BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has reaffirmed the SBA’s continued commitment to support Native American small businesses and entrepreneurs with additional resources to boost the entrepreneurial spirit of tribal nations in North Dakota alongside U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
“Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool North Dakotans and all Americans can harness in order to change the arc of their life. I am committed to making SBA resources more accessible, to empower small business owners across all communities, particularly tribal nations. Last year, the SBA supported more than $100 million in lending to Native American-owned small businesses. To continue the incredible contributions by tribal nations, we’re expanding the entrepreneurship potential by empowering tribal youth and investing in robust counseling and training, allowing more people to create their own success,” said Contreras-Sweet.
42 percent of Native American people are under the age of 24 and more than one-third of Native children live in poverty. Native youth have the lowest high school graduation rate of students across all schools. To address the challenges Native youth face, SBA will invest in youth entrepreneurship and training to foster Native American entrepreneurship in North Dakota. To secure the future of Native American entrepreneurship, SBA and the American Indian Chamber of Commerce will send Standing Rock youth to the Native American Youth Hack-a-Thon in Southern California on July. This event involves empowering Native youth to showcase technological solutions to solve difficulties present in their communities.
SBA is providing robust training by presenting a series of training workshops at Standing Rock Reservation, propelled by SBA’s Native American Entrepreneurial Empowerment workshop series. Furthermore, SBA is providing additional business training by funding $700K into Indian Country through the 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Services Program, request for proposals are due by July 13.
The SBA will also finance economic development in Indian Country through the “Business Accelerator” and “Startup in a Day” programs.
“When we talk about North Dakota’s economy, we often focus on the immense growth on and around the oil patch and our larger cities, but an important, and often neglected, part lies on our Indian reservations,” said Heitkamp.
“Unlike the rest of our state, Indian Country faces high unemployment and inadequate access to capital, transportation, or resources to support small businesses. I brought Administrator Contreras-Sweet to Standing Rock so she could hear firsthand the challenges faced by tribal communities and how the federal government can better serve rural tribes. The entrepreneurial spirit shouldn’t be limited by geography or demographics, and today’s announcement by SBA for increased support and resources in Indian Country reinforces that, while also fostering economic development in one of North Dakota’s most impoverished areas. Our tribal communities deserve to live in thriving communities, and I’ll continue to push for increased support and resources, like these steps taken today, for all of Indian Country.”