Economic Development

To encourage a healthy, diverse economy on the Qualla Boundary and in westernmost North Carolina that is based on a strong technology infrastructure, a future-ready work force, entrepreneurial small businesses, and authentic and exciting cultural tourism attractions.

Major Programs & Initiatives

Financial Literacy

When Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel arrived in Cherokee in 1997, with it came opportunity and resources. A special challenge emerged with the establishment of the Minors Trust Fund, which provides for every Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) member to, at birth, begin receiving annual payments that are released in a lump sum as early as the age of 18. It quickly became clear there was a need for learning about money management so that the funds would be used wisely.

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Tourism is a principal driver of the economy on the Qualla Boundary, even as economic diversification takes place. Cherokee Preservation Foundation has invested $17 million over the past decade to help the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians continually improve the Tribe’s principal cultural attractions, mount an award-winning marketing campaign to attract visitors interested in experiencing authentic Cherokee culture, and improve the marketing capacity of the organizations.

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Downtown Revitalization

With cultural tourism key to the Qualla Boundary’s economic future, Cherokee Preservation Foundation has been working with the Eastern Band of Indians (EBCI) Planning and Development Office to renovate the downtown and retail areas of Cherokee, NC, so they have a more traditional village appearance and visual appeal.

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STEM in the Schools

Cherokee Preservation Foundation has provided more than $1.75 million to support the construction of a dedicated broadband connection, WNC EdNet, that brings together 60 educational sites — primarily public schools, colleges and administrative offices — around the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary.

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Innovative small businesses in newer and emerging industry sectors will increasingly be the lifeblood of the economy in western North Carolina. That’s why Cherokee Preservation Foundation helped the Tribe’s community development corporation go through the rigorous process to become a community financial development institution (CDFI) that has received funding from the Foundation, the Tribal government and various agencies of the federal government. The CDFI is now known as the Sequoyah Fund.

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