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Montana Department of Commerce Awards 18 Indian Equity Fund Grants

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The Montana Department of Commerce has awarded 18 American Indian business owners in the state $7,000 each in Indian Equity Fund Grants to help them start or expand their businesses.

The total of $119,000 in equity fund grants was delivered to recipients chosen from a pool of 45 applicants.

“This Equity Fund has proven to be an excellent resource for tribal members with entrepreneurial goals,” said Dore Schwinden, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “We’ve seen some true success stories of Equity Funds helping new businesses start out on the right foot and helping established businesses really take off running.”

Equity Funds can be used for a variety of activities such as the purchase of new equipment or the development of a new product line. Equity Funds requires a minimum dollar to dollar match. These funds may include collateral such as cash, in kind, or loan funds such as a tribal loan fund, a micro loan program, or a commercial lender. Examples of "in kind match" may include inventory, supplies, equipment, tools or vehicles that are part of the activity of the business.

The Montana Indian Equity Fund is a state-funded program administered by the Montana Department of Commerce. Funding is utilized from the Indian Country Economic Development program (ICED) via the recommendation of the State Tribal Economic Development Commission (STED) and the approval of the Director of the Department of Commerce.

2011 Indian Equity Fund Recipients

? Blackfeet: Jamie L. Grounds with The Honeysuckle Flower Shop and Gifts in Browning; and Francis Kittson with Firehorse Café in Babb

? Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes: Dureen Blixt with Hairway 93 in Polson; and Shannon Burke with Home Helpers/Direct Link of Western Montana in Ronan

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? Chippewa Cree Tribe: Jason Belcourt and James “Midge” the Boy with “Hunting the Rez” magazine; Johnny E. Allery with Allery and Sons Construction; and Natalie Flores with Nat’s Latte Dreams in Box Elder

? Crow: Mandy Moccasin-Plainfeather with cattle ranching in Lodge Grass; and Richard Seth Whiteclay with cattle ranching in Pryor

? Fort Belknap: Toby Werk with Blue Heaven Guest Ranch in Hays; and Jessie James Hawley with Turtle Woman Gifts and Publications in Harlem

? Fort Peck: Pat Klotz with Pat’s Unique Boutique and Candle House in Wolf Point; and Raymond White Tail Feather with Dakota Trading Post in Poplar

? Northern Cheyenne: Vaughn Shoulderblade with S/Blade Construction in Lame Deer; and Tony Prairiebear-Prairiebear with Wood Products in Lame Deer

? Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa: Jane Thompson with HavreSaks in Havre; and Robin Christopherson with Looking Glass Printing in Florence

? At Large: Robert D. Kittson with Lodge Builders in Havre

During the first four years of the program, the Montana Department of Commerce and State Tribal Economic Development Commission provided $483,000 to fund a total of 72 business owners.

A total of $119,000 is available for the 2012 program year. For more information regarding the fund or to request an application for 2012, contact the program manager at the Montana Department of Commerce, Philip Belangie, or (406) 721-3663.