Though The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians started its economic development with a bingo hall that grew into Seven Feathers Casino Resort, its diverse business endeavors cover a range of interests.
One of the wealthiest tribes in Oregon, The Cow Creek Band owns Seven Feathers Truck and Travel, Umpqua Indian Development Corporation (UIDC) Property Division, Umpqua Construction Services, Nesika Health Group, Canyon Cubbyholes, Anvil Northwest and K-Bar Ranches.
Under the UIDC Hospitality Division, the tribe operates Seven Feathers RV Resort, Rivers West RV Park and most recently Holiday Inn Express, which it acquired in January 2016.
“The tribe’s really good at hospitality and there’s a wide variety of talents across the tribe,” said John McCafferty, business operations officer. “There’s really not a lot they couldn’t be involved in if they wanted to be.”
The tribe donated the Umpqua Business Center in Roseburg to the community for 10 years starting in 2012. On the bottom floor of the UBC, the tribe runs a data center.
These businesses are separate from Seven Feathers Casino Resort and each have their own general manager. The tribe doesn’t divulge how much money the casino and other businesses bring in, but they provide hundreds of jobs, and revenues go back to the tribe to help fund its programs and donations.
McCafferty said the tribal leadership didn’t want to put all its eggs in one basket, so decided to venture outside the casino about 15 to 17 years ago.
“Although gaming is lucrative, it does have a shelf life,” McCafferty said. “As the gaming picture changes from time to time, the board of directors felt they needed to diversify.”
The companies employ tribal members, though non-tribal employees outnumber those of the tribe.
“The tribe’s a great place to work,” McCafferty said.
Many of the businesses existed in some form before the tribe bought them.
The Cow Creek Band purchased the 2,000-acre K-Bar Ranch near Myrtle Creek in 2001 and the 1,700-acre Rogue River Ranch near Medford in 2013. Since then, the properties have expanded and now include more than 4,000 head of cattle as well as alfalfa, wheat and sugar beet crops.
“The tribe’s always looking to diversify further and to make sure it continues with its programs so if one sector were to die off they’d have something to replace it,” McCafferty said.
In the past five years, the tribe has evaluated its businesses, sold some off and consolidated or closed others, including Rio Communications, Umpqua Indian Foods jerky business and Riverside Motel.
The Cow Creek Band restructured its graphic design business Creative Images and turned it into Anvil Northwest with a new print press.
The tribe is planning to roast its own coffee beans for the Truck and Travel Center and casino by the end of May.
Travis Hill, UIDC hospitality director, said the casino alone goes through 20,000 pounds of coffee beans each year.
“We basically decided it would be a profitable business for the tribe and we’d also be able to improve the quality of our product,” Hill said of roasting coffee.
The Cow Creek Band will use a coffee bean broker out of Seattle who sources beans from multiple regions.
Hill said the tribe has a couple other projects in the works, but they have yet to be disclosed.
“The tribe’s always looking at diversifying to be able to provide good jobs for the local community and provide jobs through tribal membership as well as additional services like healthcare and education,” Hill said.
Cow Creek is also involved in managing forestland and had proposed to be a partner with Lone Rock Timber Management in the purchase of the Elliott State Forest.
“As the tribe was looking at the challenges of funding elder care and education and health care for future generations, the Elliott was a clear effort on the part of the tribe to meet those challenges through sustainable balance of natural resource management,” said Tim Vredenburg, director of forest management for the tribe. “I think they’re looking toward the future as they’re trying to rebuild their homelands and restore their reservations.”