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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) named Chris James (Eastern Band Cherokee), CEO and president of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) to serve on its Council on Underserved Communities. James was named to the Council by SBA's Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

The Council on Underserved Communities was reconvened by the Biden administration and is tasked with furthering the equity priorities of  the 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.

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As the head of The National Center, James brings a wealth of knowledge to the Council relating to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian small business owners. The appointment is a good fit for James, who served as associate administrato at SBA from 2011 - 2016, where he was a Senior Executive Service (SES) appointee of President Barack Obama where he oversaw the Office of Field Operations, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Office of Native American Affairs.

“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,” James said. “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."
  
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.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]