In January, several leaders from the Air Force Sustainment Center visited Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Eagle Aviary and toured the grounds of Iron Horse Industrial Park, a 700-acre plot of Native American trust land designed for manufacturing, storage and transportation of industrial goods with the added benefit of certification as a foreign trade zone.
CPN Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett and Vice-Chairman Linda Capps welcomed Air Force Sustainment Center staff, including Executive Director Dennis D’Angelo, Engineering and Technical Management Deputy Director Colonel Jeremey Thomas, Personnel Director Amy Noble and Office of Public Affairs Community Engagement Manager Angela Startz.
“I think the biggest takeaway today is that the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are both very interested in opening up some avenues of communication so that we might be able to go back and work on some things that would be good for both of us, both in education and sharing of some knowledge. We are getting to know a little bit more about how we can work together in the future,” D’Angelo said.
While meeting with aviary staff Jennifer Randell and Bree Dunham, the visitors learned about their mission, their work to restore the bald eagle population and their cultural significance to the Nishnabé people as messengers.
“What (the Tribe does) for not only for your Nation but also for the (United States) and saving those precious animals is really, really great,” D’Angelo said.
CPN Economic Development Director Dr. Jim Collard showed the AFSC around the grounds of Iron Horse and Sovereign Pipe Technologies, LLC. The site offers utilities including sewer, gas, electric and fiber optics as well as access to I-40 and Class 1 railroads. The significant economic development potential for the area showed signs of a fruitful partnership between CPN and the Air Force Sustainment Center.
“I was surprised at just all the diversity of functions. … Just chatting with the folks here, I think we can build on some workforce development opportunities. Even some recruitment to help diversify our workforce — best practices. There’s so much that I think we both can build upon,” Noble said.
With a background in electrical engineering, Col. Thomas said “seeing the industrial, technical side of (Iron Horse) is pretty cool.” He talked with CPN Department of Education Director Tesia Zientek about possible workforce collaborations, including internships, trainings and more to make the area more appealing for potential employees.
“I think it’s really exciting to see the infrastructure (CPN is) putting in place with kind of the ‘build it they will come’ mentality. And I’m excited to see what comes out here in the future because I think this will strengthen the Oklahoma City metro area community and will provide more technical jobs,” Thomas said.
CPN and the AFSC are in close proximity, only a 30-minute drive from each other along I-40. D’Angelo looks forward to forging a trusting relationship between two government and economic entities that creates a legacy.
“What we do want is an opportunity to work together and partner together that’s enduring and that will continue long after all of us are gone,” he said.
“So, we appreciate you opening the door to allow us in to do that, to take that first step. And I think we are taking that first step, and we’ve got some great ideas.”
Find the CPN Eagle Aviary online at potawatomiheritage.com/aviary.
Learn more about Iron Horse Industrial Park at ironhorsecpn.com.