Here is a round up of business news briefs from around Indian Country.
• The Minority Business Development Agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce has launched a $3.9 million grant competition aimed at bolstering entrepreneurship and creating business opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians (AIANNH). The MBDA plans to award 13 two-year grants of $300,000 each. The deadline to submit applications is June 30. The MBDA’s objectives with the competition include job creation and retention in tribal businesses and communities and enhancing the economic opportunity and quality of life within the communities. The awards will support innovation and entrepreneurship, including business training, access to capital and federal program coaching; strategic planning for long-term economic development; and transformative projects such as infrastructure, public-private partnerships and broadband. More information is available on the MBDA website. “The American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Tribal communities are an essential component of the American economy and pillars of our culture and society,” Edith McCloud, acting national director of MBDA, said in a statement. “MBDA’s continuing support of AIANNH projects serve(s) to open new doors, create new jobs and provide much needed support for Tribal entrepreneurs and the communities they serve as America seeks to enhance our competitive position on the global business stage.”
• The Tunica-Biloxi Gaming Authority of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will take over full management of the Marksville, La.-based Paragon Casino Resort after a five-year partnership with Uncasville, Conn.-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, a venture of the Mohegan Tribe. Under MGE’s management, the casino successfully restructured to reduce its debt by more than two-thirds and refinanced its outstanding debt with “very favorable terms,” according to a statement. The operation says it will be debt-free within seven years. As a result of the restructuring, Paragon Casino Resort — one of the largest employers in central Louisiana — reinstated various employee benefits as well as raised its minimum wage above the state minimum. “The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe is grateful for the management and leadership Mohegan Sun has provided the Tribe,” Chairman Marshall Pierite said in a statement. “This has been a true Nation-to-Nation collaboration and we will continue to work with Mohegan Sun for the overall benefit of Indian Country to ensure the growth, empowerment, and benefit of our sovereignty for generations to come.” The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe has more than 1,500 members, most of whom are based in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois.
• Four Winds Casinos, the gaming enterprise of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, has named Clayton Mason as Chief Financial Officer following the retirement of Daniel Weindruch, who held the position for the last 14 years. Mason joined the organization in 2007 and has held various roles, including labor analyst, director of planning and analysis, director of database marketing, director of strategic marketing, vice president of database and analytics and senior vice president of marketing and analytics. Mason has an MBA and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. “Clay is also a long-time member of our casino operations team, who like Dan has been with us from the beginning, and his knowledge and experience with the inner workings of our organization will provide him with the necessary perspective and insight to fulfill the role,” Tribal Chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority Matthew Wesaw said in a statement. The Pokagon Band operates casinos in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac in southwest Michigan and in South Bend, Ind.
• The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has selected Edmund Manydeeds, an enrolled member of South Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux tribe, to serve as president for the 2021-2022 school year. Manydeeds is the first Native American to serve as president of the 18-member board, and was the first Native American board member when he was appointed in 2010. He serves as an attorney based in Eau Claire, Wis. The University of Wisconsin system has 13 universities and 26 campuses. In the new role, Manydeeds will oversee the search for a new University of Wisconsin system president.
• First Nations Development Institute and The Henry Luce Foundation are accepting grant applications for the 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship. The two-year program offers fellows a chance to engage in a self-directed enrichment program to “support the growth, development, knowledge and networks of Indigenous knowledge holders and knowledge makers.” Now in its third year, the program will award 10 fellowships at $75,000 each. Applications are due by 5 p.m. MDT, Tuesday, July 13.
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