March 22, 2020
To Our Friends and Partners-
After we concluded one of our most successful Reservation Economic Summits, RES 2020, many of us returned to a much different reality than when we left for Las Vegas. Over the last several weeks, COVID-19 has upended nearly every facet of our lives – from how we interact with each other, conduct our businesses, go about our daily routines, and most importantly, how we keep ourselves and our family safe. This is particularly true for Indian Country, especially for tribes with large scale gaming, tourism, and hospitality assets. When people are unwilling or unable to travel and gather in large groups, our community suffers.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted the National Center’s operations. We are doggedly working to meet our mission of advancing the business interests of Indian Country but conducting more of our core functions remotely. We also had to postpone at least two of our upcoming Native Edge Institutes – in April in Spokane, Washington and May in Connecticut. We will keep you posted on new dates and any make-up plans as soon as they are available.
The National Center and our staff are here to serve as a resource for you, your tribe, or your business during this national crisis. As you may be aware, Congress has now passed two emergency bills to address COVID-19. While the first focused on increasing resources for the immediate and growing public health crisis, the second was signed into law on Wednesday to addresses paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, and free testing for COVID-19. Congress is currently working on a third legislative relief package that could be up to $1 trillion and include direct relief for individuals and businesses hit particularly hard by the impact of COVID-19.
Through coordinating calls and joint letters, we have worked with Indian Country partners to develop proposals and strategies that will ensure that the relief package contains provisions specifically targeted to assist Tribal governments, Tribal enterprises, tribal member-owned companies, Native CDFIs, and our tribal communities generally in getting through the health and economic challenges ahead. We will continue this work as long as the crisis affects tribes and tribal businesses.
There are many questions surrounding how these new laws and evolving relief proposals will impact businesses, and particularly federal contractors in Indian Country and beyond. We want you to know that we are here for you during this time and will do our best to answer your questions, or at the very least, point you in the right direction. While everyone is trying to come to grips with how this virus crisis could affect us, the National Center would like to provide you with some helpful resources to get you through the process.
· The Small Business Administration has a COVID-19 page set up for small businesses to access information about how the agency can help during the crisis. Many states have been made eligible for disaster loans related to the current national emergency. Please use SBA as a resource to determine if you are eligible for this assistance.
· There are many questions about what the COVID-19 means for federal contractors that may be unable to work in the middle of this crisis. Our Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) clients should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. You can also learn more about the impact and what we know right now through this helpful webinar, archived here.
· Our friends at the National Indian Gaming Association are a great resource for tribes in the gaming sector. For more information, you should read the letter from Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., who also serves on the National Center’s Board of Directors.
· For tribes and Native-owned businesses acutely affected by the downturn in tourism and travel, I would encourage you to fill out this survey being conducted by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. It is important that we get a full accounting of how this crisis is impacting Indian Country so that the appropriate resources can be better targeted to provide needed relief.
· The National Congress of American Indians has a great COVID-19 resource page with links and information to all things related the current pandemic.
· Our partners at Piliero Mazza have a very helpful guide for employers that understandably have a lot of questions about the new requirements for paid family and sick leave. Piliero Mazza attorney Nicole Atallah was a speaker at our recent Native Edge Institute in Washington, DC and is a go-to resource for employment law questions, particularly as it pertains to tribal entities.
Uncertainty appears to be the only certainty during these times. But I know that we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more unified than ever. We will continue to keep you updated with the best information available, and continue to be a resource as we grapple with the effects of COVID-19. We are currently working on new, remote programming to offer you a resource as you determine the best steps for your business. If you need to get in touch with the National Center for any reason, please email us at email@example.com.
We hope that you and your family are safe and secure. The one silver lining in these trying times is that it’s a good opportunity to take stock of what really matters – our family and friends, our community, and our ability and resolve to conquer any challenge that comes before us.
President and CEO The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development