Dignitaries from across the state including former Congressman Wes Watkins, Cheyenne & Arapahoe Tribal Governor Reggie Wassana and Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling witnessed Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett receive the Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc.’s Vision Award for the Tribe’s impact in the state.

“We are honored to be recognized for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s contributions to the state of Oklahoma,” Barrett said. “Our guiding principle is that a rising tide lifts all boats, and CPN has exemplified that with our $500 million economic impact over the years.”

Taking place in the Grand Casino Hotel and Resort’s Grand Event Center, REI’s Dream BIG Oklahoma awards is an annual event honoring organizations who build, innovate and grow the state’s economy. The Vision Award recognizes a business or corporation who has truly transitioned their dreams and visions into reality while enhancing Oklahoma’s economy.

“Mr. Barrett is a visionary and is always thinking outside the box, regardless of the sector,” wrote First National Bank and Trust Co. President Larry Briggs in a nomination submission. “There have been untold dollars contributed to school systems, local towns and communities, and Pottawatomie County.”

CPN’s advancement from humble economic roots in the 1970s to the powerhouse it is today under the leadership of Chairman Barrett helped lead to its selection for this year’s award. During his time in Tribal office, the Nation has become known as an innovator in utilizing the tools at its disposal to develop its businesses and governmental programs to improve local communities in and around its jurisdiction.

The Nation has experienced tremendous economic growth in the past two decades at a rate of 15 percent annually for more than 20 consecutive years. It is the largest employer in Pottawatomie County by a factor of five and has created seven out of 10 new jobs in the area for the past decade. Its commercial enterprises and Tribal government programs further the success of the Nation and surrounding non-Native communities by providing jobs, economic and infrastructure development, and charitable contributions. It recently hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for Pro-Pipe USA LLC in the Tribal-owned Iron Horse Industrial Park, an enterprise that will likely lead to increased jobs in coming years for the Pottawatomie County community.

Originally founded in 1980 to enhance economic prospects in rural southeastern portions of the state, REI Oklahoma expands economic opportunities for Oklahomans by providing flexible financing and development services to individuals, businesses and entrepreneurs with limited access to resources.