The Cherokee Nation’s business arm on Wednesday announced its plan to increase starting wages for most hourly employees throughout every division within the company and its subsidiaries.

The tribally-owned company will raise its minimum wage to $11 an hour and expand the income of all eligible hourly employees, it said Wednesday during an announcement at CNB Engineering and Manufacturing in Stilwell.

“The increase will positively impact full-time staff currently earning between $9.50 and $12.50 per hour. CNB leaders expect more than 2,500 employees, including nearly 60 who work in Stilwell, to see an increase in hourly wages,” it said.

The wage increase will take effect Oct. 5, once the new fiscal year begins.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, District 7 Tribal Councilor Canaan Duncan, District 8 Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden and CNB Chief Executive Officer Chuck Garrett were on hand for the announcement.

“This new minimum wage allows CNB to continue driving local economies in northeast Oklahoma and create more quality jobs,” Hoskin said. “Costs of living in 2019 have increased, so it’s only fair that our minimum wage keep pace. We must give working men and women a fair, livable wage. This will put hundreds of extra dollars per year in the hands of CNB employees.”

CNB began evaluating its entry-level wages when Hoskin announced a wage increase for tribal employees last month.

“The employees of Cherokee Nation Businesses are the keys to our success,” said Chuck Garrett, chief executive officer for CNB.

“Their unmatched dedication allows us to continue growing our businesses and places CNB at the forefront of the industries we operate within. It is truly an honor to see our staff benefit from all the work they’ve put into that success,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Businesses employs more than 7,560 people in 47 states, 25 countries and two U.S. territories. It includes engineering, manufacturing, telecommunications and hospitality, including casinos, hotels, golf courses and restaurants.

“Cherokee Nation Businesses prides itself on being an employer of choice that offers attractive benefit packages and a plethora of career options, as well as competitive wages,” it said.

“I just can’t thank the employees enough for what they do here. Like Chief Hoskin said, long before casinos, long before the successful diversified businesses, there were Cherokees working here every day,” Shawn Crittenden said. “I’m really looking forward to working with this new administration, the council and this CEO. The only reason I do it is for these people here in Adair County. Let’s continue to do good work by all of us working together.”

As the holding company for the tribe’s for-profit businesses, CNB pays a direct dividend of 37 percent of its profits to the tribe for services such as housing, health care, education and social services. The remaining 63 percent is reinvested into growing jobs, wages, business development and special projects, such as new construction for health care facilities.

The company contributes significantly to Cherokee Nation’s $2.16 billion economic impact on northeast Oklahoma.

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