Tuesday night in Talequah, Oklahoma, SBA’s Deputy Administrator Marie Johns and I had the chance to talk with nearly 20 young Native American entrepreneurs. They had great ideas for building businesses, ranging from construction to IT, to defense contracting. As someone who grew up in a small-business family on a reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina, I could relate to their needs, concerns, and questions.
Today, I work with Native entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the U.S., helping them find the tools they need to grow and create jobs. For example, we helped over 500 firms owned by Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to get SBA loans and microloans in the fiscal year that just ended.
Today, the most important way we can continue to help these small businesses is through the President’s proposals in the American Jobs Act. For example, President Obama has proposed cutting in half payroll taxes, which will help more than 20,000 Native American owned businesses as they continue to grow and create jobs.
In addition, about 1.5 million Native American workers – throughout urban, rural, reservation and village communities – will benefit from the extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut, giving them and their families more money to keep our local economies strong at this critical time.
This Friday, the SBA’s Administrator Karen Mills and other leaders throughout the Administration will be hosting the third White House Tribal Nations Conference to discuss these and other issues affecting our communities.
I will be excited to share with them the accomplishments that SBA has made in recent years: from high-intensity training for over 200 Native American entrepreneurs, to technology transfer partnerships between tribal colleges and local businesses, to counseling for Native American veterans, and more.Also, last month, as part of National Native American Heritage Month, I hosted SBA’s web chat with Native business owners throughout the U.S. to underscore economic growth and job creation for Native Americans.
Looking forward to 2012, we will be working even harder, with new primers and distance learning courses targeted at increasing the strength and number of successful Native-American owned businesses.
Last night, as I listened to the young entrepreneurs that I met, I was reminded again of the power and strength of America’s entrepreneurial spirit in Indian Country. Let’s make sure that both today’s and tomorrow’s Native American job creators have the tools they need to build a business and create jobs.
Christopher James is the Assistant Administrator for Native American Affairs, U.S. Small Business Administration.