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December 8, 2021

MEZA, AZ — Yesterday, U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman named Chris James, CEO and President of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) to serve on the reconvened Council on Underserved Communities (CUC). Under newly appointed Chair John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder and Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, the CUC will work to further the equity priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration by making programmatic and policy recommendations to Administrator Guzman to increase access and opportunity across SBA’s programs and initiatives to help level the playing field for all of America’s entrepreneurs. With the organization’s focus on serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian small business owners, the National Center is uniquely positioned to help the SBA in achieving its equity goals and deepening its relationships with entrepreneurs within the Native community.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to represent The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and the communities we serve on the Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities,” said National Center CEO and President Chris James. “Administrator Guzman should be commended for reconvening this vital council that will help ensure equity in programs crucial to the success of America’s underserved communities, including American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian small business owners. By focusing on equitable access to SBA programs and services, the Council will help ensure that all small business owners are provided the tools they need to succeed. I look forward to working with Administrator Guzman, Chairman Rogers, and other council members on this important issue.”

“I look forward to relaunching the CUC and working with Chairman John Rogers, The National Center CEO and President Chris James, and our other newly-appointed members to support President Biden’s commitment to equity as we build our economy back better,” said Administrator Guzman. “An economic recovery for all of us means that we must do everything we can to help all of our small business and innovative startups emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient.  And SBA is committed to ensuring our underserved entrepreneurs can access capital, markets and networks to grow their businesses.”

Drawing from the nation’s most diverse and accomplished small business owners, community leaders, and advocates, Administrator Guzman’s CUC membership represents the voices and interests of America’s diverse small business owners, including those in disadvantaged groups such as women and communities of color. Together, the CUC’s members will work to promote public investment and policy formation to address the barriers facing underserved small businesses.

The National Center is already working on behalf of Native Entrepreneurs, including:

  • Providing no-cost professional business consulting and technical assistance to more than 1,100 clients
  • Facilitating more than 5.300 contracts, resulting in nearly $4 billion in contracts and more than 65,000 jobs over the last 20 years
  • Hosting 12 nationwide Native Edge Institutes in 2021, bringing premier business development instruction sessions to nine states, more than 650 in-person and virtual attendees, and 12,000 viewers on Facebook


Read more about The National Center’s fellow CUC members in the SBA’s full release here. Additional information about the CUC can be found at www.sba.gov/CUC. The SBA will announce CUC additional members in the coming weeks as well as the official meeting dates.


About the Council on Underserved Communities

Initially established in 2010, the Council on Underserved Communities provides advice, ideas, and opinions on SBA programs, services, and issues of interest to small businesses in underserved communities. The 20 member federal advisory committee serves as an essential connection between the SBA and underserved small businesses to work towards creating new and insightful initiatives to spur economic growth, job creation, competitiveness, and sustainability across all communities.


About the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 50 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – The National Center has evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation serving over 500 clients and providing over $4 billion in contracts to its clients. The National Center has nine offices throughout the nation with its home office located in Mesa, Arizona. The National Center is 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.