The “Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs” list serves to elevate awareness of the innovation, professionalism, competence and tenacity demonstrated by Native entrepreneurs across Indian Country. Native Business is rolling out profiles of these 50 Native entrepreneurs online, in no particular hierarchy, to document and memorialize their innovation and self-determination. The inaugural class of the Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs recognizes leaders across 13 business sectors, demonstrating the diversity of industries where Natives are making an impact. Among the entrepreneurs recognized in our Consulting sector is Michell Hicks, Founder of Chief Strategy Group, Inc.
Michell A. Hicks, the former principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in North Carolina, has embarked on his latest venture. Chief Strategy Group, Inc., continues his journey with his wife Marsha and an all-Native team on hand. The three-term principal chief of the EBCI, Hicks continues to use his business skills to support other Tribal economic development.
The firm works with Tribes across the U.S. on projects ranging from community assessments, project management and strategic planning to working with a Tribe to address its opioid epidemic. “We’re reaching out in many different areas within Tribes to support them in meeting their needs,” Hicks says.
Chief Strategy Group also has expertise in business relationship building; developing and executing financial plans; expanding business opportunities; infrastructure planning and development; and grant planning and implementation, according to its website.
“I’m very proud of the fact that our entire team of 12 associates is Native,” Hicks says. “We have seven different Tribes represented within the pool of associates.”
Hicks recently embarked on a new initiative. Gen 7 Healthcare positions Tribes to leverage their sovereignty to manage health care services. “We created a business model for the Eastern Band to own its health care,” Hicks says. “We relied on the Indian Health Service (IHS) for our needs, but IHS has limitation.”
The new initiative allows the Tribe to take ownership by contracting out services and managing its own billing. “We’re using the revenue base to grow health care as bigger companies pull out of rural areas,” he says. “The feds won’t fix this situation, but we can.”
Hicks plans to eventually serve off-reservation communities in Western North Carolina. “Think about the level of health care that we can begin to provide to our people,” Hicks says. “It could be absolutely amazing.”
Whether the task is small or encompasses an entire Native community, Hicks says he’s up to the challenge.
“We just want to be part of solutions for Tribes.”