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Bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Norma Torres and Tom Cole would boost the economies of Native American tribes and Alaska Native communities

May 8, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, H.R. 4506, the “Jobs for Tribes Act,” advanced unanimously through the House Natural Resources Committee. This bipartisan legislation will provide critical business and economic development assistance to Native American tribes and Alaska Native communities. The bill incorporates provisions similar to two bills already approved by the Senate: The Native American Business Incubators Act (S. 607) and the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act (S.1116). The National Center for American Indian Development (National Center) championed this key legislation along with the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Contractors Association, United South and Eastern Tribes, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and Coalition of Large Tribes. H.R. 4506 was introduced by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) with Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) as the lead co-sponsor.

“Committee passage of the Jobs for Tribes Act is a huge step to achieve long-sought federal reforms and support for Indian Country,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “This legislation would strengthen the focus on and investment in Native American and Alaska Native initiatives across multiple federal agencies. We thank Reps. Torres and Cole for their tireless and unceasing work on this legislation, and strong commitment to advancing economic development in Native communities across the United States. We urge the full House to pass the legislation promptly to pave the way to its enactment into law as soon as possible.”

The Jobs for Tribes Act would create and enhance a variety of economic development tools and resources, many of which have long been priorities of the National Center, including:

  • Elevating and funding the Department of Commerce’s Office of Native American Business Development

  • Expanding the Buy Indian Act within the Departments of Interior and Health and Human Services, and requiring more reporting to ensure its full implementation

  • Reauthorizing the Native American Programs Act

  • Promoting investments in Indian Country through federal loan guarantee programs and the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s programs

  • Establishing a grant program within the Department of Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to develop and operate business incubators that serve Native American communities and businesses

In addition, the legislation requires the development of a strategy for the promotion and/or facilitation of increased commerce between Native American tribes and indigenous peoples of the Western hemisphere. Joining Reps. Torres and Cole on the legislation are Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Ron Kind (D-WI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Tom O‘Halleran (D-AZ), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Greg Meeks (D-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Rep. Torres was honored with the National Center’s Congressional Achievement Award at this year’s Reservation Economic Summit, in part because of her work on the Jobs for Tribes Act.

About The National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people- both now… and for generations to come.

CONTACT: Lewis Lowe, 202-333-2234 lewisl@strategies360.com