Calling for Enactment of the Native American Business Incubators Program Act

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TITLE: Calling for Enactment of the Native American Business Incubators Program Act

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, there has long been a tremendous need for access to business development and entrepreneurial assistance programs designed and tailored to Indian Country’s unique sovereign and business characteristics and capabilities, the urgent need to access capital given the challenges of using tribal lands as collateral for traditional business financing; and

WHEREAS, small business and entrepreneurial development assistance programs of the Small Business Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency were never designed to address the unique needs of Indian Country, and their funding once allocated to tribal or other Native American technical assistance providers has been eliminated or reduced greatly; and

WHEREAS, Small Business Administration business accelerator “prizes” under the America Competes Act have been awarded to only a few Native American focused technology accelerators, and these one-time prizes do not provide sustained support, nor require follow up reporting on services rendered; and

WHEREAS, business incubators with experience serving Indian Country can best provide the on-going support in the range of industry sectors that native-owned business startups and growth oriented companies enter and desire to succeed in; and

WHEREAS, establishing and assisting established and operating Native American business incubators (such as but not limited to Native-owned banks and Native Community Development Financial Institutions) with the experience and facilities resources necessary to provide business development, technical assistance, and other support services to Native startups and established Native businesses will grow reservation economies and foster self-determination and self-sufficiency; and

WHEREAS, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act would require the Department of the Interior to establish a grant program in the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, with three-year grants to operate business incubators that serve Native American communities by: providing physical workspace and facilities resources to Native startups and established Native businesses; accelerating the growth and success of Native businesses through a variety of business support resources and services; and fostering collaboration among institutions of higher education, tribal or private nonprofit providers, and Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education; and

WHEREAS, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act was introduced in the 114th Congress, during which it received a hearing and was ordered reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and then reintroduced in the 115th Congress, considered, and again ordered reported favorably to the Senate.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) supports the creation of a grant program to support business incubators in tribal communities serving Native American entrepreneurs that would provide workspace; training tailored to entrepreneurship in Indian Country; and information on and assistance with accessing other available business development resources; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby call upon the Congress to enact the Native American Business Incubators Program Act; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.