Winnebago Tribal leaders founded Ho-Chunk, Inc. in 1994 with $9 million in casino profits and a single employee Lance Morgan; a Harvard educated attorney and a Winnebago Tribal member.
While the corporation started with passive investments to build an investment portfolio, the need for Tribal member job opportunities required the company to build viable business enterprises on the Reservation. Those initial companies focused on areas that could create employment. Initial business enterprises included wholesale distribution, retail, e-commerce and construction.
Although Ho-Chunk, Inc. received its initial financing from the Tribe’s gaming income, no further tribal funding became available to the young company in its early years. This became a turning point for the corporation. This “make or break” experience helped mold Ho- Chunk, Inc. into an innovative and aggressive entity committed to developing new revenue streams for the Tribe.
The early success of Ho-Chunk, Inc. in developing viable business enterprises and job opportunities earned the company national recognition. Under Morgan’s leadership, Ho-Chunk, Inc. has been honored for its visionary economic and community development by a variety of national organizations including Harvard University, the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Through the continuing leadership of Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk, Inc. CEO, the company has grown its capabilities and success on a national stage and has been equally successful abroad. Corporate executive management is 100% Native American with masters’ level degrees and an unrelenting desire to succeed on behalf of the Winnebago Tribe.
Ho-Chunk, Inc. has grown diverse skill sets to serve a multitude of industries and governmental agencies. That capability portfolio has been built by recruitment of subject matter experts and extensive training and educational programs within the corporation. Those capabilities have led to an unusual and diverse past performance record.
Additionally, CEO Lance Morgan has been invited to testify before Congress on a variety of issues affecting Indian Country, from the internet, to government contracting, to economic development. Morgan has been recognized for his years of advocacy by both state and national organizations including the White House.
Morgan and other Ho-Chunk, Inc. executives have traveled the country providing tribal consultation and training in areas of economic development, government contracting and other issues important to tribal community development. With other tribal leaders and Native organizations, Ho-Chunk, Inc.is also actively working to protect the rights and sovereignty of all federally recognized Tribes. These important rights have to be protected to ensure that Native people throughout the United States are able to have the same opportunities for a better way of life as do their non-Native counterparts.