Published July 27, 2017
TWIN ARROWS – On Tuesday, Jul. 25, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed legislation approving the establishment of the Naat’áanii Development Corporation (NDC).
President Begaye said that establishing the NDC positions the Navajo Nation to move towards a higher level of economic development by utilizing the Corporation’s four subsidiaries.
“The NDC is a powerful tool that has been pulled together by the Navajo Nation Council along with staff of the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP),” he said. “This is the vehicle that is going to make the Navajo Nation one of the Southwest’s largest employers while boosting our levels of economic development.”
The Naat’áanii Development Corporation will incorporate four subsidiary companies under its holding umbrella to: attract manufacturing corporations and job creation; to implement an environmental remediation services company; to ease the challenges of housing; and to create a healthcare company to provide services related to IHS, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Capitalizing on the health subsidiary could ease the economic impacts the Nation might sustain in the shutdown and decommissioning of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) along with the Kayenta Peabody Mine.
“By developing our own health care company, the Navajo Nation has the potential to gain over $400 million dollars in direct Medicaid reimbursements,” President Begaye said.
Currently, there are approximately 80,000 Navajos living in New Mexico that participate in Medicaid. Medicaid funds that are reimbursed to the state of New Mexico on behalf of Navajo patients are equal to upward of $419 million dollars.
“That’s almost half a billion dollars that New Mexico gets for treating our Navajo people,” he said. “This money should rightfully come to the Navajo Nation through its own health care company.”
The environmental subsidiary will be assistive in decommissioning NGS and uranium clean up across the Nation. It provides the Nation the opportunity to collaborate with tribal colleges and universities in developing specific training for uranium clean-up, which can effectively employ a workforce of Navajo people.
“The Navajo Nation will go after the $1.7 billion dollars that the EPA is holding to assist in uranium clean-up,” the president said. “This will generate both revenue and employment.”
The Nation can also affect both housing and job creation through the construction subsidiary by building homes and gated communities. President Begaye said the Navajo Nation needs to develop housing that accommodates income levels from mid-to-high ranges.
“We need the ability to bring in different types of housing that we know our people can afford. Rather than always looking to build homes for low-income ranges, we need to build for mid-level incomes on up,” he said. “We have the potential to see construction take place on the Nation. That, in itself, will bring in a lot of revenue.”
The manufacturing subsidiary has already attracted the attention of companies like Google and Boeing who are waiting for legislation to be signed to further potential manufacturing developments on the Nation.
“It’s going to provide federal tax exemption to any company that falls under it, which is huge,” President Begaye said. “Corporations like Walmart and Target are surprised that we are putting the NDC in place. They want to be a part of this.”
Resource and Development Committee Chairman, Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd (Jeddito, Cornfields, Ganado, Kin Dah Lichii, Steamboat) said that implementing the NDC will leave a legacy that many past delegates and tribal officials have contributed to.
“As leaders, we try to bring solutions to the enormous needs of the Navajo people. Many leaders have contributed to the passing of this legislation,” Chairman Shepherd said. “We know how the rules are set up outside of the Navajo Nation and we play by those rules. With the establishment of the NDC, we are hoping to give our people a hand up and not necessarily a hand out. This is true sovereignty.”
President Begaye said establishing the NDC will move the Navajo Nation to a new level of development.
“This signing is very significant to the Navajo Nation and the reduction of unemployment,” he said. “We appreciate the council’s support of this legislation.”