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Tue, Oct. 15

The New Yavapai Economy: Tribal enterprises contribute to economy

There are 22 federally recognized Tribes in the state of Arizona, most of which participate heartily in their local economies through various tourism-related enterprises.

There are 23 Tribal-owned casinos in Arizona, 16 resorts with 3,000-plus rooms, eight conference centers, 77 restaurants, and many other assorted tourist related destination operations.

Native American Tribes contribute to the Arizona economy through multiple venues including sales taxes paid, federal receipts, personal income and concomitant household spending, and gaming activity. On average, between 2003 and 2012, Arizona Tribes contributed over $30 million in tax revenue to the state. Our local Tribal neighbor, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, contributes $2.4 million on average per year to local and state tax revenue.

The primary federal receipts received by Tribes are Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Indian Health Service (HIS) funding. For every dollar spent on federal taxes in the state of Arizona, there is a 1.51 return in Tribal funding. This funding ripples through the state economy via construction projects and labor wages for operations.

Additionally, 60 percent of individual spending by Tribal members occurs off Tribal lands, and this is an approximate $2 billion in spending throughout local economies in Arizona per year.

Rounding out the major economic impact of Tribes is the gaming industry. Jobs in food and beverage, lodging, and gaming operations are supported by this sector.

An estimated $179 million is pushed into the economy from direct wage expenditures and further induced impact in the food and beverage sector, another $136 million in the lodging sector, and just under $2 billion in gaming operations jobs. Other sectors receiving indirect and induced impacts from gaming operations include air transportation, mining and logging, utilities, and food manufacturing.

Native American communities produce a meaningful economic and cultural impact upon the state of Arizona. Most all of the aforementioned expenditures occur in rural Arizona, making Tribal communities a major element in rural economic resiliency. Partnering with our Tribal neighbors and respecting the vibrant cultural heritage and commitment to capacity building inherent in Tribal enterprises will produce a balanced and prosperous future for all Arizonans and Yavapai County at large.

Alexandria M. Wright is director of the Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center, which provides analysis and services that facilitate economic development throughout Yavapai County and build wealth in our local communities.

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