Since we last spoke in early March, we have successfully concluded our 33rd annual Reservation Economic Summit. RES 2019 was a tremendous success, with over 2,400 attendees and four days of a jam-packed schedule. It was a fitting way to celebrate the National Center’s 50th Anniversary – to showcase the incredible talent and opportunity in Indian Country. Hundreds of trade show and artisan market vendors sold their goods and services to interested buyers. Contractors were matched with procurement officers. Musicians like Raye Zaragoza and Matt Stillwell entertained attendees. We honored the work of those contributing to Indian Country at our 50th Anniversary gala. Golfers hit the links and raised money for our business scholarships.
It was an incredible four days and I hope you were able to join us for the celebration. But if you weren’t, I hope you check out our RES recap that’s included in the newsletter. You should also watch the video we made to showcase our work to help businesses and entrepreneurs across Indian Country.
At RES, I took the time to emphasize all of our efforts – the work we do for the other 361 days of the year. The work that starts the Friday after RES ends. As you can see from our most recent newsletter, we are already preparing for our upcoming NEIs in New York and Maine later this spring and summer. If you are in the area and interested, we encourage you to sign up to attend these one-day trainings focused on procurement and technology. These will be our 8th and 9th NEIs in less than a year. I am thrilled with their progress and hope to see you at an event soon.
We were also pleased that Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) has introduced the House version of The Native American Business Incubators Program Act, or H.R. 1900. Having already passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, this legislation would create business incubators focused specifically on Native communities, providing them with additional access to capital and other assistance. In addition, Rep. Norma Torres introduced the House version of S. 212 – the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2019. H.R. 1937 would improve federal programs designed to support Indian Country, and increase Buy Indian Act requirements at Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. Rep. Haaland announced the introduction via video during Day 3 of RES. The National Center has worked tirelessly to support this legislation and we are thrilled we have leaders in Congress dedicated to seeing them across the finish line.
We are also partnering with Nike and UNITY to increases membership in our Native Edge portal, with a Thursday, April 18 sign up event at the Nike Factory Store at Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community. With the help of these incredible organizations, we are strengthening the reach of this incredible networking, educational, and employment tool.
The National Center has a busy few months ahead – we look forward to continuing to serve Indian Country!
Chris James President and CEO The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development