|Ho-Chunk, Inc.: Press release
Return To Press Area Contents03.30.11
Ho-Chunk, Inc. CEO To Testify Before Congress
Winnebago, Nebraska. – Ho-Chunk, Inc. CEO Lance Morgan will testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. on April 7th at 2:15 p.m. The webcast testimony will be available at http://indian.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?hearingID=5121. The topic of the hearing is “Promise Fulfilled: The Role of the SBA 8(a) Program in Enhancing Economic Development in Indian Country”. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is the economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Certain Ho-Chunk subsidiary companies are certified as SBA 8(a) small disadvantaged businesses and perform work for federal government agencies.
The Small Business Administration Native 8(a) Program has been under attack the last several months in particular by Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo and Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-MS, alleging possible misconduct by a few Alaska Native Corporations in their execution of government contracts within the 8(a) Program. The Native 8(a) program provides special benefits to Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations (ANC) and Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHO) that are not available to other disadvantaged small businesses. That is due in part to the fact that Native 8(a) businesses are owned by an entire tribe or village and therefore have to support a significant number of constituents. While regular 8(a) small businesses only have one owner or a limited partnership that supports a small number of constituents.
The Native 8(a) program was established over 30 years ago primarily to benefit Alaska Native Corporations in return for their surrender of millions of acres of oil-rich land in Alaska to the federal government. The program was later expanded to include federally recognized Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for Native businesses to compete on a more level playing field for government contracts. The business still has to prove capability and provide a cost-effective benefit to the government, but the 8(a) program helps these small businesses compete effectively against larger multi-national corporations for contract work.
Charges have been leveled by Senator McCaskill and Congressman Thompson that the Native 8(a) program has not really benefited the shareholders of these Native companies and so the Alaska Native Corporations specifically should be eliminated from the Native 8(a) program. This elimination would be a direct violation of another government treaty that promised economic development opportunity in return for millions of acres of land. In fact both Senator McCaskill and Congressman Thompson have introduced legislation to eliminate the ANC’s from the Native 8(a) program.
Just last week, McCaskill attempted to reintroduce this legislation as an amendment to an unrelated Small Business Administration appropriations bill. McCasklll has been in the news lately with her own problems. McCaskill admitted that she had charged taxpayers for almost $90,000 for trips she took around the state in her husband’s private plane, including at least one political trip for which an ethics complaint has been filed with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics; and then following that disclosure, it was revealed that she failed to pay almost $300,000 of property taxes over a four-year period on that same plane.
In reality, this is all about money. Revenue generated by the Alaska Native Corporations working in the Senators’ home states that are not going to Missouri or Mississippi businesses. And other Native enterprises representing Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiians are concerned that the elimination of the ANC’s from the program is just the start of an effort to dismantle the Native 8(a) program and prevent Tribes and Native Hawaiians from effectively competing for government contracts.
The hearing on April 7th is an opportunity for Native 8(a) contractors including those operated by Ho-Chunk, Inc. to tell the other side of the story. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is fulfilling the intent of the Native 8(a) program and Morgan’s testimony will provide specific evidence to the Committee on the economic and community development initiatives that Ho-Chunk, Inc. has funded since its inception in 1994.
Morgan is president of the Native American Contractors Association and will be testifying on their behalf as well as Ho-Chunk, Inc. Besides Morgan’s role as Ho-Chunk, Inc. CEO, he is also a practicing attorney representing Native American Tribes and organizations throughout the United States. He has served as a consultant to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for economic policy and development in Indian Country; Consumer Advisory Board Member for the Federal Reserve; adjunct professor at several universities and a Board member for several Native American corporations throughout the United States.
Under Morgan’s leadership, Ho-Chunk, Inc. has been recognized by a variety of national organizations including: 2001 Innovations in Government Award, sponsored by Harvard University and the Ford Foundation; 2000 Honoring Nations Award, sponsored by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, recognizing excellence in tribal governments; 1999 Effective Economic Development Practices, awarded by the National Congress of American Indians; 2002 Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Entrepreneur Award; 2002 Minority Business Magazine, Entrepreneurial Spirit Award; 2003 Distinguished Alumni Speaker, Harvard Law School and most recently Small Business Administration Regional Minority Business Person of the Year for 2010.