Posted at 5:08 PM
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered a clear message to tribal leaders and youth in Michigan last week: keeping Indian Country “Open for Business” is a high priority for the Department of Commerce and the Obama Administration.
During her visit to the Upper Peninsula, Secretary Pritzker met with local Native American leaders and students to discuss how government can best empower tribes to chart their own economic futures.
Secretary Pritzker described how the Commerce Department strives each and every day to create the conditions for businesses and workers to grow and prosper in every single community in America. She noted that our Department is actively partnering with Indian Country through programs aimed at:
- Expanding trade and investment
- Promoting tourism on Indian lands;
- Growing Native-owned businesses;
- Diversifying tribal economies; and
- Preparing the next generation of Native leaders for success in the 21st century.
Secretary Pritzker’s trip included a tour of the Great Lakes Composites Institute, an advanced manufacturing facility owned by the Bay Mills Indian Community and constructed with the support and investment of the Commerce Department. The Institute acts to broaden the tribe’s economy and to provide training opportunities for tribal youth.
Secretary Pritzker also toured the Bay Mills Community College (BMCC), Michigan’s first fully accredited two-year tribal college. A Commerce Department investment in broadband technology has allowed BMCC to reach tribal students and others beyond its local community.
Over the course of her visit and discussions, Secretary Pritzker said the Commerce Department is committed to ensuring tribes and Native businesses have access to all of the Department’s programs and services, including:
- The Minority Business Development Agency, which has six business development centers in high Native population areas to spur growth and job creation;
- The Economic Development Administration, which has provided nearly $48 million in assistance to tribes for infrastructure projects and planning; and
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which has delivered roughly $1 billion in broadband grants that benefitted tribes.
Secretary Pritzker emphasized the commitment of the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department to partnering with Native American leaders to develop strong and sustainable economies, and to create jobs and opportunities in Indian Country and beyond.