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The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has launched a new pipe manufacturing business, aiming to both spur its workforce development efforts and bring the first permanent enterprise to the Tribe’s Iron Horse Industrial Park in Shawnee, Oklahoma.   

With the announcement last week, Sovereign Pipe Technologies (SPT) will become the first permanent tenant in the industrial park, which serves as a foreign trade zone, manufacturing, and transportation hub under CPN’s ownership.

The Tribe hopes to recruit other businesses to the park by highlighting Sovereign Pipe Technologies as an example of potential success, according to CPN director of economic development James Collard, Ph.D. 

“CPN continues to diversify the local economy and create well-paying jobs,” Collard said in a statement. “We hope the success of SPT will demonstrate the unique offerings of Iron Horse Industrial Park and attract other tenants.” 

General Manager and CEO Ronnie Wear told Tribal Business News that SPT was a way to bring a business into Iron Horse that “aligned with tribal values” with regards to energy consumption and waste production. 

“One of the businesses that made sense for our green initiative was a plastic pipe manufacturing facility, which fits that mold in terms of utilizing a product that recycles everything that you produce in it,” Wear said. “It basically utilizes clean energy in terms of the way we have a closed-loop water chilled system that we use in our process here. We're very cognizant of our energy consumption — that lent itself to being a very good business model for the tribe.”

Sovereign Pipe Technologies will manufacture high-density polyethylene piping for industrial applications, targeting industries such as oil and gas, municipal, and geothermal enterprises. The 45,000-square foot facility will commence production in the next 60 days, bringing with it the creation of 45 new local jobs.

Wear said those jobs range from general warehousing and manufacturing all the way to engineering and leadership positions. SPT hopes to attract a broad array of new employees to the new manufacturing enterprise, which should have a multiplier effect on the community, Wear said.

“Manufacturing has a return-on-investment per position that equates to four or five additional jobs outside of just that one position (we are filling),” Wear said. “When we look at the magnitude of building our tax base and creating new opportunities within Pottawatomie County, that’s the real reach and impact of these 45 jobs here.” 

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The data bears that out: according to a 2021 report from economic development firm Camoin Associates, each single manufacturing job typically creates roughly nine new jobs in the wider, national economy, placing the manufacturing industry as one of the highest employment multipliers out there. 

Wear called the facility launch a “chance for employees to be part of something new and original.”

“The tribe’s innovative thinking is making business more accessible in Oklahoma, and we look forward to leaning into this exciting endeavor,” Wear said in a statement.

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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