Assistant Secretary Tara Sweeney Announces 2019 NABDI Grants Totaling $727,229 Awarded to 21 American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes

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Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney is proud to announce that the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) awarded business development grants totaling $727,229 to 21 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. Over half of the awards are for proposed or existing projects located in Opportunity Zones.

The awards from IEED’s Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Feasibility Study Program will enable tribal leaders to better evaluate and identify viable economic opportunities for their communities.

“Native American Business Development Institute grants are a cost-effective means that tribal governments can utilize to investigate whether or not potential economic activities are viable for them and their communities,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney said.  “They must consider all ways, including Opportunity Zones, that will help them build sustainable tribal economies that generate revenue, meet community needs and create jobs.  The 2019 NABDI awardees are a reflection of how seriously tribal leaders view their goals for creating economic self-determination.  These grants are just one of the ways we assist them in achieving their goals.”

NABDI awards fund feasibility studies that weigh the viability and risks of an economic development project, opportunity, enterprise, or business or the practicality of a technology a tribe may choose to pursue. The studies may be used to determine the likelihood of success for businesses in specific American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

When performed by a reputable third party, an economic development feasibility study also can be used to help persuade lenders and investors to provide financial backing.  A study that concludes a project is worthwhile and financially sustainable can often fulfill many of the lender’s or investor’s due diligence requirements by answering questions about a project’s chances of success, resulting in a more rapid loan approval or better loan terms.  Feasibility studies can also be used to examine the credibility of a project promoter and claims made regarding a specific project.

Grants are awarded on the basis of a proposal’s potential to create jobs for tribal members and stimulate economies in Native American communities.

  • Passamaquoddy Tribe – Pleasant Point, Maine: $35,000 for a proposed on-reservation project that would re-direct and re-invest monies the Tribe spends off-reservation on fuels for its tribal government-owned land and water transportation and road maintenance fleets
  • Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York: $40,000 for a feasibility study, and for business and capitalization planning, to assist the Tribe with its plans to renovate and re-purpose a historic 92-year old former hydroelectric power dam building as an art park/art gallery.