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Blackfeet Nation creates new venture

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BROWNING, Mon. – The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the governing body of the Blackfeet Nation, has created a new tribal venture called Chief Mountain Technologies. The company has applied for certification as an SBA 8(a) and HUBZone contractor, specializing in large-scale information technology and professional business services for federal and state agencies.

The company is expected to create a significant number of jobs for tribal members both on and off the reservation, as well as providing major new revenue streams to help fund tribal programs. The company is headquartered in Browning with a branch office in Seattle, to be closer to customers and technical labor pools.

“This new venture represents a milestone for the Blackfeet Tribe,” said tribal Chairman Willie Sharp. “It demonstrates that the days of letting high-potential business opportunities pass us by are gone. After years of good ideas but little real progress, this new council was elected to replace indecision and inaction with bold thinking and action. The tribe needs meaningful economic development and job creation, and this is an important first step.”

“As a measure of how committed this council is to aggressively pursuing and quickly seizing opportunities that make sense for the tribe, this venture was approved in less than 30 days from the date of first presentation,” said tribal Secretary TJ Show. “That is unheard of in Indian country, and I am proud of staff and my fellow councilmen for their commitment to fast and decisive action when opportunity knocks.”

The SBA 8(a) program was originally designed to provide access to federal contracts for companies owned by economically disadvantaged individuals. But in recent years, Congress expanded the program to include Indian tribes and Alaska Native Corporations and created different rules for these entities. So, for example, whereas 8(a)-certified companies owned by individuals are limited to $5 million contracts, tribes and ANCs can be awarded sole source contracts of any size. Contracts as large as $500 million dollar have been awarded to tribes and ANCs.

Thus, for tribes in locations too remote to build large casinos, the 8(a) program has proven to be the only other business opportunity large enough to provide revenue and job creation on the scale needed by large tribes such as the 16,000 member Blackfeet. IT services, in particular, has been the high growth segment of 8(a) contracting, in great demand by the Department of Defense and other large federal agencies.

“As proven by dozens of other tribes and ANCs, 8(a) IT services contracting is the highest growth opportunity available to help solve the economic and unemployment problems that have plagued our reservation for decades,” said Gregg Paisley, Blackfeet member and Chief Mountain Technologies CEO. “I am especially excited at the career paths we are opening up for tribal members. Other tribes, by failing to diversify away from gaming, create dead-end gaming and hospitality jobs. But we are creating careers in a wide range of technological, scientific and professional fields.”