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Dive Deep at the National Center's First-ever Northwest Enterprise & YES! Event

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The National Center is taking a fresh approach with its first-ever Northwest-based conference, heavily focusing on the regional economies of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Get ready to dive deep into four key tracks that will headline the experience: business development, leadership and management, regional economic development and workforce development. “Those four tracks really empower a business,” Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center, told ICMN.

The four-day event, Northwest Enterprise Development Conference, will explore popular Pacific Northwest industries such as technology, fishing, the environment and agriculture. Hosted by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, September 4 -7, at Tulalip Resort Casino in Washington State, just north of Seattle, the dynamic conference is themed “Power of the Past, Force for the Future.” The half-day Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (YES!) coincides with the occasion.

Attendees will hear from Native executives, experts at Fortune 500 companies, and federal government representatives about their leadership and management styles. Oftentimes, companies grow so quickly, they bypass critical steps like employee management. This event will get business leaders up to speed.


CEO-specific sessions will emphasize business management. Oftentimes, small business owners don’t think of themselves as the “chief executive officer,” James noted, although in every sense, they act as one. “In all reality, if you own or run a business, you are the CEO. Sometimes you’re the only employee, too,” James underscored.

“I’ve asked several of our tribal and Alaska Native Corporation CEOs to talk about their leadership style, how they run their companies,” James added.

The National Center is in the process of building leadership round table forums for the September event. Tribal leaders will talk amongst themselves about challenges to regional economic development, facilitated by a representative of the Native Nations Institute of The University of Arizona. “The goal is to come up with some recommendations that the National Center can then take on,” James said.

Concentrated Sessions

Unique, concentrated sessions include a presentation by Lockheed Martin about how to work with Lockheed Martin and how to get into Lockheed Martin’s supply chain. Another one explores how to use sustainable business materials when building tribal infrastructure.


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Established Native business leaders and speakers will educate, motivate and inspire attendees of the third annual YES! hosted in Washington State—the first time the summit will take place outside of New Mexico.

A half-day event designed for students and young adults, YES! will hone in on opportunities for youth entrepreneurship. “A lot of times when we think of opportunities for the millennial generation, entrepreneurship isn’t considered for whatever reason. The National Center wants to make sure people know: there are a lot of options after high school. Think of entrepreneurship as one of those options: creating your own company, creating your own app, creating your own skills. We want to foster that,” James said.

Beyond innovativing businesses, YES! empowers students with information about pursuing highly coveted jobs. “Many times, the millennial generation or Native youth don’t see the pathway to work for a Fortune 500 company, so we have at least one session that looks at that,” James said.

40 Under 40

The National Center will also honor its 40 Under 40 winners at the Northwest Enterprise event. This marks the 10th anniversary of 40 Under 40. Including 2017’s tenth class of honorees, the National Center will have recognized 400 total emerging American Indians from across Indian country.

The deadline for nominations is July 14, 2017. Nominees must between 18-39 years of age before October 7, 2017.

Also at the Northwest Enterprise event, the American Indian Business Scholarships will be announced. To apply, visit

Business Expo & Art Market

In addition to their booth, every vendor will have the opportunity to promote their unique business vision or items for sale on the side stage at the Northwest Enterprise business expo. “Every 10 minutes, one of the vendors has an opportunity to speak about their company or product,” James said.

A favorite aspect of National Center events is the regional art market. This conference is no exception. “Our goal is to have the concentration from Pacific Northwest artists,” James said.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit