- Brian Liebenstein
- Madras Pioneer - Sports
In a move to further diversify its economy, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs provided funding for an economic development corporation earlier this year.
The new corporation will concentrate on exploring new business and investment opportunities to broaden tribal economy, both one and off the reservation's property. A priority will be to generate new revenue for the tribes, according to a press release from the tribes.
One of the first priorities was to conduct a national search for a chief executive office, and Thomas Henderson was recently selected.
Henderson brings a wealth of top-level executive experience to the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation. His resume includes stints as president and CEO of a subsidiary of Helen Curtis Industries Inc., as executive vice president and general manager of Mandalay Sports and Entertainment, and as director of Banana Republic and GAP clothing stores.
In addition, Henderson also owned a radio station in the Los Angeles area. he has done consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. His experience includes retail, wholesale, manufacturing, media, consulting, start-up and turn-around ventures.
A six-member board of directors for the new corporation was chosen by a committee which included Tribal Council Chair Olney Patt Jr., Secretary-Treasurer Charles Jackson, Chief Operations Officer Willy Fuentes, and Business and Economic Development General Manager Mike Clements.
The board has three tribal members and three non-members. James Fitzhenry is the chairman of the board, tribal member Deni Leonard, James Perris will be the board secretary, tribal member Pinky Beymer, David Flannigam will be the treasurer, and tribal member Gerald Smith.
Fitzhenry is a senior vice president and general counsel for FLIR Systems, a company that produces and sells infrared cameras, thermal imaging software and temperature measurement systems.
Leonard is the CEO of DLA Financial Inc., an American Indian financial advisory company in San Francisco, which develops financing structures for tribes in bond financing, equity participation and leasing.
Perris is the chief financial officer for Yoshida Group, a conglomerate of 17 diverse companies.
Beymer is the co-owner of Chilkat Enterprise, an excavating and heavy equipment construction company. The business has won numerous awards for women and minority-owned businesses. She also owns and operates Vanora Farms with her husband Kelly, which produces hay and cattle.
Flannigam is an entrepreneur, with an expertise in start-up businesses and international marketing.
Smith is the business manager of Chemawa Indian School in Salem and has an extensive background in management of government projects. He is also on the Warm Springs Composite Products Board of Directors, and active with the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team as a coach and referee.
Chairman Fitzhenry is very enthusiastic about the new company and what it can do for the tribes.
"The tribe ahs taken the significant step to diversify its economy. This is coming at a time when revenue in timber is declining and hydro revenue is uncertain because of the new partnership with Portland General Electric on the Pelton-Round Butte Hydro Project," he said.
"At a time when people are getting laid off across the nation, the tribe is focusing on different businesses, looking for ideas and ways to create business opportunities away from its traditional natural resource base, and something other than gaming," Fitzhenry said.
Tribal Secretary-Treasurer Jackson said the idea for an economic development corporation has been discussed among tribal officials for a number of years. Jackson is recommending that the tribes fund the company over the next 10-year period.