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Strategic Planning Crucial for Tribal Economic Sustainability

“You have to make a long term plan for diversification, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to commit to the reinvestment necessary to accomplish your goals so you are not bleeding enterprises dry while on the path. [It’s] critical to continually educate the leadership and community about the plan and how it’s progressing.”

Strategic Planning Crucial for Tribal Economic SustainabilityTribes with significant gaming initiatives and related businesses can find themselves bombarded with myriad offers, opportunities and potential scams. Throughout Indian Country, many tribal leaders are often faced with a stack of business plans―from family and friends, as well as unsolicited proposals from off the reservation―awaiting their attention.

For tribal nations with an eye toward the future, dealing with the sheer number of opportunities can present a number of challenges, including wasted resources, implementation of projects that simply don’t work and stasis in decision-making. Taken together, these challenges can inhibit growth in Native communities.

With a thoughtful, well-organized Strategic Planning Work Session, however, tribes can follow a structured, objective process that can help align their internal goals for diversification with long-term sustainability that is crucial to maintaining governmental and economic stability.

Most tribes, says BSSG president John Mooers, are very cognizant of the importance of developing and implementing a viable plan that works―regardless of whether they are located near urban or rural areas. And depending on what a particular tribe’s needs are, BSSG has planning solutions for tribal governance, its business operations, or both.

“We have worked with tribes that spent many years and a lot of money on projects and initiatives that had produced no equitable results,” says BSSG President John Mooers. “So we set up a two-day work session to assess where they are and we go over what did and didn’t work for them. We review government documents, by-laws and ordinances and interview stakeholders, including the tribal council and economic council board members.”

Over the two-day work session, BSSG identified their top priorities and their existing resources to create and a practical, step-by-step action plan that can help them move in the direction they want to go, says Mooers.

Mooers says that it’s important to note that there are no absolute answers that apply to all of Indian Country. Each tribe has its own unique needs and goals, and enterprises that look profitable for one tribe might not look as promising for another. Therefore, it is vital to never assume that that a strategic plan developed for one tribe would apply to another.  

“Our work sessions are a very effective cost benefit for tribes whose economic growth has stagnated or started to decline,” says Mooers. “Our strategists always take detailed notes so that we are able to fully assess where the opportunities and challenges lie. Afterward we can bring real-world options to the table in creating workable solutions.”

One key aspect not often considered by tribes, for example, is how diversification will impact risk/return potential and job creation as a part of an overall business strategy. This concept, known as portfolio management, is a simple and powerful tool that helps leaders focus on the entirety of the tribal economic and financial picture, not just viewing single investments as isolated decisions.

“As we all know, governments don’t make money, they spend money,” says Mooers. “So a lot of  what we’re doing in Indian country is creating job opportunities and efficiencies in their enterprises to generate the profits and tax revenues necessary to fund the government, which in turn increases its ability to provide services to its members.”

Mooers says that while the Strategic Planning Sessions are two-days, BSSG also has buildable solutions for assessment, planning and implementation for a wide array of concerns, including governmental, business development, housing, healthcare, and more.

“Our work sessions are very effective at identifying and establishing a strategic action plan that is tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of a tribal nation,” says Mooers. “But we can also build a comprehensive plan that can help build a stable government with a growth economy.”