Nez approves funding request for Navajo Nation enterprises
Casino, shopping center, hospitality and arts an crafts enterprises to see relief from pandemic's fiscal impacts
- Heads of tribal enterprises told leaders that ongoing closures have resulted in lost revenue, difficulties meeting financial obligations and workforce reductions.
- Also granted was $4 million in supplemental funding for summer youth employment programs managed by the 110 chapters.
GALLUP — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has approved a $18.7 million supplemental funding request to help tribal enterprises address the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer signed on Feb. 26 the tribal council resolution to allocate the amount from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance.
The approval comes after officials from the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise, Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise and Navajo Nation Shopping Centers Inc. told leaders that ongoing closures have resulted in lost revenue, difficulties meeting financial obligations and workforce reductions.
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The amount will be divided among the businesses with the gaming enterprise receiving the most at $15 million.
The financial uncertainty faced by the four enterprises adds to a year mixed with the death of loved ones and the hope COVID-19 vaccines brings to communities, Nez and Lizer wrote in a letter to Speaker Seth Damon.
"Our citizens also experienced adversity in providing for their families since many were laid off from their jobs or their hours were reduced. While we supported many employees, the enterprise employees were affected in greater numbers and now also deserve support," the leaders wrote.
They expressed gratitude to the enterprises for following public health orders and for protecting employees by halting operations.
"Over the years our enterprises have supported the Navajo Nation through dividend payments and support of our students with scholarship contributions. Now we must work together to keep our nation moving forward," they wrote.
Youth employment program receives funding
Nez also signed off on $4 million in supplemental funding for summer youth employment programs managed by the 110 chapters.
Under the program, chapters hire high school and college students during the summer to help them gain work experience and to earn income to help pay for school expenses.
"We must put our trust in all our Navajo chapters to have a safety plan that would ensure that each young person is protected as much as possible," Nez and Lizer wrote in their message to Damon about the program funding.
They also expressed concern that the tribal council resolution lacked plans for keeping students safe as they work at chapter facilities.
"As an employer, each Navajo government branch put in place a plan to safely bring employees back to work, keep them safe at the office, and procedures should any employee be affected by the coronavirus. We should expect no less from Navajo chapters," they wrote.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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