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HELENA, Mont. — The eight federally recognized American Indian tribes in Montana shared in a $160,000 grant program aimed at supporting Native-owned small businesses. 

The $20,000 will go to each tribe’s economic development or business development organization, according to the Montana Department of Commerce. 

The department’s Native American Business Advisors (NABA) program is intended to assist tribal entrepreneurs in starting or expanding their companies and offer help with applications for the Montana Indian Equity Fund grants for Native-owned small businesses. As well, the tribes can use the funding to help Native entrepreneurs with technical assistance in writing business plans and accessing financial counseling services.

Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice described these new and growing Native-owned businesses as “vital to the sustainable development of local economies across Montana.” 

The $20,000 awards went to: Bear Paw Development Corporation (Chippewa Cree Tribe), Nakoda-Aaniiih Credit Agency (Ft. Belknap Indian Community), Great Northern Development Corporation (Ft. Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes), NACDC Financial Services (Blackfeet Tribe), Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, People’s Partners for Community Development (Northern Cheyenne Tribe), Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation (Crow Tribe), CSKT Tribal Economic Development Department (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes). 

“The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes appreciate our continued work with the Montana Department of Commerce Indian Country Economic Development Programs to assist tribal entrepreneurs in obtaining capital for their business start-ups and expansion,” Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Economic Development Planning Director Janet Camel said in a statement. “This program is a tremendous boost to our local business owners and we look forward to helping those businesses achieve success.”

The Native American Business Advisors grant can go to Native American community-based organizations, tribal colleges, and tribal government organizations that support private-sector business development on reservations and in tribal communities. 

The state developed the program to help grow entrepreneurship among Native American communities and improve the state and tribal economy. 

The funding follows a call from the Department of Commerce for applications for the 2021 Indian Equity Fund program, which offers $7,000 to $14,000 in grant funding for small businesses. 

The program will give away a total of $320,000 next year. Applications are open through Sept. 30.

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