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The Cherokee Nation said it received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency in support of Cherokee citizen-owned small businesses.

The rural business grant will be used to create small business loans for Cherokee businesses, which in turn should support entrepreneurs and create community-based jobs, per a statement from the Cherokee Nation.

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The Cherokee Nation’s small business loan program makes funding available to startups, existing businesses or those who wish to purchase existing businesses when at least one applicant is a citizen of any federally recognized tribe and when the business and all applicants reside in the 14 counties of the Cherokee reservation, according to the Nation’s website.

“I measure our success as a tribe by looking at our individuals and the opportunities they have,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner in a statement. “This opportunity allows us to support small, Cherokee-owned businesses and jobs for Cherokee families. We can pave the way for those who want to be an entrepreneur, who want to show their kids a new way to live and who want to break generational trauma. Anytime we are given the opportunity to help strengthen our communities, we must take it.”

The grant builds on $1.6 million awarded to the Cherokee Nation through Rural Development since 2022. That money has helped develop initiatives such as the Women, Infants, and Children program, as well as the Farm Food Workers’ Relief Program. 

“Tribal governments are on the ground, they know their people, they know what is needed in all of their communities and they’re in a unique position to serve where sometimes the federal government cannot,” Kenneth Corn, USDA State Director of Rural Development, said in a statement.

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