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The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act and the Native American Business Incubators Act address many of the National Center’s longstanding priorities

March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the U.S. Senate passed important economic development legislation for tribes and Native entrepreneurs. The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act (S. 1116) focuses on improving economic opportunity and access to capital in Indian Country. The legislation, sponsored Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND), passed the committee last year. The Senate also passed the Native American Business Incubators Program Act (S. 607), introduced by Committee Vice Chairman Tom Udall (D-NM). The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development has long advocated for many of the provisions in both S. 1116 and S. 607. These bills will now head to the U.S. House, where similar legislation – the Jobs for Tribes Act – has been introduced by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA).

“We applaud the leadership of Chairman Hoeven and the Indian Affairs Committee to champion economic development legislation vital to Indian Country,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “The Indian Community Enhancement Act includes many of the National Center’s top priorities, including improving economic and community development programs, enhancing access to capital, and better interagency coordination and prioritization for Indian Country initiatives. We hope this important legislation soon becomes law.”

The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act amends several existing laws with the general focus of enhancing access to capital and improving economic opportunity in tribal communities. Specifically, S. 1116 updates and improves the Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism Act of 2000; the Buy Indian Act; and The Native American Programs Act of 1974. 

Highlights of the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act include:

  • Better interagency coordination between the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Treasury on Indian Country initiatives.

  • Elevating the Director for Indian programs to report directly to the Secretary of Commerce.

  • Promoting consultation on Securities and Exchange Commission regulations to move toward treating Indian tribes as accredited investors.

  • Studying the application of, and ways to enhance, various federal loan guarantee and other economic development programs and incentives to improve delivery to and support for Indian communities.

  • Improvements to and support for Native CDFIs.

  • Increasing Buy Indian Act procurements by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service and improve accountability.

  • Reauthorize the Native American Programs Act and enhance its socio-economic development grant program.

The Native American Business Incubators Program Act would create an annual $5 million competitive grant initiative within the Interior Department to establish or maintain business incubators that serve Native American communities.  “The National Center thanks Vice Chairman Udall for his commitment to Native American and Alaska Native businesses and entrepreneurs,” said James. “Finally establishing business incubators tailored to maximize the unique characteristics and capabilities of tribal and other native-owned business entities will help catalyze growth and success of economic development in Indian Country. We believe the Native American Business Incubators Program Act will have a positive impact on the economic vitality of our communities.”

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