SUBMITTED By Dr. MICKEY DUVALL
~EBCI Tribal Job Fair
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is hosting a “Tribal Job Fair” on April 28 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The focus of this event is to achieve 100% employment for EBCI Tribal Members. *Principal Chief Michell Hicks will deliver the keynote opening address at 9:00 a.m. This event is being sponsored by the EBCI Office of Economic and Business Development, The Sequoyah Fund, T.E.R.O., and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel. This event will take place at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel (Grand Ballroom, second floor location) in Cherokee, NC. KISS/FM Asheville Regional Radio Station 99.9 will cover the event live. *Admission is free for all potential employers and job seekers. Employer booth space can be purchased in advance for a nominal fee by contacting Ms. Kimberly Winchester in the EBCI Business Development Office prior to April 23rd at: (828)497-1666. You are invited to attend and help us spread the word throughout the Tribe!
~Harry Gant Steak & Seafood Restaurant
Our office has been in touch with Mr. Bill Dukes, Long Horn Steak Houses, and (through an EBCI Tribal Member’s connection) to Mr. Harry Gant (NASCAR race car driver celebrity) for a possible NASCAR Steak & Seafood Restaurant in Cherokee near Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel. Other NASCAR celebrities identified to possibly partner with Harry Gant include; Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Jimmy Johnson. A meeting is trying to be scheduled for mid to late summer 2010.
~Wal-Mart Corp., U.S.A.
Tribal Council hired “The Goodman Company” (Mr. John Dowd) as Wal-Mart Consultant and they are leading the effort to pressure Wal-Mart to finalize the “Main Lease Agreement” approved by Tribal Council. The agreement was sent to Wal-Mart’s “Real Estate Managers” (Mr. Brian Hooper and Mr. Carl Mueller). Our consultants informed us in early 2010 that Wal-Mart’s domestic focus had changed primarily to urban markets due to the recent recession, however they would continue to pressure Wal-Mart’s upper management to get the Cherokee Deal approved and construction scheduled as soon as possible since lease negotiations with the Tribe had been on-going prior to the down-turn in the U.S. Economy. Mr. Dowd (Tribal Consultant) informed me that he had talked to Mr. Carl Mueller and we are in a “holding pattern” due to Wal-Mart’s “strategic re-focusing for new store start-ups” and awaiting word from key Wal-Mart Officials as to projected lease approvals and possible construction timelines.
~Cherokee Indoor Water Park, Hotel & Convention Center
Under the direction of EBCI Tribal Planning Board, the Office of Planning & Development solicited RFP’s in February – March 2010 (Request For Proposals) regarding the possible development and construction of an Indoor Water Park, Hotel & Convention Center to be located on the Qualla Boundary. Numerous proposals were received from some of the top water park developers/designers in the world, including Kalahari Resorts, Great Wolf Lodge, Atlantis/Paradise Island-Bahamas, Typhoon Lagoon, to name a few. These companies will be in Cherokee on April 22 to present proposals including design, pro forma, investor procurement, funding/grant procurement, and management/operations information to Chief Hicks, Tribal Council, Tribal Planning Board, and the Tribal Water Park Committee.
~Children’s Discovery Center/Lift Area Cultural Renovation
Under the direction of Principal Chief Hicks and EBCI Tribal Planning Board, the Office of Planning & Development solicited RFP’s in March regarding the possible development & best placement of a Children’s Discovery Center and Cultural Renovations to the “Lift Area” across from the Tribal Festival Grounds. Proposals were due in by Friday, April 16.
~Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
I had the opportunity to visit the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Economic Development Corporation in late March 2010. I meet with officials from the MBCI Economic Development, Pearl River Resort, and various Tribal Enterprises to gain a better understanding of the Choctaw’s great success in the area of Federal Contracting. I gained tremendous knowledge “first hand” from the Choctaw Nation that has numerous active U.S. Department of Defense contracts including the hydraulic “on-unit flight control systems” for state-of-the-art existing and next generation missile guidance systems. Also, the Choctaws are involved in producing several components for upgrades to the U.S. Bradley Tank Fleet and are involved in manufacturing the only DOD approved heating/cooling/air filtration system retrofits for the existing Hummer Fleet as well as new designs for the next generation replacement armored vehicles. Lastly, the Tribe is heavily involved in robotic land rover technology and is currently providing these units to the U.S. for use in Iraq and Afghanistan as land mine detection devices. In the upcoming month’s our office will be soliciting help and guidance from the Choctaw’s in developing as similar program for the EBCI. Federal contracting offers great opportunity to Tribes to create high tech top paying jobs for all Tribal Members.
~ACE Hardware Company
During the first quarter of 2010, the EBCI Office of Planning & Development and Principal Chief Hicks met with ACE Hardware Regional Managers including Mr. Joe Perz, Market Development Manager for the company, regarding possibilities of locating a store in Cherokee, NC. A Tribal Member has expressed interest and is now in the process of negotiating an independently owned and operated ACE Hardware Store on the Qualla Boundary.
~Target Corp., U.S.A.
Target Corporation was contacted in the first quarter of 2010. Target continues to remain focused primarily on developing in major urban population centers with high traffic counts and population density per square mile. Areas of current interest include locations near Raleigh, North Carolina and Memphis, TN.
~Magic Mart Corp., U.S.A.
Mr. Richard Ammar, CEO and Founder of Magic Mart Stores was contacted in April 2010. Mr. Ammar expressed great interest in trying to locate a store in Cherokee during the last quarter of 2010. Richard indicated Magic Mart was currently engaged in building two new stores per year and these had already gotten underway. Mr. Ammar is planning a trip to Cherokee in the near future to look at possible locations. *Magic Mart typically builds a store footprints over 100,000 sq. ft. and gives Wal-Mart some serious competition.
~Cherokee Outdoor World (Sporting Goods Center/comparable to Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Gander Mountain)
The Office of Planning & Development and EBCI Tribal Planning Board hosted Mr. Orlando Wilson (Television Fishing Show Legend) and his business associate Mr. Chuck Shultz in the first quarter of 2010 to propose a possible celebrity brand regarding an outdoor sporting goods center in Cherokee. The EBCI Tribal Planning Board voted to send out RFP’s (Requests For Proposals) pertaining to development of the store’s specific pro forma, size/layout, project costs, possible investor procurement, financing, and management/operational costs. Potential sites identified in the Land Schematic Plan recently completed and commissioned by the Planning Board include the Cherokee Crossing site or the Old Elementary School site (this development would provide a catalyst for other “high-line” contiguous retail development). *Smokey Mountain Knife Works (Pigeon Forge, TN) has been approached, and are interested as a possible partner in this project.
~Olive Garden Restaurants
Our office has contacted Olive Garden Restaurants. Olive Garden expressed interest in locating in or very near Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel. We referred Olive Garden to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Officials in charge of restaurant expansion for further discussions and follow-up.
Mr. Glen Martin, Denny’s Senior Real Estate Development Manager was in Cherokee earlier this month. Mr. Martin was given an extensive tour of Cherokee and possible locations for a Denny’s Franchise. Mr. Martin indicated high interest and our office is now in the process of sending pertinent information regarding requested sites/locations.
~Johnny Rockets Restaurants
Mr. David Eberle, Senior Real Estate Developer for Johnny Rockets Restaurants visited Cherokee in July 2009. Our office contacted, initiated, and set the meeting with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Hotel Officials responsible for the current expansion development (restaurants). *Mr. Eberle indicated to me the meeting was successful and location of the Johnny Rockets Franchise in Cherokee was definitely a possibility.
~Lone Star Steakhouse
Mr. Bill Martens indicated that the Lone Star Steakhouse Franchise was “not considering new development opportunities at this time”.
~Ruby Tuesdays Restaurants
The EBCI Office of Planning & Development contacted Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurants and received the following response from Ms. Kimberly Kneier (Ruby Tuesdays Senior Development Director). “Mickey, I’d love to expand in your area. I am very familiar with it. However, we aren’t expanding at all at this time and probably won’t be expanding for the next 24 -36 months”.
~Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
Our office has contacted Cracker Barrel yearly and I contacted them again on May 29th, 2010. The following is the response received from Mr. Joe Jaynes, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. “Thanks for your interest in Cracker Barrel. Cherokee is a market we’re aware of and considered adding a location there. However, at this time we have cut back the number of new store openings for the next few years. Regardless, I’ll keep your information in my file and give you a call when we are ready to explore possibilities in Cherokee, NC.
~Mast General Store
Mast General Store was contacted by our office again in March, 2010. We received this response from Mr. John E. Cooper, Jr., President, Mast General Store, Inc. “Our company has determined that future growth be through revitalizing and emerging downtowns and have found that we require a pretty significant population base to make our business model work. Our last three stores have been established in the downtowns of Asheville, Greenville and Knoxville. All of these stores went in restored historic structures. I have a great deal of respect for the leaders of the Cherokee Tribe and wish them success with their new commercial venture. Thank you for your interest.
Our office is continuing to work with D & M Holdings (Mr. David Carson) in Greenville, SC regarding the possibility of a C.V.S. Pharmacy in Cherokee. We continue to provide information as requested and anticipate a follow-up meeting sometime in May or June 2010. As previously mentioned, the economic down turn has greatly affected commercial retail expansion efforts, especially in the area of new pharmacy start-ups.
~Entech Creative, Inc.
Our office has recruited Mr. George Moore (President, Entech Creative) to invest in a Disney Style Entertainment Complex developing a “high-end theme park” to Cherokee located at the existing Cherokee Fun Park location. The lease has been signed by the Chief as well as Entech and a projected late May early June 2010 Grand Opening Event is being planned. Entech is now on site beginning necessary improvements, planning, and park design. Entech Creative boasts an outstanding portfolio list of clients including: Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount Theme Parks, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens, The Smithsonian Institution, Mattel, Kennedy Space Center, Ford Motor Company, Nickelodeon, and Orlando Science Center to name a few.
~Walgreens Drug Stores
Our office continues ongoing discussions with Walgreens Drug Stores regarding a possible store location in Cherokee, but given the current economic downturn, our success has been limited. We are continuing to try to schedule a meeting with Walgreens sometime in May 2010.
~International House of Pancakes
I spoke with Mrs. Laura Tanaka on August 17th. Mrs. Tanaka expressed great interest in Cherokee regarding possible location of an International House of Pancakes Franchise. Our office is currently submitting market/demographic information to Mrs. Tanaka/IHOP. An meeting in Cherokee in May-June 2010 is being planned with IHOP Franchisees.
~Casual Male Clothiers
Mr. Peter Schmitt was contacted again at the request of a Tribal Member regarding the possible location of a Casual Male Clothing Store in Cherokee. Mr. Schmitt indicated via email letter that Casual Male expansions were on hold at this time due to the economy. He asked us to check back with him in six months as he is interested in opening a future store in Cherokee.
As evidenced in the first quarter 2010 retail report, retail recruitment in the current economic downturn has been tough, but can certainly be rewarding if persistence and pressure are continuously applied. *I appreciate the continuous direction given from EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Tribal Council Members, Tribal Planning Board Members and the fine staff and all employees within the EBCI Office of Economic Development who have helped make these initiatives possible. The Planning and Development Department is continuing to work very hard even in a nationwide recession to recruit key businesses to the Qualla Boundary.
Dr. Michael N. Duvall, M.P.A., Ph.D., NC Real Estate Broker & NC State Certified Real Estate Instructor, is the Planning & Development Director for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.