FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Hopi Tribal Council formed the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation (HTCDC) in 2005 to create a thriving economic environment on the Reservation by securing resources, and providing the guidance and training that allows Hopi Tribe members to prosper and preserve their homeland and culture.
Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lombardo described the corporation as an organization focused on conducting economic development activity on behalf of the Hopi Tribe.
"We currently have six businesses under management now and we are working to expand and grow our economic base to create eventual revenue streams back to the Hopi Tribe as well as economic opportunities," Lombardo said.
Economic opportunities can be jobs or ways for Hopi people to start their own businesses or sell their wares, like at the Heritage Square Festival or Native markets in Holbrook.
Lombardo came on board in February of 2012 in an interim capacity before he was hired as CEO. He evaluated the six businesses to help identify ways to make more money and grow the businesses.
"It was not only evaluating the current businesses and what opportunities are there but what else could the corporation do to create revenue and economic activity for the Hopi people," Lombardo said.
The corporation has a board of directors that sets the strategic direction. As a member of the board, Lombardo is a part of that conversation.
Clarice Tafoya, who is Hopi from the village of Oraibi, is the Explore Hopi Director for HTEDC. She said her experience in events planning will help her in her new job.
"We want to have bigger events, get more of the local people involved and get more people out here through offering them a lot more to their visit," Tafoya said. "That is something we are working on right now."
Lombardo said interest in Native American history is very strong and people want to visit and see what Hopi is all about. But, there is a need to balance that interest with respect for cultural sensitivities and the local wishes of each village.
"The vision is to really be more coordinated. Today there is a lot of individualism out on the reservation when it comes to tourism and what we are trying to do is do a better job of harnessing this," Lombardo said. "For those who are interested in participating, we help bring the people to the reservation and where there are opportunities, they become part of this bigger experience, what we call, Explore Hopi versus someone just wandering on the reservation and seeing a village that is open and saying that was a great afternoon but they are really missing Hopi. This larger experience will allow for more activity during this visit thus more opportunities for others on Hopi."
Tofoya said that in addition to bringing more tourists to Hopi the corporation creates job opportunities for the Hopi people.
"With all our different businesses out there, a lot of people don't necessarily live on the Hopi reservation but we do have businesses on the outside and a lot of us like to help our people, I think that is a big part of the job opportunities out there," Tofoya said.
Through tourism and other projects like the potential development of lands along I-40 between Flagstaff and Winslow, Lombardo says HTEDC's purpose is to provide an economic base for the Hopi people.
"We want to bring an economy to Hopi," Lombardo said. "That's what tourism does, it helps to start building an economy. If successful and dollars are spent on the reservation, eventually additional business opportunities will be created."
Headquartered in Flagstaff, HTEDC owns and operates, on behalf the Hopi Tribe, Hopi Cultural Center Restaurant and Inn on Second Mesa, Days Inn Kokopelli in the Village of Oak Creek, Hopi Travel Plaza off I-40 near Holbrook, Hopi 3 Canyon Ranches near Winslow, Springerville and Flagstaff and the commercial properties of Heritage Square, Continental Plaza and Kachina Square in Flagstaff.