I hope this month’s newsletter finds each and every one of you healthy and prospering in your business and economic development pursuits! I would like to present you with a summary of happenings from our most recent Regional Reservation Economic Summit in Arizona (RES Arizona)!
I am pleased to report that RES Arizona was our most well attended Regional RES to date, with over 500 attendees. What does that mean? Our Regional RES’s are growing! “RES Arizona”, our third Regional RES, nearly doubled the attendance of our first Regional RES, “RES Oklahoma” – which took place less than one year ago. Networking activities began with the RES Arizona Golf Tournament sponsored by Chukchansi Inc. at the beautiful Whirlwind Golf Club. At RES Arizona we moved from two days of content, to three full days of business workshops, trainings, forums and networking opportunities. At RES Arizona we also proudly debuted our first, “Twenty Grand Business Plan Competition”, launched our first ever, “National Center Energy Forum” and held our first “Diversity Luncheon”. Our “Tribal Leaders Business Forum” was insightful, filled with a great Q & A session, was literally standing room only and was presented by the NOVA Corporation.
We are now just ten days away from presenting our third Regional Reservation Economic Summit, RES Arizona (RES Arizona). The National Center is pleased to present RES Arizona from the wonderful Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler, Arizona. Pre-registrations have already surpassed the record attendance of our last Regional RES event, RES California. We would like to thank our presenting sponsors, the Gila River Indian Community and Chukchansi, Inc. who have helped to ensure that RES Arizona is a tremendous success for all whom attend!
Each year, our National Reservation Economic Summit (National RES) in Las Vegas generates millions of dollars worth of business opportunities for Tribal Nations, Tribal Enterprises and Native American Small Businesses. We will continue to expand upon this great foundation by adding several additional nationally focused but “Regional” RES events, like RES Arizona, throughout each year in order to further increase economic opportunities across Indian Country.
The theme of RES Arizona is “Sustaining Economic Momentum”. We hope you are able to join us at RES Arizona, to engage and strategize with all of those in attendance on ways we can further empower our communities and people by “Sustaining Economic Momentum” – both domestically and globally.
I am pleased to announce that our RES Arizona Business Trade Show is sold out! RES Arizona attendees will have access to a variety of 34 different tribes, tribal enterprises, corporations, private businesses and organizations participating in our trade show.
We are also pleased to announce at RES Arizona, our first, “National Center Energy Forum”. Our Energy Forum will provide several roundtable sessions offering valuable insights from respected tribal leaders, energy professionals and representatives from Utilities such as Arizona Public Services, Salt River Project and Edison International. The Energy Forum roundtable sessions will address a variety of topics from Tribal Utility Development to Energy Investment Strategies and new IRS rulings. Participants will be able to share their thoughts and participate in Q&A opportunities with panelists in each session.
In addition to the networking events and opportunities, RES Arizona’s general and breakout sessions will feature some of the best speakers and trainers on a variety of contemporary and emerging topics; including finance, human resources, real estate investment, empowerment zones, and much more. I urge you to not miss out on any breakout session relevant to your personal or professional interests. The National Center hopes to see you at RES Arizona and that you have an incredible experience at our third Regional RES event. I look forward to meeting you all in person!
Tribal Economic Development: No Tribes Left Behind
By Gary Davis
President & CEO, The National Council for Native American Enterprise Development (NCAIED)
Many Americans have never been to a Native American reservation. They’re often geographically isolated and underdeveloped, perpetually left off the various lists of tourism destinations. With sparse and scattered populations, tribal governments have faced many obstacles in exploring economic development, including high unemployment and infrastructural deficiencies. This creates a cycle of poverty and dependence that has continued for decades.
To break this cycle, tribes have worked long and hard to solve their shared problems, taking action when possible to bring development resources to their reservations. Every step forward has been a step toward strengthening our institutions of tribal government and creating strong partnerships with other governments and business partners. These partnerships are important to our well-being as we move forward.
On occasion, tribal lands are close enough to a commercial hub that we can operate a successful casino, hotel, or conference center, but this is too often the exception to the rule. Most tribal communities face far harsher economic circumstances – our enrolled populations are too small and isolated, making land-based stores and businesses unsustainable. We are too far from population centers, making visitors from elsewhere unlikely. And for decades, we’ve existed without the major infrastructural investments needed to solve our recurring problems, creating cycles of poverty, unemployment, and economic depression. Tribal governments have struggled with ways to address our isolated locations; E-commerce has emerged as a very viable solution to reaching beyond these geographical limitations.
The NCAIED, the largest Indian-specific business organization in the nation, works to expand economic opportunities in Indian country. Nowhere has this expansion been more notable in recent years than in the growth of E-commerce as an economic sector with the potential to bring economic opportunity to even the most remote tribal lands and reservations.
The Internet has the potential to become the great equalizer across Indian Country since it transcends geography. However, with Internet access on reservation and tribal lands at only ten percent, we still have a long way to go. In spite of these obstacles, tribal governments have begun to develop sophisticated E-commerce ordinances and regulatory oversight for these new enterprises. This governmental activity is a breakthrough for tribal governments and creates an unquestionable opportunity that all of Indian Country can benefit from.
Without aggressively exploring opportunities such as E-commerce, the poverty cycle will continues to devastate our communities at a higher rate than any other. In 2010, the child poverty rate was 40 percent across Indian Country. Family poverty remains at 28 percent, compared to10 percent in the United States. NCAIED has, for more than 40 years, worked to assist tribal communities with these social problems by working to support tribal economic development. We have assisted American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development, taking our motto literally and “Putting Indian Country to Work.” This work improves the lives of Native Americans now and for generations to come.
As an example, many tribal governments are now engaged in exploring E-commerce via internet gaming and how it can expand their gaming footprint and overall customer demographic. Other tribal governments are exploring small-dollar, short-term online lending. These tribally-owned and operated businesses create jobs on the reservation while raising revenues for critical government programs and services. These online lending businesses are an example of tribes exercising their sovereignty and helping to build a better future for their communities.
Tribes today have become very sophisticated and understand that in order to advance and diversify their economic development pursuits, for the well being of generations to come, new approaches must be taken to generate sustainable revenue. Organizations like, the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA), have been created to advocate for best practices. As more tribal governments continue to find ways to overcome centuries of obstacles to economic development, it is clear that tribal engagement in exploring new global financial opportunities is critical, especially for tribal governments that have been left behind, until now. E-commerce stands to be a tremendous opportunity for tribal economic diversification and one that tribal governments can and should be immensely proud of.
The expansion of tribal economic development into various new sectors, literally, represents the NCAIED’s mission of, “Putting Indian Country To Work” – through creating jobs and economic development for our people. It also figuratively represents the NCAIED’s mission of putting visionary minds throughout Indian Country “to work” and encouraging a whole new generation of thinkers and doers who have the heart and the vision to achieve and pursue opportunity now… for the benefit of generations to come. That is what those who walked before us did, and what we must do, to ensure that no tribes will ever be left behind.
The NCAIED mission statement is to “develop and expand an American Indian private sector which employs Indian labor, increases the number of viable tribal and individual Indian businesses, and positively impacts and involves reservation communities, by establishing business relationships between Indian enterprises and private industry.” This mission statement and the work of NCAIED is most appropriately exemplified by the assistance provided to NativeVet Materiel LLC, a new Native American-owned medical supplier based in Albuquerque, NM, which has utilized two NCAIED components to place this new company in a very advantageous marketing position.
NativeVet Materiel LLC is a Native American-owned provider of products and supplies supporting facility maintenance, repair & operations, and medical needs. Timothy Chavez, Pueblo of Acoma, is the owner and CEO of this business venture. This company has formed strategic alliances with powerhouse suppliers in the facilities and medical industries, including Grainger, Aesculap, Anixter, GOJO and B. Braun Medical. It has utilized the NCAIED Reservation Economic Summit 2013 and the American Indian PTAC to develop critical business relationships in this highly competitive industry.
It was at Reservation Economic Summit 2013 that Mr. Chavez networked with Jonathan Ferguson, Small Business Specialist, US Department of Health and Human Services. After an in-depth presentation, Mr. Ferguson invited Mr. Chavez, along with four other companies nationwide, to participate in a special presentation and meeting with Indian Health Service agency directors in Washington, DC. “This opportunity with IHS opened the networking floodgates and helped me understand, at a very high level, what IHS needs from its suppliers,” Mr. Chavez stated.
On April 2, 2013, NativeVet attended the 3rd Annual Navajo Nation Business Opportunity Day in Window Rock, AZ. This event is sponsored by NCAIED American Indian PTAC based in Window Rock. Through the efforts of NACIED Program Manager George Williams and Procurement Specialists Cyndi Jarvison and Timothy Armijo, Mr. Chavez was introduced and met with the Navajo Nation Housing Authority and the Indian Health Service in Gallup, NM. “This event fostered relationship development with potential buyers. It afforded me the opportunity to introduce my new business, network with interested people, and ultimately set up follow-up meetings whereby I could explain the value and benefits in working with NativeVet,” Mr. Chavez said.
Taking the initiative, opportunistic marketing and utilizing NCAIED programs appears to be paying off for this new company. “We are days away from making our first sale,” said Mr. Chavez. “I knew going into this that business takes time to grow. The majority of the past four months has been spent educating buyers about NativeVet. I extend my appreciation to the NCAIED for providing the business environment and business services that helps Native-owned businesses grow and succeed.”
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) welcomes AT&T as its newest National Resource Council member! Pictured (L-R): AT&T Regional Vice President, Mr. Daniel Youmans and NCAIED President & CEO, Gary Davis. Thank you AT&T for your support and dedication to the mission of NCAIED and helping us Put Indian Country to Work!
For more information on the National Center’s National Resource Council - CLICK HERE!
Pictured (L-R): AT&T Regional Vice President, Mr. Daniel Youmans and NCAIED President & CEO, Gary Davis.