President’s Message — December 2021

First of all, happy holidays to you and your loved ones. This past year has once again emphasized the importance of friends, family, and a support network that can help you weather stormy seas.

The end of the year is also a good time to take stock of the previous 12 months. Despite challenges, the National Center emerges from 2021 on a firm foundation that will support us in 2022. This is the same foundation that allows us to bring you the unparalleled programming and resources that can help you and your business reach new heights. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who made our success possible in 2021, and everyone who will surely be a part of our success in 2022.

One of our focus areas in 2021 was international trade, and in particular global indigenous trade. We are now the first Native American organization to operate a Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) export center, which we formally opened earlier this year. The Arizona MBDA Export Center will help local entrepreneurs enter, or expand their reach to, global markets. We are hosting regular webinars to provide you with up-to-date information on trade opportunities. We will also host an open house in the new year – stay tuned for details on both the webinars and open house.

We established new international partnerships in 2021, including with the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago. The National Center led the effort to produce a report that analyzed the opportunities for cross-border indigenous technology trade between Canadian First Nations and American tribes, as well as other businesses. It was the first of what we hope is an ongoing relationship between the indigenous people of our two countries, which already share such a unique and interconnected history.

Last month, I had the honor of joining the U.S. delegation to Expo 2020 in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The Expo – also known as the World’s Fair – was delayed a year due to COVID-19. I participated in several panels, where I shared a vision of global trade that is inclusive of indigenous peoples, whether they are in the South Pacific or the Arctic Circle. I firmly believe Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian businesses and entrepreneurs have a tremendous opportunity to broaden their horizons – and their markets – through trade.

The trip is already paying dividends. We plan to host our new connections from Canada and New Zealand in our upcoming Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Export Center webinars in 2022. I hope you tune in!

2022 will be a big year for the National Center. I hope you join us for the journey. On behalf of everyone at the National Center, please have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.

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

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