SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Using corporate power to build communities and homes people can afford. That’s what one CEO said is the goal for Ho-Chunk Inc.
Ho-Chunk Inc. started off 25 years ago with 15 employees. Now, it employs more than a thousand people. CEO Lance Morgan said Ho-Chunk is creating stability and opportunity for generations to come.
“If you look at what Ho-Chunk Inc. is, what we really are, is a tribe that’s organized to do business,” Morgan said.
What started as a business that made $30,000 now saw almost $30 million in profit last year.
“We have a plan. It’s pretty simple. We want to use this sort of capitalistic economic system to help create long-term income for the tribe. We’ve been beggars for 150 years. We don’t want sympathy. I’d much rather have jealousy of our success,” Morgan said.
Morgan said Ho-Chunk made $400,000 in revenue when it first started. He’s projecting $400 million this year.
Winnebago tribal members said Ho-Chunk is creating vision and security for future generations.
“H.C.I. has had a very positive impact in a lot of areas. In areas of housing that were able to have the resources to do the things we need to do in our community for education, health care, employment,” tribal councilman John Snowball said.
Morgan said Ho-Chunk employs several hundred Winnebago tribal members.
“There was a time where we weren’t a big employer and now the tribe has so many jobs, so many opportunities available for our tribal members,” Snowball said.
From real estate in South Sioux City to recently acquiring property on Historic Fourth Street, Ho-Chunk is planting its seed all across Siouxland.
“In our effort to sort of drive our own expansion, it’s also led to economic activity for the people who work for us and also for the vendors that deal with us, so we’ve been able to use our advantages and the tribal system in a way to create a much bigger tent that a lot of other people that are not tribal people alone can benefit from,” Morgan said.
Morgan adds it hasn’t always been easy dealing with state government and getting acceptance from outside businesses, as well as on the reservation, but he said Ho-Chunk is on the fast track to creating more business
This year, Morgan projects to cumulatively cross $4 billion in total revenue.