The head of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians received a special honor this week for his contributions and service to the communities of the San Gorgonio Pass.
Tribal Chairman Robert Martin was given the "Excellence in Leadership" award by the Banning Chamber of Commerce, at a dinner Thursday night, representatives for the tribe said.
"For 25 years, Chairman Robert Martin has been a proven leader in economic development, job creation and philanthropy in the San Gorgonio Pass," said Art Welch, president of the Banning Chamber of Commerce. "Under Chairman Martin’s steady leadership, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has strengthened our local economy, our local businesses and our community. We are delighted to be recognizing Chairman Martin with our Excellence in Leadership Award."
Martin was responsible for overseeing the development of the original Casino Morongo, along with the newer, renovated $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, according to tribe spokesman Michael Fisher.
What's more, Fisher says, under Martin's leadership the tribe contributes more than $1 million annually to support communities and non-profit organizations across the San Gorgonio Pass and the region, from Pass area food kitchens to local youth athletics and local schools.
"The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has led the region in economic development, generating thousands of new local jobs and nearly $3 billion in annual economic activity in a wide variety of industries," Fisher said.
Humbled by the award, Martin said he is proud of the work he's been able to do in our local communities.
“I deeply appreciate this wonderful honor from the Banning Chamber of Commerce," he said. "As Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, I take great pride in our tribe’s partnerships with the Banning Chamber of Commerce, the City of Banning and all of the elected leaders of our region as we all work together to create new opportunities for the residents and businesses of the San Gorgonio Pass."
Among those in attendance to support Martin on Thursday night were: U.S. Congresswoman MaryBono Mack, Congressman Joe Baca, California state Senator Bill Emmerson, state Assembly members Brian Nestande and Paul Cook, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley and Banning Mayor Don Robinson.