Published September 22, 2016
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed Senator Jon Tester’s bill that will help create jobs and launch businesses in Indian Country.
Tester’s bill, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, will create a competitive grant initiative to establish and fund business incubators in Indian Country to help start-up and cultivate Native American-owned small businesses.
“Native entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to leave their communities so they can get the training they need to start a business,” Tester said. “Tribal business incubators can provide aspiring Native American entrepreneurs with the specific resources they need to navigate the unique challenges in Indian Country. I believe this bill will empower tribal entities to build the kind of business landscape in their community that will allow economic development to thrive.”
Tribal business incubators will create a space for Native American businesses to receive assistance in developing a business plan, navigating federal, tribal, and state regulations, and attracting outside investment. The incubators will also provide entrepreneurs a connected workspace and professional networking opportunities.
Tester’s bill would authorize $5 million annually to fund this economic development initiative.
Tribes, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and non-profit organizations are eligible to operate a business incubator. Tester is additionally pushing legislation forward that will increase construction and expand the capabilities of Tribal Colleges and Universities.
To be considered for a grant, the applicant must:
- Serve one or more tribal communities.
- Submit a three-year plan.
- Provide a physical work space.
- Offer business skills training and education.
The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will also provide oversight to business incubators and ensure they are delivering on their commitment to Native American entrepreneurs.
The Native American Business Incubators Program Act passed on a bipartisan vote. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and is available HERE.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.