Derrick Watchman, chairman of the board of directors of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
Published December 4, 2017
Reps. Norma Torres, Tom Cole introduce legislation designed to boost the economies of Native American tribes and Alaska Native communities
WASHINGTON – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development applauds the leadership of Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) for introducing the “Jobs for Tribes Act” — bipartisan legislation that will provide critical business and economic development assistance to Native American tribes and Alaska Native communities. This legislation is similar to two bills approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee: The Native American Business Incubators Act (S. 607) and the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act (S.1116). Joining the National Center in supporting the Jobs for Tribes Act are the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Contractors Association, United South and Eastern Tribes, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and Coalition of Large Tribes.
“The National Center commends Rep. Torres and Rep. Cole and the other original cosponsors of the Jobs for Tribes Act for including in the bill many provisions strongly supported by our organization,” said National Center President and CEO Chris James. “The legislation seeks to create new and improve existing programs designed to increase economic opportunities for tribes, Native business owners, and their communities. We look forward to working with the legislation’s House sponsors and Senate champions to ensure it becomes law.”
National Center President and CEO Chris James
This legislation would create and enhance a variety of economic development tools and resources, many of which have long been priorities of the National Center. These include:
- Elevating and funding the Department of Commerce’s Office of Native American Business Development
- Expanding the Buy Indian Act within the Departments of Interior and Health and Human Services, and requiring more reporting to ensure its full implementation
- Reauthorizing the Native American Programs Act
- Promoting investments in Indian Country through federal loan guarantee programs and the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s programs
- Establishing a grant program within the Department of Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to develop and operate business incubators that serve Native American communities and businesses
In addition, the legislation requires the development of a strategy for the promotion and/or facilitation of increased commerce between Native American tribes and indigenous peoples of the Western hemisphere. Joining Reps. Torres and Cole as original co-sponsors of the legislation are Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Ron Kind (D-WI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Tom O‘Halleran (D-AZ), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).