President’s Message – May 2019

The National Center has maintained a busy schedule over the month of May, which kicked off with our Native Edge Institute in Niagara Falls, New York. This was our first NEI in the Northeast, after successful stops across the West and in the Southeast. Our own Yvette Fielder has a full recap of the event, which was hosted by our friends at the Seneca Nation at their beautiful resort in Niagara Falls. Through just one event, we were able to reach 33% of our in-region client goal!

We’ll continue our Native Edge Institutes swing next month when we go to South Portland, Maine. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us for this great, one-day event focused on procurement and government contracting. NEI Maine will also have a new and unique focus on international business.

Cross-border trade has been one of my priorities over the last month. I recently accepted an invitation to speak at the Council of the Great Lakes Region’s Great Lakes Economic Forum, which took place in Cleveland. I spoke about the challenges and opportunities with cross-border and inter-tribal trade, and how trade works best when indigenous communities are brought in and consulted at the beginning of the process. After my speech, I had the opportunity to spread the National Center’s message to a new audience – the French language Radio-Canada. But don’t worry… the interview was in English!

I am very pleased to continue the conversation and relationship with the Council of the Great Lakes Region through a Memorandum of Understanding between our two organizations, which was announced shortly after the forum. Our two organizations will work together on ways to strengthen Indigenous trade, investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation across the Great Lakes Region, as well as focusing on building greater inter-tribal business and mobility across the border established by the United States and Canada. I’ll continue our work on this front in the coming weeks and months to make sure that we have a seat at the table when it comes international trade and direct foreign investments into the U.S.

Things don’t slow down from here. In addition to NEI Maine, we’ll be hosting a Business Plan Competition at UNITY’s annual conference, where two winning teams will each receive $1,500 in prizes. I hope to see you at one of these events or other National Center programming coming to a community near you!

Chris James,
President and CEO
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development

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