Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance
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Summit Sponsor Spotlight: Cherokee Nation

Published: Monday, October 2, 2017

Northeastern Oklahoma Regional Alliance (NORA) is a driver of economic development in a 14-county region through partnerships and community engagement. Individuals and corporations are invited to join the non-profit organization as a member, and attending the 9th Annual Summit, October 24 at Northeastern State University, is a perfect opportunity to get involved. The summit will focus on health as an economic development driver with speakers and workshops designed to help communities, businesses, and organizations discover how focusing on healthy practices can build a stronger northeast Oklahoma.
"I love seeing all the people and connecting with old and new friends," said NORA board secretary Anna Knight. "The annual summit has an excitement to it and the quality of the speakers and workshops is outstanding."
One of NORA's partners, the Cherokee Nation, believes in being a great community partner, said Knight, Executive Director of Cherokee Nation Commerce Services.
For Knight the partnership is important and she volunteers with the organization, because NORA is becoming more and more relevant to our rural communities as the state continues to struggle with budget issues.
"NORA is a great networking source for our communities, provides numerous leadership opportunities, develops the capacity of our communities and brings communities together to leverage resources to advance our region," said Knight.
Collaboration among communities and organizations is very important to move our region forward and the Cherokee Nation is proud to play a role in this collaborative effort, said Knight.
"NORA’s impact is significant as it unites our region toward a common goal and with a common voice," said Knight.
The NORA leadership training is a great program to develop and engage community leaders on a regional and statewide scale, she said.
"NORA is a great source of information regarding community best practices and data," said Knight, who recognizes  the groups' leadership for her role in the accomplishments to date.
The NORA Executive Director, Darla Heller, has added great value to NORA based on her regional rural development experience through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and her innovative spirit, said Knight.
"She has assisted many communities in making resource connections to implement community strategies and has gathered extensive information on the manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare workforces, including recommendations on how to increase workforce resource effectiveness," Knight said. 
The Cherokee Nation is a vital partner of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance, said Heller.
"It was the vision of Cherokee Nation leaders that led to the development of NORA and some nine years later the mission by which NORA was created is sustained and advanced by the Nation’s efforts throughout the region.”
The effectiveness of partnerships with NORA is due to common goals, said Knight.
"The Cherokee Nation is committed to improving the lives of Oklahomans and advancing our region as a community partner, a community resource and economic driver," she said.
Cherokee Nation directly employs more than 11,000 people and had an annual economic impact on northeastern Oklahoma in 2016 of more than $2.03 billion dollars, and Cherokee Nation’s impact continues to grow, she said.
"Recently the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price paid a two-day visit to the Cherokee Nation, which brought legislators, Tribal Chiefs, Indian Health Services directors and other key leaders to Tahlequah to network and share ideas to further benefit our people and services," Knight said.
A news conference was held by Secretary Price and Chief Bill John Baker to shares ways the Trump administration and the Cherokee Nation are fighting the overabundance of opioids and its harmful addiction, she said.
" The Cherokee Nation will continue working with the federal and state governments to express and collaborate on the challenges faced in northeastern Oklahoma," said Knight.
To register for the NORA Summit contact Darla Heller, Executive Director, P.O. Box 945, Tahlequah, OK 74464, Phone: (918) 772-8334, d.heller@neokregion.org and www.neokregion.org