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Native American Small Businesses Growing and Going Strong: SBA Ensures Access to Resources

Featuring Chris James, Assistant Administrator
Office of Native American Affairs
U.S. Small Business Administration

Native American small business ownership is on the rise. Today, Native Americans continue to make significant contributions in many areas such as construction, energy, tourism and to our economic health through business ownership and job creation. Chris shares information about SBA’s 3 Cs: counseling, training and credit for business, and contracting opportunities. Also learn about new initiatives to help Native veterans and youth.

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Transcript:

Ron Johnson:  Every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau provides detailed information on the status of American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian privately owned small businesses and the news is good. Most recent data show that Native American small business ownership rose more than 17 percent since 2002.

Hello, I’m Ron Johnson with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Your Small Business Resource. And with us today is Chris James, Assistant Administrator of SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs. Welcome to the program, Chris.

Chris James:  Thanks, Ron. It’s a pleasure to talk with you today especially this month since November is Native American Heritage Month. Each November we take time to recognize the contributions native people have made to building this great nation. Today, Native Americans continue to make significant contributions in many areas such as construction, energy, tourism and to our economic health through business ownership and job creation.

Ron Johnson:  So, Chris, what can you tell us about Native American affairs, the Office of Native American Affairs?

Chris James:  Office of Native American Affairs works to ensure that American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians have access to the full range of programs, services and products offered by SBA and its resource partners through our 3 C’s.  These 3 C’s are counseling and training, credit for your business and contracting opportunities.  You can learn more about SBA resources by visiting our website at www.sba.gov/direct.

Ron Johnson:  So, Chris, what it is about entrepreneurship that appeals to Native Americans and what barriers do they face?

Chris James:  Ron, some of the barriers our communities face are access to capital, transportation and infrastructure. Also resources for economic development. But historically, Native Americans have had an entrepreneurial spirit and today that helps to improve our communities by stimulating growth.

Ron Johnson:  So tell us about how Native Americans participate in SBA’s E200 Initiative.

Chris James:  As of January 2011, the E200 Emerging Leaders Initiative has helped more than 600 promising small business owners across the country grow their businesses. Since 2009, the Office of Native American Affairs joined this initiative and produced 234 Native American graduates from 12 locations across Indian Country. The nine-month training includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial institutions. Surveyed entrepreneurs also reported having secured nearly $10 million in new financing for their businesses with an increasing confidence when applying for government contracts. Post-trainees have reported securing nearly 500 federal, state and local contracts worth more than $112 million. If you are an established business, this initiative may be for you.

Ron Johnson:  Chris, I’ve heard about the Young Entrepreneur Series, so can you tell us about that?

Chris James:  That’s right, Ron. In coordination with the White House, SBA launched the Young Entrepreneur Series or what we call YES in May of 2011 with an event in New York City. The Native American YES Event is the fifth in the series and highlights the work of young Native American entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses. The event is November 29th and will be held in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This event will be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live so individuals can tune in from across the country.

Ron Johnson:  So, are there any other key program areas you’re working with for 2012?

Chris James:  There sure are, Ron.  We have six key projects coming up on 2012. These projects include economic and business development resources through our tribal colleges, we’re building reservation-based entrepreneurial development and we’re also providing online and CD resources. Another exciting thing is our Native American Veteran Workshop Series which we’ll be continuing throughout the year.

Ron Johnson:  Excellent. Our thanks to Chris James, Assistant Administrator of SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs.

American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have taken their rich history of entrepreneurship and turned into a small business success story. SBA stands ready to help them meet today’s barriers through a diverse mix of programs and services. Now, you can learn more about the Office of Native American Affairs at www.sba.gov/naa.  If you want to know more about SBA’s programs and services go to www.sba.gov/direct. So until next time, I’m Ron Johnson with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Your Small Business Resource.

[End of transcript]