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National Center Board Chairman testifies at House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs hearing on key economic development legislation

January 17, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Derrick Watchman, Board Chairman for the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, testified before the House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs this afternoon. He offered his support for and feedback on the Jobs for Tribes Act, which is legislation that will provide critical business and economic development assistance to Native American tribes and Alaska Native communities. H.R. 4506, which was introduced in December by Reps. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK), is similar to two bills approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee: The Native American Business Incubators Act (S. 607) and the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act (S.1116). Joining Chairman Watchman at the hearing were Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Bryan Rice and Chairman Nathan Small of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe in Idaho.

“I commend the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs for moving quickly to hold a hearing on the Jobs for Tribes Act,” said Watchman. “This is important legislation that addresses many of the National Center’s economic development priorities for tribes and Native entrepreneurs. I hope the full committee will soon consider and pass this legislation, and work with its Senate counterpart to ensure these critical economic development measures become law.”

This 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. These include:

  • 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

    “We thank our Board Chairman Derrick Watchman for representing the National Center’s views on this important legislation, and thank the Subcommittee for holding today’s hearing,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “We are thrilled to see quick progress on the Jobs for Tribes Act, which could be a game-changer in economic development for tribes and Native entrepreneurs if enacted into law. Today is just a step in this long process, but it’s a very important step to make the Jobs for Tribes Act a reality.”

    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 as co-sponsors of the legislation are full Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom O‘Halleran (D-AZ), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Also supporting the Jobs for Tribes Act are the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Contractors Association, Native American Finance Officers Association, United South and Eastern Tribes, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Coalition of Large Tribes.

    The hearing, along with Chairman Watchman’s testimony, will be archived and available

    National Center Board Chairman Derrick Watchman discusses the Jobs for Tribes Act with Subcommittee Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) following today’s hearing

    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