Roughly a year and a half after the groundbreaking, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe held a grand opening ceremony Wednesday, June 24 for the Southern Ute Growth Fund’s new three-story 48,269 sq. ft. building.
“On time and under budget,” Bob Zahradnik, Growth Fund operating director said about the completion of the building. “We’ve come a long way and this building is tangible and visible representation of some of the distance covered.”
The new building, located just north of the old Growth Fund Building, houses over one hundred employees. Employees recently moved into the building after being temporarily stationed in Durango offices due to overcrowding in the old building.
“I remember when we moved into the old building in 2005 … we quickly out grew that,” Darrell Owen, Southern Ute Growth Fund finance director said.
The old building now houses the Southern Ute Growth Fund’s natural gas production company, Red Willow.
Tribal Council offered welcoming statements at the ceremony.
“It’s just a structure,” Tribal Councilman Alex S. Cloud said about the new building. “What makes it strong is the internal.”
“The building is really an extension of who we are and what we are doing as a tribe,” James M. Olguin, Southern Ute Treasurer said. “From the member’s aspect it’s an investment.”
Tribal Council Lady Ramona Y. Eagle also said it’s important to recognize past leaders and past tribal members for their vision and hard work.
“Thank you to the past council’s for having dreams of having a Growth Fund for the tribe,” she said.
Bruce Valdez Executive Director of the Growth Fund also offered thanks to past leaders who never got the chance to see the tribe’s present day success.
“I want to thank all our ancestors that sacrificed for us to be here today.”
The grand opening ended with tours of the building. Visitors were able to tour the building and view the Ute art pieces that decorate its hallways.
“I would like to thank the Art Committee, Lorelei Cloud and Adam Red. These guys put in a lot of time selecting, acquiring and displaying the art that is in the building,” Zahradnik said.
The Ute art in the building ranges from paintings, drawings, beadwork, photographs, sculptures and other additional crafts.
Tribal elder, Benda Watts commented on the new building and the art.
“The building is beautiful, I’m glad that they built this, it’s for us and things that they do for the tribal members,” she said. “The art was very good and traditional.”