1st Annual Cherokee Business Summit & Expo held at Casino

by Jul 29, 2011Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments




     EBCI tribal member Daniel Tramper is a world champion hoop dancer, a champion fancy dancer and a well-respected person in the pow wow world.  But, don’t forget one other way to describe him – small business owner.   He decided to share his company, Deer Clan Productions, at the 1st Annual Cherokee Business Summit & Expo held Thursday, July 28 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel. 

A host of local and state officials cut the ribbon to officially open the 1st Annual Cherokee Business Summit & Expo on Thursday, July 28 at Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel. Shown in front (left-right) are Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Commerce; Principal Chief Michell Hicks and Tony Hayes, CEO of the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Iniatiative. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

     “Actually, this is my first trade show so I’m hoping it’ll really improve my business,” said Tramper who related that his business is doing well and he hopes the event will help him expand it further. 

     Four years ago, Tramper started the business whose services range from offering stagehand work to providing theatre-style American Indian dance shows. 

     “I’ve actually danced at trade shows before, and this time I’m doing it as a business and I hope it’ll help knock some business my way.” 

     The Business Expo was a collaborative effort of The Sequoyah Fund, Cherokee Business Development Center and the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative (NCIEDI). 

Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Commerce, speaks prior to the opening of Thursday's Business Expo.

     “We have had a lot of discussions about small business coming to Cherokee,” said Kimlyn Lambert, an EBCI tribal member serving on the NCIEDI board, “and, the need for people to be entrepreneurs and come and do small businesses here such as dry cleaning, etc. that a lot of bigger towns have that we don’t have here.  So, this kind of grew out of the conversations that we had and we’ve been trying to partner all these people together with everybody to figure out how we can bring more small business and economic development to Cherokee.” 

     Principal Chief Michell Hicks was happy with the event’s turnout, “With all of the diversity that we have here, I think it’s great, and I think that the further we can reach out and the more folks that are reaching to us, it’s just going to help us overall to build a stronger future and to have more opportunity.” 

3 Sisters Enterprises owners Jonnie Walkingstick, Judy Castorena and Polly Castorena talk with Joseph Riverwind at their booth during Thursday's Business Expo.

     “If you look at the companies represented here and the various areas that they are in, I just think it adds strength.  Anytime you can build and maintain relationships, whether it’s a compression company or an energy company, it’s going to help the Tribe.  I think it’s a great thing.”

     Chief Hicks said it is especially nice to see businesses from the eastern part of the state represented at the event.  “It’s good to see them come up here.  They here the talk of what Cherokee is doing, but they don’t get to see it.  By getting up here, they get to see it and they can take it back and spread the word and that’s the important thing.” 

     Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce was on hand for the event.  “Well, the Cherokee Business Summit & Expo is a great example of bringing together small businesspeople.  I mentioned during my remarks here on behalf of the Department of Commerce and Gov. Bev Perdue the North Carolina Capital Access Program that can help companies, like the small businesses that are here.  It’s just a great networking opportunity.” 


Donna Locklear, of Metcon Construction, speaks with EBCI tribal member Justice Littlejohn.

     While many businesses were from other parts of the state, local businesses were very well represented at the event including 3 Sisters Enterprises which is locally-owned by three EBCI tribal members that are, well, sisters.  Judy Castorena, Polly Castorena and Jonnie Walkingstick started the custom screen printing and embroidery business on July 1, 2008 and haven’t looked back since. 

     “Our business has been prosperous since day one,” Polly related.  “We’ve been able to accommodate a service to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that was not prominent, and this event is going to expose us to outside the reservation.  We’ve been isolated and we’re going to try to test our wings and see the world.” 

Deer Clans Productions owner Daniel Tramper (left) meets with Lynn Blankenship and Kimberly Winchester of the Cherokee Business Development Office.

     To learn more about starting a business, visit The Sequoyah Fund at www.sequoyahfund.org or the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative (NCIEDI) at www.ncindian.com.