Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation, the government of the Cherokee people, announced that it will be investing $100 million to overhaul the largest health care system in the U.S. operated by a tribe.
The overhaul includes construction of a new 100-bed hospital and renovation or replacement of four other health centers in Oklahoma over the next 2-3 years.
The $53.1 million hospital project will replace the existing W.W. Hastings Hospital that serves tribe members in Tahlequah. The new hospital will additionally become an outpatient center.
These investments are fueled by Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC profits accrued in the Cherokee Nation general fund, which gets 35 percent of CNB profits as per the tribe’s law. Last year, this 35 percent worked out to $57 million.
CNB, whose biggest profits come from gaming and hospitality, generates revenues of $750 million each year. The general fund which gets 35 percent of the profits is supposed to be used for providing services such as education, housing and health care.
This $100 million project is the first major investment made by CNB towards the tribe’s infrastructure. CNB is paying for the development, and will then lease the facilities to the tribe.
Even the construction work is being done in-house by Cherokee Nation Construction Resources (CNCR), which is a CNB subsidiary. Cheryl Cohenour, executive general manager of CNCR, said that this project was much more meaningful because it was not just about job creation or profits adding to the general fund.
“For the first time, our work will directly affect citizens in ways the 35 percent dividend or job creation cannot. There is so much pride in knowing that as a Cherokee Nation, tribally owned business, we have something tangible to show our businesses’ commitment to making change for the Cherokee people,” added Cohenour.
Shawn Slaton, CEO of CNB, said it was a great opportunity to show why the casinos were there. He reiterated their commitment to creating jobs, growing businesses and providing funding for services utilized by the Cherokee people.
Cherokee Nation has 300,000 citizens and 8,000 employees. Their tribal businesses have diversified beyond gaming to include everything from government contracts to manufacturing and telecom companies. Cherokee Nation has a $1.5 billion economic impact on Oklahoma’s economy.