FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - On Dec. 13, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) announced it received the "Tribal Enterprise of the Year" award for its outstanding performance in 2013 and the successful launch of its Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.
The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (AICCAZ) presented NNGE CEO Derrick Watchman the award at the annual Holiday Business Awards luncheon.
"We are honored to be recognized by our peers for the quality of work and amount of work we have done at the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise and Twin Arrows to provide jobs and economic stimulus for Arizona," Watchman said. "The selection committee understands my vision of creating the premier gaming entertainment destination in the region as we provide dynamic new business opportunities for the Navajo people."
Every year since 2008, the AICCAZ has put on the awards program to recognize outstanding businesses that contribute to the economy that positively affect American Indian businesses and entrepreneurs.
The chamber reviews the performances of its business members - made up of American Indian-owned businesses, tribal enterprises and corporations - for their contribution to the American Indian business community. The chamber gives awards in four categories that include Small American Indian Business of the Year, Corporate Partner of the Year, Business Diversity Program of the Year and Tribal Enterprise of the Year.
This year, the chamber announced the following:
Tribal Enterprise of the Year: Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise for their Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort Project;
Business Diversity Program of the Year: Kitchell Contractors;
Corporate Partner of the Year: Ak-Chin Indian Community; and
American Indian Small Business or Entrepreneur of the Year: Largo Photography.
"We congratulate Mr. Derrick Watchman and the entire Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise family for their efforts to launch the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort in 2013 and the tremendous positive impact it has already had in just seven months since its grand opening," said Loren Tapahe, AICCAZ president and CEO. "The interiors, design and architecture are breathtaking and display Navajo culture in a commendable fashion."
The chamber also chose to award NNGE and Twin Arrows for using American Indian laborers for the majority of the construction and to, once opened, employ more than 90 percent American Indians, much of that number from the Navajo Nation.
"The economic impacts of NNGE and Twin Arrows go beyond the 1,500 jobs we have created or thousands of dollars we've pumped back into the local economy in five years," Watchman added. "We are improving the quality of life for the construction workers and tradespeople that helped build each property, the ranchers, farmers and other local food suppliers, hundreds of Navajo artists and many more that are able to showcase their talents and culture through our Navajo Resort and Casino."