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Native American Students Attend Economic Development Summit

Native American students had the opportunity to attend the Youth Track at a recent economic development summit.

Minnesota’s three largest tribal nations, Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake co-sponsored the Fourth Economic Development Summit at Shooting Star Casino, Hotel and Event Center at Mahnomen, September 14-15.

Building Business Through Partnerships was the focus of the 2011 summit. Billed as the 2011 Northern Minnesota Tribal Economic Development Summit and Trade Show, “the goal of the summit,” said Red Lake Economic Development Director Sam Strong, “was to enhance business opportunities and encourage business development by promoting healthy, self-sufficient and sustainable communities throughout the region. By creating partnerships and working together we can build a better quality of life for our families.”

On Wednesday, after an invocation by Terrance Tibbitts, a drum ceremony by Eagle Spirit, and Flag Ceremony by an honor guard from all three tribes, a welcoming was presented by the tribal chairs.?First to speak was Erma Vizenor of the host nation, White Earth.

Vizenor was followed by Floyd Jourdain Jr., of Red Lake Nation. Arthur “Archie” LaRose of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe was predisposed and was unable to participate. A video played welcome messages from 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson, and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.

Wednesday’s events were followed by a trade show reception, dinner and entertainment by comedians Williams and Ree often billed as “The Indian and the White Guy.”

The trade show was held throughout the two-day gathering. Many organizations and businesses provided information to summit attendees about arts and crafts, job opportunities, census data interpretation, schools, food service, and information on tribal, state and federal programs.

Keynote Speeches and Breakout Sessions

The 2011 summit was emceed by David Glass, president of the American Indian Economic Development Fund. On Wednesday morning a keynote address was given by Gabriel S. Galanda, attorney of Galanda Broadman PLLC.

Galanda’s practice focuses on complex multi-party litigation and crisis management. He is skilled in representing tribes and Native-American owned enterprises from legal attacks by local, state and federal governments.

A second keynote address followed at noon lunch by Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the award-winning economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Ho-Chunk employs 1,400 people in 10 states and four foreign countries. The company operates 24 subsidiaries and has revenues in excess of $193 million.

After lunch, breakout sessions were conducted on Economic Development Resources, and Doing Business with Government. A second session followed on Marketing the Census, and a panel presentation on Financial Strength Building. A concurrent tribal leader closed session was held with tribal leaders on the first day at 2 p.m.

Council attendance was highly encouraged so decisions to move forward on proposed business opportunities could be made.?Thursday’s keynote speeches focused directly on economic development from federal and state representatives. The 9 a.m. session was conducted by Jack R. Stevens, U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary of Indian Affairs, Chief Division of Economic Development.

The luncheon keynote address was conducted by Mark Phillips, commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Energy and Economic Development (DEED).

Youth Attend Summit

Youth Track: Building the Next Generation of Leaders, an interesting first time addition to the summit consisted of workshops for youth on Wednesday. Thirty 11th and 12th grade Native American students participated in two sessions.

Margueritte Secola, Red Lake Economic Development and Planning, said that students who participated are academically inclined and interested in higher education. “We want to develop a youth division and expose students to professionals, and give them hands on experience.”

Because of school, kids were there just part of the day, but Secola played a major role in organizing and conducting the workshops along with instructor Sharon James, of the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and Linda Sapp, of the American Indian Economic Development fund.

The first workshop in the morning was entitled The Buzz About Biz. This was an introduction to business where students learned what it means to be a business owner and how to go about starting one. Questions answered included; “What is an entrepreneur and what does a successful one look like? Why is small business important to the economy? Why does one business succeed and another fail?”

“Steps to decide what business to start and where, business plan development, how to obtain financing, and points in setting up a business were discussed,” said Secola. “The five functions of management was also covered, i.e. planning organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. It was pointed out that each of these functions involves creative problem solving.”

The second session for youth in the afternoon was entitled The Art of Marketing. Youth learned about the 4 P’s of marketing, Product, Place (marketability e.g. easy access), Price (what to take into consideration when pricing a product or service), and Promotion. Strategies on how to accomplish each were discussed.

Students then did a hands-on exercise learning about marketing by critiquing vendors and developing their own marketing ideas. This included three exercises, the first was Visual Observation, in which the students listed and observed one vendor, paid attention to marketing strategies they used, and considered suggestions to give them.

In the second exercise, Customer Service Interaction, students interacted with one vendor. Students asked themselves questions; What is done well? What is weak? And what do you suggest for improvement? Then students were directed to find a vendor without a logo. They were to talk and gather information about what a business might want to communicate to the customer with their name and logo, and think about what that logo might entail.