Behind the billions are jobs: $2.4 billion in annual economic impact, 16,000 wage earners — that's the Chickasaw Nation's impact on the Oklahoma economy, a study says.
Behind the jobs? Growing diversity.
More than gaming is fueling Chickasaw growth, according to the study, “Estimating the Oklahoma Economic Impact of the Chickasaw Nation,” by the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University.
Gaming did account for 91.5 percent of Chickasaw Nation business revenue of $1.39 billion last year — from 17 gaming centers led by Riverwind Casino in Norman and WinStar World Casino in Thackerville.
But the tribe, based in Ada, also had interests in banking, health care and other professional services, led by Chickasaw Banc Holding Co., which operates Bank2 in Oklahoma City, and Chickasaw Nation Industries, which provides services for state, federal and private clients. Chickasaw businesses also include manufacturing, tourism and energy.
Further, the tribe's direct payroll came to $318 million — $525 million counting spinoff jobs — and the Chickasaw Nation paid $119 million for goods and services from Oklahoma. Chickasaw Nation government spending came to $129 million in 2011, the study found.
The study's findings “are nothing short of impressive, and they show that the Chickasaw Nation's economic activities and enterprises strongly bolster the state economy,” said Kyle Dean, associate director and research economist at the OCU Meinders School of Business.
“Through its diversified enterprises, the study underscores that the Chickasaw Nation has become an integral part of Oklahoma's overall economy and is now among the top employers and purchasers of goods and services in the state.”
Many tribal interests
Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez said the study drew together the Chickasaw Nation's diverse enterprises in a way that is hard to ignore. He spoke of the tribe as a single employer with numerous subsidiaries.
“For us, it puts a face on an employer that sometimes gets overlooked,” Lopez said, pointing out that the tribe and its business combined comprise one of the state's largest employers, with more than 10,000 direct employees working for enterprises that support another 6,000.
Those 10,000-plus Chickasaw Nation employees work in more than 60 different businesses, noted Bill Lance, CEO of the Chickasaw Nation's Division of Commerce.
“We are focused on growing our existing businesses and investing in new ventures with strong revenue and growth potential,” Lance said, mentioning investment in a high-tech medical device with a California company and expansion at Bedre, the Chickasaw-owned chocolate factory in Pauls Valley.