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St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Office of Economic Development named for award

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AKWESASNE, N.Y. – The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Office of Economic Development to receive the 2010 Minority Small Business Champion Award. Since 1953, the SBA has recognized outstanding individuals for their dedication to small business through its awards program and the National Small Business Week.

“We were nominated by the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center. We also received letters of support from the professionals we work with from the various partnerships we’ve established and maintained,” said Steven B. Cook, director of the Office of Economic Development. The SBA’s Syracuse District director will present the award at the 12th Annual Small Business Excellence Awards luncheon May 7 in Syracuse, N.Y.

“This is recognition for how the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe supports, promotes and contributes to local and regional economies,” said Tribal Chief James Ransom. “We are proud to receive this award and we commend the Office of Economic Development for its achievements.”

“The Office of Economic Development works to promote a vibrant, sustainable and diversified local economy through training, technical support and financial assistance. We recently opened the Akwesasne Employment Resource Center and launched the Akwesasne Revolving Loan Fund,” Cook said. The territory is home to more than 350 local businesses.

Steady employment opportunities reflect the strength and stability of the Akwesasne economy.

“Right now the tribe is one of the major employers in the North Country,” said Tribal Chief Monica Jacobs. “We employ many people from our neighboring communities, especially in private businesses.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Akwesasne,” said Tribal Chief Mark Garrow. “We continue to grow and provide jobs, despite the recession.” Outside the private sector, the tribe employs about 1,400 people between tribal operations, the tribal grocery store and its two gaming properties.

The tribe’s Office of Economic Development collaborates with many other local organizations: the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center, St. Lawrence County Arts Council, local Chambers of Commerce, COMLINKS, along with the Akwesasne Area Management Board and Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’s Economic Development Department.

“Steven and I work very hard to help our local business community and it’s nice to be recognized by our peers,” explained Lindsay Tarbell, planner for economic development. “We understand that working together with neighboring communities is important. These partnerships help us to promote tourism into the region and develop regional economies.”

This is the first time SBA has nominated the tribe’s Office of Economic Development for such an award and is a sign of the tribe’s growing economic impact.