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Native American Business Incubators Act Signed Into Law

Last week, the Native American Business Incubators Act was signed into law. Introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the legislation will give support to Native American-owned small businesses. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) in the House of Representatives.

“For too long, Native American entrepreneurs have faced unique barriers in accessing capital and resources for their small businesses,” Udall said in a statement after the legislation was signed into law. “The enactment of the Native American Business Incubators Act is a win for Indian Country, and will support Native American-owned businesses in navigating through obstacles and red tape.”

The law authorizes $5 million through 2024 for a competitive grant program through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to create business incubators for reservation communities and Native entrepreneurs. It requires recipients to provide a nonfederal contribution of at least 25 percent  of their annual award, and 33 percent of an award under a grant renewal.

The Department must also work with other federal agencies to reduce duplicate federal efforts, ensuring that grant recipients have the necessary information to help entrepreneurs access federal programs.

“Native Americans’ entrepreneurial spirit can break cycles of poverty, but for far too long, key economic resources have not been available to Native businesses,” said Rep. Haaland in a press release after the legislation passed the House in September. “When I was running my salsa company, I could only imagine how much easier it would have been if I had access to business incubation support.”

“In the midst of a global pandemic and economic recession, Tribal communities need our help now more than ever,” Haaland continued. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will ensure that future business owners in Indian Country can grow their enterprises and build strong vibrant economies.”

“We still have more work to do to ensure Tribal communities and economies have the support they need to recover and thrive,” Udall concluded. “We must continue [to] work toward comprehensive COVID-19 relief in Congress and make sure we are living up to our trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes.”

Click here for a summary of the bill.

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