NCAIED welcomes funding for programs to encourage youth entrepreneurship, but cites need for increase in Indian Loan Guarantee Programs
WASHINGTON, DC – National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (National Center) Board Vice Chair, Patricia Parker, briefed staff of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the President’s FY 2017 budget request for Indian Programs on February 17. Parker praised the budget request, calling it a generous response to tribes’ call to increase funding for many tribal programs. In particular, Parker and the National Center welcomed the emphasis on the Generation Indigenous Initiative, particularly its focus on Youth Entrepreneurship. The National Center hosted its own Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (YES!) during its most recent Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Santa Fe, which encouraged Native youth to follow their business dreams. Parker noted, however, that continued shortfalls in the Indian Loan Guarantee Program – shortfalls still present in the President’s budget - remain a concern.
“The President’s budget responds to the requests of many Native American tribes, and indicates a clear desire to continue his Administration’s commitment to Indian Country,” Parker said. “Though there will always be room for improvement, the budget is a clear step in the right direction. I hope the Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes a close look at this budget request, and works with the Administration to ensure critical programs like the Indian Loan Guarantee are funded at levels that can and will make a difference for Indian Country.”
With respect to the Department of Interior’s Indian Loan Guarantee Program, the National Center Parker called for doubling the $7.57 million budget request. Similar funding levels in the past have resulted in the program being exhausted with months left in the year because demand is so high for access to critical economic development capital, and current funds are nowhere near the Congressionally-authorized $1.5 billion aggregate limit on total guaranteed loans. The program represents a remarkable return on investment: for every $1 spent by the federal government results in $15 in private lending. Increased funding is also supported by the National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Finance Officers Association and many other national and regional Native American organizations.
In both her written and oral testimonies, Parker outlined several of the National Center’s other ongoing top priorities for Indian Country and how they relate to the budget request, including:
—Consolidating Indian Country-related programmatic activities across DOE under a stand-alone Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, with total funding of $23 million. This also includes funding and utilizing the Indian Loan Guarantee Program.
—Urging Congress to provide $36 million for the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers program, including $3.6 million for the six American Indian PTACs, and $15 million for the 5% Indian Incentive Program, in the Defense Appropriations bill (same as previous years funding).
—Funding a stand-alone Office of Native American Business Development, reporting to the Secretary of Commerce, as authorized Public Law 106-464. Within the substantial increase of $17 million requested this year for Commerce’s Departmental Management account, Congress should direct as much as $1 million of that increase to stand up this key Office.
—The National Center is a frequent witness at the Indian Affairs Committee, in both the current Congress and previous ones. In January of 2015, National Center President and CEO Gary Davis testified at a hearing on Indian Country Priorities in the 114th Congress. In June during RES DC, National Center Board Chairman Derrick Watchman shared his perspective during a hearing entitled Accessing Capital in Indian Country. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs staff are a frequent presence at RES events, too.
About the National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people- both now… and for generations to come