WASHINGTON — The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona have been awarded $7.8 million in funding from The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Both grants are part of the American Rescue Plan's Indigenous Communities program and will be used for local business growth.  

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The Chickasaw Nation was awarded a $3.1 million grant to build a critical high-speed network while promoting entrepreneurship and workforce development to the Tribal community in Ada, Oklahoma. The project was organized by the Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA) and is focused on creating an economic roadmap to strengthen the regional economy and create jobs. 

“This EDA investment will provide the high-speed internet capacity that Chickasaw Nation businesses need to grow and thrive,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Fort Apache Heritage Foundation, Inc., was awarded a $4.7 million grant to build new commercial infrastructure for Tribal entrepreneurs as they start and grow businesses on reservation land. According to the EDA, the grant will be matched with $406,855 in local funds and is expected to create or retain 190 jobs, according to estimates. The project will help the renovation of an existing residential building for use as office and commercial space.

“This EDA investment will provide critical infrastructure for the White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation, supporting the diversification of the economy and the creation of new jobs in the community,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

The Fort Apache Indian Reservation is in northeastern Arizona and spans parts of Navajo, Gila, and Apache counties. It is home to the federally recognized White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation, a Western Apache tribe.

 “We’re proud to help secure over $4 million for Fort Apache Indian Reservation small businesses,” Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) said in a statement. “This historic investment will fuel growth and create more economic opportunities, helping Arizonans continue to thrive.” 

$100 million of American Rescue Plan funding has been allocated specifically for Indigenous communities and Tribal Governments, who were disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program funds a wide range of technical, planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and public works and infrastructure projects. The program closed applications on May 26, 2022, with program funding to be announced through September 30, 2022. 

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