An exception to the trend of separating political from business functions is the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which began self-directed economic development in the late 1960s, under the leadership of the late Chief Phillip Martin. In this case, it was the vision and business acumen of the tribal chief that drove successful economic diversification for nearly four decades.
MBCI was federally recognized in 1945, but still had unemployment of 80 percent into the late 1960s. Economic development on the MBCI reservation began in 1969, when the tribe set up a construction company to build the low-income homes being funded by a federal program. The strategy was to make a small profit while also teaching skills to tribal members.
In 1985, the tribe opened a factory manufacturing automotive speakers in partnership with the Oxford Speaker Company. Three other manufacturing plants opened in the 1980s and 1990s,including another printing company and a plastic molding enterprise.
Over the past 50 years, MBCI has pursued a diversified portfolio of business operations.
MBCI also created a tribally chartered corporation to pursue federal contracting opportunities. MBCI is ranked among the Top 10 private employers in Mississippi, with 5,000 full time employees.
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