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WASHINGTON – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) today announced the committee’s passage of S.1116, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2017, legislation he introduced with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“Indian businesses and communities have long faced unnecessary barriers to economic development,” said Senator Hoeven. “This bill will stimulate growth by improving access to capital, increasing opportunities for Native businesses, and encouraging investment in our tribal communities. These updates are important for empowering Native entrepreneurs and creating good paying jobs in Indian Country. I am glad the committee acted expeditiously today to advance this measure.”

“Many Indian reservations across my home state of Arizona and the western United States continue to struggle with high unemployment rates and few business opportunities. We must do more to change this,” said Senator McCain. “This legislation addresses these serious challenges by expanding key economic development services for Native Americans who aspire to open a business on their own on tribal lands. I thank the committee for passing our bill today and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this effort to ensure the future success of Native American entrepreneurs and tribally owned businesses.”

The bill will spur economic growth and increase access to capital in Indian communities by amending and improving existing law, including:

·         the Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism Act of 2000;

·         the Native American Programs Act of 1974; and

·         the Buy Indian Act.

S.1116 amends existing law in the following ways:

Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism Act of 2000:

  • Requires coordination between the Secretaries of Commerce, Interior, and Treasury to develop initiatives encouraging investment in Indian communities.
  • Elevates the Director of Indian programs in the Department of Commerce and authorize the funding for operations.
  • Makes permanent the waiver of the requirement for Native CDFIs to provide a matching cost share for assistance received by the Treasury CDFI.

Native American Programs Act:

  • Reauthorizes the economic development programs.
  • Prioritizes applications and technical assistance for building tribal court systems and code development for economic development, supporting CDFIs, and developing master plans for community and economic development.

Buy Indian Act:

  • Facilitates the use of this Act whereby the BIA and IHS use Indian businesses for procurement and require more accountability in implementing this Act.

Background

A previous iteration of the bill was introduced in the 114th Congress by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). It was considered and passed by the committee. The legislation is based on input from Indian tribes, tribal organizations and businesses.

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