"Our mission is to provide economic prosperity for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe
by managing the Tribe’s businesses effectively, building new businesses prudently, and
investing its money wisely. We provide analysis and advice to the Tribal Council on
the Tribe’s businesses and financial affairs, and we provide the day to day executive
management of the Tribe’s business enterprises."
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is unique among Native American Indian Tribes.
The Tribe aggressively developed its extraordinary natural resource base
during the 1980s and 1990s. Tribal Council adopted an official Financial
Plan in 1999 that separated its core government from its business enterprises
and related investment activities. The Financial Plan provides the Tribe with
an economic strategy that insures that a core government and matching finances
will exist in perpetuity. The plan optimizes available investment resources
to provide for the long-term security of the Tribe and the Tribal Membership.
The cost of the government activities and services is funded by the Tribe’s Permanent Fund.
This endowment fund operates separately from the business and investment activities that are managed
by the Tribe’s Growth Fund.
The Tribe’s business portfolio originated with the formation of Red Willow Production
Company in 1992 and the purchase of Red Cedar Gathering Company in 1994.
Red Willow was originally formed to buy back natural gas leases and to
upgrade the performance of gas wells on the Reservation. However, Red Willow
could not convince local gathering companies to increase their capacity to
transport the Tribe’s new volumes of gas to the interstate pipelines. To solve
this problem, the Tribe partnered with the Stephens Group in 1994, and purchased
Red Cedar to gather, process and transport natural gas from the Reservation.
In accordance with the Financial Plan, the Tribal Council enacted the Growth Fund
Implementation Plan to create the Growth Fund in 2000. This plan clearly defines
the Growth Fund’s goals and systems of operation, and consolidates the management
of the Tribe’s business activities. The Growth Fund’s business portfolio initially
contained only Red Willow, Red Cedar and a few small Tribal Organizations: Department
of Energy, Utilities Division and the Sky Ute Fairgrounds.
Because the Tribe realized that its energy resources on the Reservation were finite,
Tribal Council instructed the Growth Fund to diversify operations off of the Reservation
and into other ventures and investments. Since 2001, Red Willow has expanded its
operations into nine states and the Gulf of Mexico, and Aka Energy was created to gather
and treat natural gas off of the Reservation.
In order to diversify outside of the energy sector, the Tribe established the Tierra Group
to manage the Tribe’s real estate portfolio. Later, GF Properties Group was formed and
Tierra folded under GF Properties which now manages the Tribe’s commercial/office, apartment,
industrial, hotel, mixed-use and master planned communities. GF Private Equity Group was
formed to invest in private equity funds and businesses.
The Growth Fund selects and manages its investments with the help of an outstanding
investment research and finance team, although each of the operating subsidiaries also
pursues investment opportunities within their respective industries. The investment
and finance team evaluates strategic growth opportunities and also provides support
for mergers, acquisitions and other types of investment and business transactions.
Today, the Tribe’s Growth Fund investments have increased significantly in value, measured
apart from the value of the Tribe’s land base, water, mineral and timber resources.
The Tribe’s debt obligations have been rated AAA by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch rating