January 2, 2017
WINDOW ROCK – If you want to know what drives Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, it can be summed up in one word: jobs.
He and his vice president, Jonathan Nez, spent much of 2016 planning and holding economic summits and setting the stage for the creation of jobs on the reservation.
He said in a year-end interview held Wednesday that his efforts so far have created 652 actual positions in all fields.
“This was all across the reservation,” he said, adding that programs in the process of being developed will pave the way for a lot more job creation in the future.
The growth was spurred by the holding of two economic summits over the year.
At one of the events, tribal officials met with representatives of Bashas’ supermarkets and this resulted in the company agreeing to sell Navajo beef at its stores (see related story).
Begay said tribal officials also contacted restaurants in places like Tuba City and have received positive feedback and agreements to use Navajo beef in their operations as well.
“We are also moving forward in making changes in the way NAPI (Navajo Agricultural Products Industries) operates,” he said.
His office has been working with NAPI officials, he said, to switch from traditional farming to organic, which is not only healthier but also increases revenue while creating more jobs.
This will open up NAPI’s market worldwide to places that sell organic food, he said.
“I’m really exited about this transition,” he said.
Other possibilities opened this year through conversations his office had with officials for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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