Posted at 10:10 AM
When Secretary Pritzker declared that the Department of Commerce is “open for business,” she meant that this agency would be on the side of all businesses across our country – including Native American entrepreneurs, business owners, workers, tribal governments, and families.
Today, the Secretary will spend time meeting with Native American youth and tribal leaders in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to highlight the key services offered by our Department in Indian Country, such as data resources, trade promotion, infrastructure funding, access to capital, and contracting opportunities to promote robust, sustainable economic growth, opportunity, and job creation.
Here are a few examples of how Commerce partners with tribal communities:
The Economic Development Administration provides grants that help remove economic barriers and attract further investment to Indian Country, addressing a broad array of needs from facilities and infrastructure construction to technical assistance and revolving loan fund projects. Between FY 2009 and 2014, EDA awarded nearly $48 million in assistance to American Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities to start businesses, build roads and other infrastructure, and create economic development plans.
The Minority Business Development Agency leverages public and private resources to provide minority entrepreneurs, including Native clients, with access to expertise, capital, contracts, and new markets. During the Obama Administration thus far, MBDA has assisted Native American clients in accessing nearly $1.87 billion in capital, through its nationwide network of business centers - six of which are located in high Native population areas: Anchorage, Alaska; Fresno, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Bismarck, North Dakota; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America is a key element of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s mission. Through the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, NTIA provided $1 billion for projects benefitting tribes, $43 million of which was awarded directly to tribal governments. The Broadband USA initiative will support continued work to help Native communities expand broadband infrastructure and adoption by convening stakeholders and community leaders, sharing lessons learned, developing toolkits, and providing technical assistance.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office protects against misappropriation of official tribal insignia by maintaining a tribal insignia database. USPTO has also partnered with the Department of Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board on programs targeted to intellectual property and false advertising concerns of Native American craftspeople.
The Economic and Statistics Administration, which includes the Census bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, is the primary source of reputable, current information about our nation’s economy, businesses, and people. Among its wide array of projects and programs, the Census Bureau conducts a Boundary and Annexation Survey annually to collect changes to legal boundaries, names, and governmental status for federally-recognized tribes, off-reservation trust land, and tribal subdivisions within the United States. Census is currently developing its Survey of Business Owners, due out in September of this year, which will include statistics on Native-owned businesses.
The International Trade Administration, through a nationwide network of over 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers in conjunction with headquarters staff, has helped Native businesses and tribes enter and compete in foreign markets and attract business to reservation economies through export assistance, tourism promotion, and foreign trade zone designation. Recent examples of ITA’s work include export assistance to the Mohegan tribe, tourism promotion in collaboration with Native communities in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the foreign trade zone designation of an industrial park owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
You can learn more about the Department of Commerce’s services for Native American businesses and communities here http://www.commerce.gov/os/olia/native-american-affairs