Annual First American Leadership Awards event honors Indian business leaders

FORT MCDOWELL YAVAPAI NATION, Ariz. – On June 13, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presented a series of awards at the 14th annual First American Leadership Awards fundraising event. The event was presented by NCAIED and co-sponsored by Raytheon Co. John D. Harris II, Mashpee Wampanoag and the vice president of contracts and supply chain management of Raytheon, chaired the fundraising dinner.

NCAIED is the first nonprofit corporation created and directed by American Indians that is dedicated to developing and expanding Native economic self-sufficiency through business ownership. It also works to develop Indian businesses that positively contribute to Indian communities and that employ American Indians. The mission of NCAIED is to establish and maintain business relationships between Indian organizations enterprises and private industry.

FALA is an annual event that honors the accomplishments and contributions made by American Indians and those who support Indian economic development and business endeavors. This year, the event was held at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort and Casino, located on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Gloria Lowrie, president and owner of PACE Pacific Corp., was honored with the First American Entrepreneurship Award. She was acknowledged for her outstanding leadership as an American Indian business owner and for PACE’s contributions to Native communities. Lowrie is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians and was born in Minneapolis. She is currently a board member of the America Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona and the Associated Minority Contractors of America.

Phoenix-based PACE is a general contracting/construction management firm that provides pre-construction, design build, general construction and architectural services. The firm specializes in new buildings, renovations, modular buildings, roadwork and concrete projects, all ranging from $500,000 to $18 million per project. For more than 17 years, PACE Pacific has taken pride in building for American Indian communities. PACE employs almost 140 employees and was named in 2006 by The Business Journal as one of the top 25 fastest-growing private construction firms in Arizona; a top five female-owned business in Arizona; and a top 10 minority-owned firm in Arizona.

PACE has a commendable construction portfolio, completing projects for Arizona State University; the University of Arizona; Northern Arizona University; the state of Arizona; and the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa. PACE has also completed projects for neighboring Native communities such as the medical facilities and administration offices for the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe, a recreational facility for the Ak-Chin Indian Community, a Boys and Girls Club for the Gila River Indian Community, 40 low-rent units for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Tribe and the Fort Mojave Indian Tribal Heath Service Center. PACE also completed a recreation center for the Tohono O’odham Nation.

PACE is also a co-contractor for the construction of the first casino for the Navajo Nation, which will be located in Church Rock, N.M. Recently, PACE began constructing the Ch’ooshgai Community School in Tohatchi, N.M., on the Navajo Nation. This project will include a 33,000-square-foot dormitory that will house at least 150 students. The state-of-the-art facility will include living room quarters, new counselor’s offices, a plaza entry, a new parking lot, landscaping and a basketball court.

Other recent projects that are under way are the construction of 111 new homes for two districts of the Gila River Indian community; the renovation to the shopping plaza in Sells, on the Tohono O’odham Nation, which will include 13 new tenant spaces, a playground and new parking lot; and the construction of a state-of-the-art, 26,673-square-foot adult and juvenile detention and rehabilitation facility on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation that will include skylights, a touch screen control system, and an advanced intercom/security system.

Several other Native individuals and organizations were also recognized at PALA 2008. The First American Tribal Leadership Award was awarded to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. The First American Tribal Visionary Award was awarded to Southern Ute Chairman Clement Frost. The First American Public Advocate Award was presented to John Echohawk, Pawnee, of the Native American Rights Fund. Glen Reeves, manager of Salt River Project’s power generation, accepted the award of First American Corporate Advocate Award on behalf of SRP.