PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribe might soon be the manager of a combined agricultural and solar project.
Team Gemini, a Florida company that is considering the establishment of a “renewable energy cluster” somewhere in the Southeast, is considering the tribe as a management partner once the facility is built. The proposed project includes building greenhouses and putting solar panels in the air above them to provide solar energy to be generated back to the grid for sale to power companies.
“This project includes high production greenhouses,” Doug Haughn, Team Gemini’s chief financial officer, said Thursday. “In addition to construction jobs, a lot of labor jobs will be created after construction.”
Haughn said the tribe is being considered as a management partner, and is not being asked to invest money in the venture. A management agreement with the tribe could lead to part ownership in the project, and some input in helping team Gemini decide where the project should be located so it benefits the largest number of community members.
According to a statement from the tribe, Team Gemini and the Lumbee Tribe have created Red Road LLC to jointly manage the project.
“The mission of Red Road is to universally benefit the Lumbee people by pursuing economic opportunities compatible with Team Gemini Technologies,” the two parties stated.
They also stated that Red Road is “committed to the advancement of the Lumbee people by creating partnerships to facilitate business growth, research and technological endeavors, and creating educational and job creation opportunities through private sector stimulus in the Lumbee territory and throughout Indian Country.”
Haughn said a feasibility study for the project, authorized by the Lumbee Tribal Council last year, has been completed. He and Bob Sanders, director of business development for the construction management firm Manhattan Construction, met in closed session Thursday with Tribal Council members to update them on the project.
Perlean Revels, the council’s speaker, said the meeting with Haughn and Sanders was just for information. No action was taken by the council, she said.
Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks said his role includes working to advance business and educational opportunities for tribal members.
“As tribal chairman, I am committed to the advancement of the Lumbee people by creating partnerships — such as Red Road — to grow business, as well as educational opportunities, that bring jobs to stimulate the Lumbee economy,” he said.