An Indian Country Today article described the 6th Annual American Indian Business Expo conducted by the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce April 12 – 13.
The promises and pitfalls of small business and the complex paths to success were described by Colorado Natives R. Carol Harvey, Navajo, executive secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, and Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, former CCIA executive secretary and now director of government affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
They recommended that tribal nations could make it mandatory for their 18-year-olds to have small business training before they receive their per capita checks so they would have something to build on.
It is important for Native business leaders to have a “wide panoply of information,” in part because Indian businesses that operate in Indian country have different licensing, taxation, and employment and labor laws, she said.
Harvey said five percent of federal prime contracts are to be set aside for 8(a) small businesses, which include those owned by Native and tribal entities; three percent are for businesses in HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) areas, including Indian reservations; three percent are for service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses, and five percent are to go to woman-owned small businesses, although certain parts of that program are not in place at present. The programs are not mutually exclusive.