Lance Morgan launched the Ho-Chunk, Inc. in 1994 as the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Now the president and CEO is receiving the Advocate of the Year Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the end of this month. Morgan will be honored during a special ceremony at the 2014 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week happening July 31 to August 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
The Advocate of the Year Award is given annually to an organization or individual who has shown leadership and commitment in advancing the minority business community. The award pays tribute to minority entrepreneurs who have demonstrated economic impact in a global economy.
Morgan was nominated by Trisha Luna, the Federal Acquisition Advisor of the Federal Procurement Center, for his direction of Ho-Chunk, Inc. The corporation has grown from one employee in 1995 to over 1,000 employees with operations in 16 states and 8 foreign countries. Ho-Chunk, Inc. operates 35 subsidiaries and has revenues in excess of $260 million. The Ho-Chunk, Inc. portfolio includes companies with SBA 8(a) certification that have been recipients of a wide variety of federal government contracts across 32 agencies.
As a minority-owned corporation, Ho-Chunk, Inc. has actively sought out qualified individuals of other minority races and ethnicities in addition to Native Americans. As a result, the company has been successful in its minority recruiting efforts and today its employee base includes 35.1 percent minorities. In the state of Nebraska, where the company is headquartered, the minority population as of the 2010 Census was 19 percent. Additionally, corporate executive management is 100% Native American.
Under Morgan’s leadership, Ho-Chunk, Inc. has created a new community on the Winnebago Reservation named the Ho-Chunk Village. The Village is a 40-acre development that includes private homes, multi-family housing, commercial and industrial businesses. The company also maintains a scholarship and internship program for Tribal youth as a means to educate and train future Ho-Chunk, Inc. employees.
The Ho-Chunk Village is a modern futuristic planned community that includes the best practices based on the cities of the future concept. Ho-Chunk Village has underground utilities, community parks, a shopping center and a cultural park celebrating the tribal heritage. The community is also energy efficient using wind generators to make the community 99% self-sufficient for electrical power. The Village has single and multi-family homes, apartments and senior living units.
Ho-Chunk, Inc. has also been responsible for funding a down payment assistance program offering qualifying tribal members up to $65,000 toward the purchase of a home. As a result, Ho-Chunk Village has seen the growth of over 25 new homes and Tribal families are becoming homeowners for the first time. There are two large apartment complexes, several duplexes and a dozen senior living units providing a significant benefit to tribal families. The development is actually going to require more land acquisition to accommodate the housing demand. New homeowners are emerging in record levels, the community infrastructure is strengthened, and more young people are pursuing a college education.
Morgan is an adjunct professor at Arizona State University and University of Arizona. He has served as the President of Native American Contractors Association (NACA) and currently serves as a board member for several corporate entities and Liberty National Bank. He is a frequent speaker across the country on topics such as Indian law and Tribal economic development issues. He has consulted with hundreds of tribal governments on economic development and taxation initiatives.
In addition to the MBDA Award, Morgan has been selected as a “Champion of Change” by the White House, one of only 18 people across the U.S. In 2012, he was awarded the Nebraska Builder Award by Harvey Perlman, Chancellor at the University of Nebraska, and was also appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2013.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only Federal agency dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. The programs and services better equip minority-owned firms to create jobs, build scale and capacity, increase revenues and expand regionally, nationally and internationally. Services are provided through a network of MBDA Business Centers. After 45 years of service, MBDA continues to be a partner to all U.S. minority-owned businesses, committed to providing programs and services that build size, scale and capacity through access to capital, contracts and markets.