Eastern Shawnee Tribe's Economic Developer Hoyit Bacon facilitated the day-long event at Indigo Sky Casino's Banquet Room which was open to all involved in tribal and Native-owned enterprises.

WYANDOTTE – Exciting and innovative ideas were shared during the 'Turning the Spend' business and economic development symposium hosted by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.

Eastern Shawnee Tribe's Economic Developer Hoyit Bacon facilitated the day-long event at Indigo Sky Casino's Banquet Room which was open to all involved in tribal and Native-owned enterprises.

About 30 business and economic growth-minded attendees came to network, discuss, find possible solutions and develop ideas to set the stage for rapidly growing business and industry in Indian Country through workshop sessions, presenters, and a dynamic keynote speaker.

The keynote speaker, Gary Davis, also known by his stage name Litefoot, is a successful well-known Native American rapper, actor, and entrepreneur, starting and owning his own business Red Vinyl Records. He now runs a marketing, communications, media, and business consulting firm, Davis Strategy Group with his wife Carmen. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association.

Davis is an enrolled Cherokee, and is best known for his acting role as Little Bear in the Paramount Pictures movie 'The Indian in the Cupboard.'

Davis challenged attendees to be creative, embrace opportunities, and never quit to set and accomplish goals. He told attendees the potential for growth is explosive.

“If you've always done what you've always done, you're always going to get what you've always got,” he said. “There's no reason why we shouldn't leverage our position and our capabilities to a much higher level than what we currently are.”

Davis told many anecdotal stories about his own experiences and spoke of how a cohesive and organized Indian country effort could build on prosperous endeavors and offer ways to branch out and bring in more revenues.

“There's nothing the Indian country endeavors to do that Indian country can't do,” Davis said.

Grand Gateway Economic Development Association's Executive Director Ed Crone presented on opportunities afforded through regional economic development efforts.

“The whole concept of regionalism is something to where we perceive the available assets to plan our path forward as bigger and broader than what we have in our own backyard. As Eastern Shawnee we have three casinos, we have 2,500 acres, we have roughly 1,000 employees those are the resources and tools we have,” Bacon said. “Well, what does that number and opportunity jump to if we have other tribes as resources, their land, their money, their human capital, their ideas, their intellect? What it does is it take the cap off what we can accomplish...There's no reason we can't do it.”

Some of the most exciting ideas to come out of work sessions was the possibility of creating and forming a local Native American business chamber of commerce, and developing more opportunities for tribal businesses to supply tribal and others enterprise needs.

The event was supported by Conner & Winters law firm and Petro-Mart.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.