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Passage of Native American Business Incubators Act is an Important Step for Native Entrepreneurship Bill now headed to President’s desk for signature into law

September 23, 2020 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) cheered House passage of S. 294, the ‘Native American Business Incubators Program Act.’ The legislation would not have been possible without the sponsorship of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs’ Vice Chairman Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Tom Cole (R-OK), and Norma Torres (D-CA) in the House. The measure provides funds to establish incubator programs targeted specifically at Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act, sponsored by Senator Tester when he chaired the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, first passed the Senate in 2018. Vice Chairman Udall reintroduced the bill and championed its Senate passage in 2019. With leadership from Rep. Haaland and House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Chairman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), the House passed the legislation earlier this week. It now goes to President Trump’s desk for signature. The National Center helped develop the original provisions and has worked on this legislation’s advancement for nearly a decade, including testifying in favor of its passage before key Congressional committees and galvanizing support with other Indian Country organizations. “The National Center thanks Vice Chair Udall, Congresswoman Haaland, and the leaders who have championed this critical pro-business legislation for many years,” said National Center President and CEO Chris James. “Our community has long needed incubator programs tailored to serve the unique needs of Native American and Alaska Native businesses. The Native American Business Incubators Program will begin to provide new opportunities for our very talented entrepreneurs. It is now essential that Congress appropriate the funding to implement this critically important program, especially to help Native businesses recover from setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic.” The bill authorizes $5 million annually through 2024 for the Department of the Interior to provide grants to Tribes, Tribal colleges or universities, higher education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to start business incubators focused on helping Native entrepreneurs establish and grow Native-owned small businesses. The business incubators will provide Native entrepreneurs with professional networking opportunities and assistance developing business plans, navigating federal, Tribal and state regulations, and drawing outside investors. A summary of the bill from Senator Udall’s office can be found here. “Native entrepreneurs and businesses face tremendous difficulty in getting off the ground and established in Indian Country,” said National Center Board Chairman Derrick Watchman, “These incubators will help our future business leaders access capital, close gaps that have left Native entrepreneurs behind including access to high-speed internet, and familiarize a new class of Native entrepreneurs with regulation and government at all levels.”

About the National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 50 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – The National Center has evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation serving over 500 clients and providing over $4 million in contracts to its clients. The National Center has nine offices throughout the nation with its home office located in Mesa, Arizona. The National Center is 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, lewisl@strategies360.com or 706-302-8404