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President’s Message – April 2024

Happy spring!

I am blown away by the success of the 2024 Reservation Economic Summit. We had a record turnout for our 38th annual gathering, with more than 4,600 people registering for RES. You could feel their energy throughout the week and in every corner of Caesars Palace, from the trade show floor to the rooms that featured more than 100 breakout sessions, from the artisan market to the Omnia Nightclub that hosted our fashion show, and the main stage to the conference halls where dozens of suppliers and buyers connected at the Business Matchmaking event. No matter where you went, the strength found in unity was on full display.

The lineup of speakers at RES 2024 was incredible. We heard from Cabinet-level officials in Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, and Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. Though she couldn’t be there in person due to the Congressional workweek, Alaska Representative Mary Peltola joined me for an interview that took place just before RES started.

Renowned chef Sean Sherman joined us once again, just after he was on the cover and the feature story for the latest edition of NC Magazine. Actor Mo Brings Plenty, model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse, and rising actress Amber Midthunder were front and center for fireside chats. Nike N7 athletes shared how their experience as athletes has helped in them in business during a panel moderated by Kathy Baird of the Washington Post. And of course, we celebrated the incredible class of 2024 Native American 40 Under 40 award recipients.

I am truly humbled and honored by all of the people who made RES such a success – the team at The National Center, our contractors, speakers, presenters, and the thousands who made the journey to Las Vegas for unforgettable days. I know I am inspired and motivated for the work The National Center does year-round to support tribal and Native-owned business enterprises.

If you weren’t able to attend RES, there was some great media coverage of the event. Savannah Maher from the public radio show Marketplace was at RES all week and filed a story on her experience at the Buy Native Matchmaking expo. Tribal Business News has an extensive roundup of RES, including some of the major funding announcements that were made in conjunction with RES. Native America Calling broadcasted live from the Trade Show floor throughout the week. And of course, we will be sharing many of the speeches and fireside chats from RES in the coming weeks.

Though RES has ended, our work has not. In the next month and a half alone we will host three virtual Trade Talks and an in-person Native Edge Institute in Bethlehem, PA. To learn more and register, please visit our events page. We are also currently conducting a survey on access to capital. The survey will help us better tailor our programming – and also give you the chance to win big prizes, including free RES 2025 registrations, round trip Alaska Airlines tickets, and Amazon gift cards. I hope you take a few minutes to share your thoughts.

Thank you for your continued support of The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

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