Tribal member and OK State Senator Smalley protects rail funding in southeast Oklahoma
July 6, 2015
Legislative Session: 5-28-2015
July 7, 2015

Guest column: Local Tribe greatly benefits our communities

As a legislator, I always appreciate those in our communities who work together to make our local areas a better place to live, work and play. Oftentimes, these community partners go about their business without seeking much acclaim when much is due to them. Today I want to briefly show my appreciation for one of these community partners whose impact has far too often been overlooked and even criticized.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation is the ninth-largest Native American tribe in the country. Though its headquarters are in Shawnee, which is barely outside my district, its community investment creates jobs throughout central Oklahoma, especially in southern Pottawatomie County. Employing more than 2,200
people, Citizen Potawatomi Nation has a demonstrated economic impact of more than $550 million annually.

Numbers don’t begin to tell the story of what Citizen Potawatomi Nation does in our communities. CPN has invested millions in operating and expanding a rural water district that was going bankrupt, helping provide a lifeline to rural customers and small municipalities that otherwise would have suddenly been without a fundamental public service. Most recently, they have agreed to operate Pottawatomie County’s fundingchallenged 911 call center. The Tribe
will not only assume all costs for the county, but also the small towns in its service area, saving those entities $250,000 a year and providing a lifeline for residents. This speaks volumes for me as a legislator who has worked hard for years to try and provide quality emergency services for the rural communities which I serve.

CPN invests in Oklahoma’s economy the right way, expanding their business enterprises far beyond just gaming. They own the largest Tribally-owned bank in the United States, with branches in Holdenville, Lawton, Mangum, Granite and Shawnee. They operate grocery stores in small towns like Tecumseh,
with another on the way in McLoud, that otherwise would have limited options for fresh food.

Most importantly, CPN uses the profits from their businesses to create more local jobs and invest in our communities. In the last year alone, they paid more than $25.6 million in taxes and payments in lieu of taxes to state and local governments. After they share with their community partners, CPN then takes the rest of their hard earned money and does exactly what we seek to do in the State Legislature: invest in education, health care, housing, roads and infrastructure for Oklahoma citizens.

I’m very proud to have the largest amount of Tribal members and employees of any area in the Nation in my legislative district. I’m honored to serve individuals like Chairman John A. “Rocky” Barrett, Vice-Chairman Linda Capps and many more who work hard to provide quality services and way of life to our communities.

I’m proud to stand with Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Please never hesitate to give me your thoughts, concerns, and opinions. I value hearing from each person which enables me to represent my district to the best of my ability. It matters not if you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent; I am here to serve you. If you would like to receive my weekly legislative
updates, or if I can serve you in any way, please email me at: Josh. Cockroft@OkHouse.gov. If you need to get in touch with my office for any reason,  please call: (405) 557-7349.