.
While gaming has been a significant economic contributor to tribes around the United States, economic diversification has been an emerging “hot button” issue for some time. While diversification is now a focus for many, there is a distinct group of tribes and supporting organizations that have been the most successful at creating economic and job opportunities in non-gaming industries. The goal of the roundtable was to learn more about the economic diversification trends, strategies and successes in everything from government contracting to green energy.
Part of the discussion also focused on the current controversy surrounding the Native 8(a) program, particularly how tribes are coping with the issue. “Historically, Tribes have performed well with respect to government contracting, and we understand the importance of working with the government, side by side, to try to provide the best value to all parties while still maintaining compliance with regulations. There are occasionally challenges, of course, but entities such as Ho-Chunk, Inc. recognize that it is to everyone’s benefit to strengthen to program as a whole and encourage the impact created on the reservations. Tribes are adapting to the process, and Ho-Chunk, Inc. in particular is doing its part to participate,” stated Hamilton.
On the subject of tribal economic diversification, Hamilton commented “...tribal corporations are diversifying significantly, with deal flows focusing on a broader base of businesses. Ho-Chunk, Inc. for example has been on the forefront of this, with 19 different subsidiaries currently in place, including entities specific to renewable energy, various government contracting entities, convenience stores, and marketing, distribution, logistics companies as well. The SBA monitors and regulates the level of diversity, and Ho-Chunk, Inc. has achieved this by evaluating channels of businesses vertically and also horizontally.”
In regard to the recent SBA revisions to the 8(a) program regulations, Hamilton commented that growth opportunities for tribes do exist in joint ventures, teaming and partnership opportunities. “... but the fact remains that some tribes are left out of the government process and still need other means to sponsor growth. Partnerships - particularly those with other tribes - are some of the most important resources helping such entities compete and grow. It takes years to build up the infrastructure and to achieve true “diversification”, and organizations need a foundation during that phase so that they can win the competitive contracts and look at public private partnerships too. The new regulations encourage more success with JV’s, teaming and partners for this reason, and it is great to see more tribes helping those just getting underway. Ultimately, I believe this will add strength to the 8(a) program” Hamilton concluded.
And on renewable energy which is an important issue to Native Americans generally, Hamilton affirmed its importance to Ho-Chunk, Inc. “Renewable energy is important ...both from the perspective of creating economic opportunities for our people and for the well-being of the broader community. There is a lot of talk on renewable energy, but the truth is the technology level has yet to settle in. Tribes are inherently at the forefront on this issue, though, because of their commitment to preserving the environment. At Ho-Chunk Inc. we are working diligently to determine which renewable energy opportunities are best suited for us as well as for those in our communities. We have invested socially on our own reservation so that we are keeping pace with technologies, albeit for now on a smaller scale. If and when it is time for a larger investment, we will be ready”.
Hamilton, as well as other Ho-Chunk, Inc. executive management has been active for some time on the national scene working with other organizations, mentoring and networking with other tribes to develop stronger opportunities in both commercial and governmental markets. Additionally they have been in discussions with legislators and other government officials to provide valuable insight on tribal economic development, the opportunities and challenges that exist in the SBA 8(a) program and other government programs and policies.
Hamilton joined Ho-Chunk, Inc. in 2001 as Chief Financial Officer. She was promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Vice President in 2004. She holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from Washburn University and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.