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D.C. conference caps NIBA year

WASHINGTON - The National Indian Business Association will call tribes, corporations and government agencies together for its annual conference Sept. 9 through 11.

The conference agenda covers a lot of ground, from consideration of several bills before Congress to symposiums on government contracting for tribal organizations, panel discussions of future prospects for Indian economic development, tribal manufacturing initiatives, influential Indian women in business, and congressional reauthorization of the Tribal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. In addition, as always at NIBA, a trade show will be featured as part of the organization's mission of pairing tribal vendors with corporations and federal agencies that need their services.

Pete Homer, the well-known Mohave and Shasta business executive who has piloted NIBA from its inception in 1992, gave a preview of one surprise the conference will offer. Ernie Stevens of the National Indian Gaming Association will speak at the conference, and he is likely to mention a NIGA/NIBA collaborative effort on behalf of Indian business preferences at tribal casinos. It has taken until now to get traction behind the issue, Homer said; because tribal gaming has been "fast-tracked," meaning tribes haven't previously had time to develop widespread expertise and experience in the field of casino management and business services. Homer expects the collaborative effort between NIGA and NIBA to take about a year.

"It's a new day for Indian businesses in that Indian casino arena," he said.

Ernie Stevens will discuss NIGA's role in the preference initiative on Sept. 10 at the mid-morning "National Indian Organizations' Future Economic Development Prospective" panel.