Haaland Bill to Break Cycles of Poverty in Native Communities Through Smart Economic Development Signed into Law

October 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday afternoon, a bill introduced by Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) to break cycles of poverty in Indian Country, was signed into law. The bill received bipartisan support from Congressional Native American Caucus Co-Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), Representatives Norma Torres (D-CA), and Don Young (R-AK). The Senate companion to Haaland’s Native American Business Incubators Program Act was led by U.S. Senator Tom Udall.

The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will provide essential services such as a workspace, a collaborative environment, comprehensive business skills training, and opportunities to build professional networks that will help increase access to capital for business investment and growth through three-year grants to entities with ties to tribal communities, education institutions, and other organizations to expand assistance to a broad range of business sectors and incubation methods. 

“Native Americans' entrepreneurial spirit can break cycles of poverty, but economic resources have not been accessible to Native businesses. I know what it’s like to run a business, and the struggle it was to find economic support and mentorship to grow my business.  I could only imagine how much easier it would have been if I had access to business incubation. In the midst of a global pandemic and economic recession, Tribal communities need our help now more than ever. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will empower future business owners in Indian Country so they can grow their enterprises and build strong vibrant economies,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus.

Poverty and unemployment rates in tribal communities are nearly triple the national average. Federal programs designed to support the social and economic well-being of Native Americans remain chronically underfunded and sometimes inefficiently structured, which leaves many basic needs in the Native American community unmet and contributes to the inequities observed in Native American communities.

This bill requires the Department of the Interior to establish a grant program in the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development for establishing and operating business incubators that serve Native American communities.

Full text of the bill here.