The Osage News asked the Osage 2012 candidates if they felt like creating jobs for Osages is an important part of being a legislator. This is the first in a series of questions that will be emailed to all candidates before Election Day as a part of our Osage News Weekly Roundup series.
We allowed candidates up to 300 words to answer. Their answers were published in the order they were received. Candidates are not required to participate in the series.
The second Weekly Roundup question and answers will be published Thursday (May17).
Joseph Roger Lynn Jr.
Thanks for the question!
As part of a long term vision of a self sustaining, self sufficient Osage Nation, I want our Tribe to have a greater focus on generating revenue through business. Specifically through a Department of Commerce and Trade. this department will research, develop, and establish for-profit businesses here on the Osage. My intention also is that this department or a subset of it would also act as both a recruiting tool and employment agency for these Tribal businesses.
It isn't enough just to create jobs, we need positions that will be challenging and require a greater effort while offering a commensurate reward for this effort to our people.
Being able to set this process in motion will require vision from both our Congress and Executive, which is something I believe has been lacking in both. It has been this lack of vision that's prompted me to run for Osage Congress.
Joseph (Jody) R. Lynn Jr.
In order to create jobs for our people, we need to build a Casino/Resort Hotel with golf access in the Heart of Osage County. It needs to be located on a beautiful parcel of restricted property as close as possible to Hominy, Gray Horse/Fairfax and Pawhuska. This will provide a major employer for Osage county and create a new revenue stream for our Nation for years to come. The 185 acres of restricted land we own 4 miles South of Pawhuska on Highway 99 would be the ideal site for the Casino/Resort Hotel. There is a beautiful old golf course in Pawhuska located about 5 miles away sitting vacant and unused. It could be purchased, or leased and remodeled to provide recreation for our guests. This is exactly what the Quapaw tribe did when they built the Downstream Casino. It provides over 200 jobs for their community and has revived the local economy. This business anchor would create permanent, good paying jobs for our people.
Establishing on Osage Credit Union would not only create jobs, it would provide a vehicle for making the small business loans and investing our reserves. We need to create small business loans for Osage County to encourage our people to create ventures like auto repair shops, car washes, or dry cleaners. These are the types of individual business ventures would directly benefit from building a Casino/Resort Hotel in Osage County.
More Osage live in this area than anywhere else on earth. We cannot sit back and watch the infrastructure crumble and our people suffer with high unemployment and poverty. If we do not invest in the Heart of the Osage things will not change. It is time to make this bold step and make the lives of our people better.
Yes I feel that creating jobs for Osages is an important part of being a legislator. Creating jobs for Osages is a function of economic development. If I am elected I would support the creation of a Commerce and Economic Development Department. There are many different avenues of economic development the Nation could support such as entrepreneurship, small business development, retail business development, and larger business enterprises. Successful economic development and job creation requires a full time effort to develop and determine the needs of existing businesses, available labor markets, training for labor markets, incentives for business opportunities and the resources available to support the attraction of businesses. It is a well-known fact in the economic development world that 75% of jobs creation and business expansion comes from existing businesses.
However, with the $40 million cap on the Nation’s budget for the next 5 years, it will take a consensus of Congress and the Executive branch to determine that the creation of the Commerce and Economic Development Department is a top priority. There are some hard decisions to be made to stay within the budget cap. All of the Nation’s programs and services will need to be prioritized and budgeted. My platform is the creation of a 5 year National Plan developed from a summit of all the branches and departments which will help to bring about a consensus of priorities and programs for the next 5 years.
There are already some mechanisms in place that would encourage the development of Osage businesses and jobs for Osages. ONCA11-131 sponsored by Congressman Shackelford and enacted provides for a $25,000 matching grant for an individual entrepreneur or business entity.
A new opportunity for Osages is the Pawhuska Business Development Center, a business incubator and training center which will open next month in Pawhuska. The incubator has bays for light manufacturing as well as office space for new and startup businesses. The Incubator provides staff support and technical assistance to help clients become successful businesses. Tri County Tech will operate and manage the Center and provide skill training and specialized training for local businesses. Tri County will also provide distance learning classes for higher education.
Rose Mary Shaw
I believe one of the responsibilities of the Osage Congress is to always take actions for the welfare of the people. Unemployment and Under-Employed are high here on the reservation. The government has expanded and provided new positions, but that does not solve the problem. The only jobs should not be for the government or the casino. We need to energize the people who really want to work but do not have the training. Technology would be a good place to start. There is always a need for Technology Information and Equipment service. This training would need to be overseen by a person who is passionate for the people and could advocate for them in the field. Manufacturing of some type would bring more jobs because of the need, but Osage County does not have the infrastructure to support a large plant and their employees. The Education Committee could brain storm this problem and come up with a solution. We could start an Electric Installation Company and hire students supported by the Education Department to train. There is always a need for Electricians and they are high paying jobs. Start a Plumbing Company and hire the students as trainees. There are different kinds of legislation that could be introduced to fulfill this need. Investment in our people should be one priority of a strategic plan for the next two sessions. I am aware of obstacles for this kind of progressive thinking.
The new Congress should focus on the needs of the people. There should be criteria for each bill introduced which would include how it would benefit the people, the estimated cost with budget, and from where the money would come, and can we adjust the budget for the next year to include this program in the Education Depart.
The most important part of our job is to listen to what the constituents want from their government. We need to protect the reserve funds we have, provide continued services, and invest for the future. When Congress talks about economic development; it is understood that will include jobs for Osages. The LLC needs to be restructured so there is leadership that is loyal to the Osage Nation and not to a particular administration. The LLC needs to bring in investments that contribute to jobs for Osages.
The flip side to that is that we need Osages who have training and education so they are hirable in 2012 and beyond. Our present employees are encouraged by the Executive through HR to become more educated because degreed personnel receive higher pay. People not on the hill would be surprised to learn how many Osage Nation workers eagerly started taking college courses. This was done to enhance our personnel, assist with promotions, and pay raises and a more educated Osage Nation workforce. It was a win-win situation. The kicker is that Congress passed a bill over Chief’s veto, to not allow employees to receive any financial educational assistance from the Osage Nation Education Department. So if we create jobs, we can’t promote from within since the Congress stifled the Osage Nation employee from bettering themselves. We can create all the jobs we want, but will we be able to hire our own people if they don’t have the training or education?
Speaking to the responsibility of the Congress; the Congress has the power to appropriate funds for the creation of a revenue streaming company that will both create jobs and generate revenue. Such legislation was enacted and resulted in the Osage LLC. An appropriation of $3 million dollars as start up funds for the LLC was appropriated for the purpose of creating jobs for the Osage people.
Our government’s situation today is that we are generating less revenue than we are appropriating. For our government to assume the responsibility of creating jobs for the mere sake of putting people to work and paying salaries out of our current revenue source (gaming), would soon bankrupt the Osage Nation government. Therefore, the ultimate goal should be to secure a business with a history of successful profit margins, employ Osages to work for the business and draw their salaries from the profit of that company.
The purpose of a democratic government is to control and exercise control over political decision making, to make and enforce laws and arbitrate conflicts. As a congress person I will be making laws and appropriating funds. As an individual Osage, I will promote job creation and revenue source diversification. My first action will be assistance with the reinstatement of a grocery store in the Fairfax area using the “Community Challenge Matching Grant” made available by this government.
Though we are in the business of building a nation; the nation builders in reality are the people who are represented by the government. This is an opportunity for all Osages to spread their wings and involve themselves in efforts to see us through to a successful nation. Recall it was the industrial revolution that made the U.S. what it is today (individuals with grit and ideas).
Yes. I would put in place an incentive program for big businesses to
come to osage county. That would more than likely involve trust land
and tax breaks. The reason Oklahoma's unemployment is high is because
of the way oklahoma's tax system is set up. I would give businesses
the opportunity to make a profit in osage county.
Opinion by Roscoe Mays
Olivia “Libbi” Gray
I believe creating jobs takes cooperation of the executive and legislative branches. While the LLC has been charged with some job creation for the Nation that entity is located within the executive branch, as is gaming which has provided many jobs for our people, it has had little success in creating a good number of jobs for Osages. In these two cases the legislative branch should be creating business friendly laws that bring industry to the Osage reservation and entice outside industry to work with the Nation that would in turn create much needed jobs for our people.
To do my part, if elected, I would create and present legislation to the congress that would create a Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) which would require those doing business with the Nation to provide jobs for our people. Our tribe spends millions of dollars each year in contracts between the tribe itself and its independent business entities. Should my version of a TERO be passed it would require the setup of a TERO office and a creation of a job skills data bank. It would also require those companies that are certified through our TERO office and doing work on the reservation to hire a percentage of their workforce to be Osage citizens. These TERO certified companies would have access to our job skills databank to aid them in finding qualified Osages to fill positions to meet that quota. It would also require our partners (like Osage Manhattan) to do the same.
I do not feel like creating jobs for Osages is as important as making sure that the current jobs are filled with qualified Osages. If there are no qualified Osage applicants, then the job should be filled by a person qualified to perform the duties and carry out the responsibilities of the position. Budgets play a major role in this process.
The Osage Nation needs to create industry and establish businesses to support and sustain the current programs and possibly develop new programs as needed. New business and industry would likely create new jobs, but the focus should be on economic development and not just on creating new jobs.
Now, with that said, the Osage Nation should also be encouraging and assisting Osages with obtaining the skills to make them qualified to hold positions within the Nation. So, our focus also needs to be on education at all levels and instilling pride in our people so that they will want to work for our great Osage Nation.
My belief is that the Osage Congress has many important roles. The mission statement of Congress clearly states that it's role is to promote the health, education, and well being of all Osages, to be an oversight board for "checks and balances" between the government branches, to preserve and protect the environment, and to "encourage and support the raising of tribal revenues". This is where job creation fits in. I feel that Congress alone is not independently responsible to create jobs, HOWEVER, there are certainly things that can be done by Congress that would have a positive impact on Osage businesses and therefore create new jobs. Some things already in place are a good start (like Osage preference in hiring and bidding jobs), but there is definitely room for improvement. As a Congressman, I would be open to hearing from Osage business owners about their needs, (or roadblocks) in creating new jobs. My belief is that as a Nation, we need to be consistently hiring the brightest and most capable person for EVERY open job, in EVERY department. After they are hired, we need to treat them right (with regards to compensation, benefits, etc.). This will ensure that we have a solid foundation of competent, hard working, loyal employees. Finally, we need to be open to their ideas and input. After all, this is our FRONT LINE of employees. They have working knowledge of the day to day needs of the Nation. If we create jobs based on the NEED for them, they will not only be jobs with longevity, but they will likely be a pathway for continued growth. I feel that it would be better to take small, yet responsible steps forward, than to jump in over our heads in attempt to create "X" number of new jobs. I would like to see the Osage Nation be the "workplace of choice" in Osage County. I think it would be great if we get to a point where our kids graduate from college, and WANT to return to work in the Osage Nation.
As a candidate and hopefully a Congresswoman, it is evident that job creation in the Osage is extremely important for our local communities and vital for the Osage Nation. As legislators, one of the primary functions is to appropriate the revenue the Nation generates; it is Congress' job to concern themselves with sound economic development practices.
I believe the Commerce and Economic Development Committee should be examining the structure and business practices of the Osage LLC and asking the question, "Is this the best business model for the Osage people?". We should be concerned that the business strategy employed by the current LLC at the present time does not focus on creating "local" companies and "local" jobs. Gauging from their acquisitions, they purchase existing companies states away rather than investing in existing or start up companies here in the Osage that are compatible with our local people and resources.
We should create local companies, creating local jobs with Osage preference in hiring. Our local companies should have well thought out business plans that will create a profit for the Nation. As Osages, we should be tired of the "middle man" model of conducting business. We should employ consulting companies to train, educate, help implement business, and then turn our Osage people loose to continue the company's growth. Our success depends on us.
As a legislator, we are responsible for planning and writing excellent legislation with all the guidelines, requirements, expectations and outcomes included in our resolutions or bills. Our work should be complete upon passage of the legislation, on the front end, so we do have to be accused of "micro-managing" on the back end. A sound piece of legislation makes a legislator...if elected, this is how I will conduct business.
I feel job creation for Osages should be a top priority for the Nation’s Legislators along with diversifying our business base, increasing revenue and reducing spending. One cost effective way of creating jobs for Osages is for the Nation to continue to pursue federally funded Grants and Contracts through our grants management office, but only if they fill a need within the Osage community. Federal Grants and Contracts do not guarantee jobs for Osages but they do provide the opportunity for qualified Osage people to apply for positions created by the funding. One drawback to federal funding is that it is for a fixed time period therefore jobs created will also be for a fixed time period and not permanent unless the program is continued with tribal funding, which may not be feasible or practical. Another way to create jobs is for Congress and the Executive Branch to work with our Gaming Enterprise Board and LLC Board to encourage growth within these two business arms. Growth should create additional positions within these organizations and qualified Osage must be given preference in hiring. Education plays an important role in job creation. We must continue to fund the Nations scholarship program in order to ensure our Osage members receive a quality education. We must encourage higher education starting at an early age. An educated Osage will have increased opportunity for success in whatever career they pursue. If elected I will work with my fellow congressional members and the executive branch to explore all opportunities for increasing job opportunities for our Osage people.