Osage Nation business entities turn over profits but not dividends

Beneath the Osage Nation, three Limited Liability Companies exist to provide jobs for Osage Nation members and pay dividends back to the Nation.

Osage, LLC; ONES, LLC; and Osage Nation Ranch, LLC, have all succeeded in providing jobs but, thus far, no dividend payments have been made. Dividends are money paid regularly, or sometimes quarterly, by a company to its shareholders out of its profits.

“Within the law it states that they are to pay dividends to the Nation,” said Osage Congresswoman Paula Stabler on a phone call.

Stabler said the businesses have been given a grace period over the past three years while they stabilize, restructured, and started drawing revenue.

While the Osage Nation oversees other revenue-based programs such as the Visitor’s Center, Osage Tax Commission, the Butcher House, and the clinic, the three LLCs operate differently. Stabler explained that the LLCs are independent, wholly-owned entities of the Osage Nation but they do not operate under the government. Congress has oversight and the Chief makes appointments to the boards, which Congress approves.

“I think we’ve turned the corner and we are looking for exponential growth in the next six months,” said Paul Yates, President of ONES, in a phone call. “We have hustled and hustled and knocked on doors.”                                                                    

ONES, doing business as Osage Nation Environmental Services, has two main lines of business: commercial work for clients like tribal governments and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and federal contracting as an Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise (ISBEE) and SBA certified 8(a)/HUBZone company. ONES currently operates with four employees but plans to expand to 30 employees by the end of November. Yates said they are making a profit and have not received any appropriations from Congress.

“We started with $4,000 in the bank,” Yates said. “And now we have $440,000 going through the bank every month.”

Yates said a large portion of the revenue from contracts goes to payroll and, as they grow, they must build cash reserves to cover payroll going into new contracts.

Yates expects dividend payments will be made available shortly, once ONES has budgeted cash reserves so they can grow and operate without asking for appropriations.