September 08, 2021

Congressman Neguse Introduces Legislation to Support Native American Small Businesses

Washington D.C.—Congressman Joe Neguse, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Congresswoman Sharice Davids have introduced the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act of 2021 to give Native American small businesses a seat at the table within the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Currently, the SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) has a valuable—but limited—mission: to support Native American entrepreneurs, conduct outreach with tribal communities, and connect Native business owners with SBA resources. However, the current SBA budget does not include explicit funding for the ONAA, and the funding it does have is only enough for a few staff members. The Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act would double funding for the ONAA to $5 million annually and create an Associate Administrator position to set direction. It would also update the office’s mission to better establish a government-to-government working relationship with tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. ONAA would expand to have grant-making ability, establish field offices, conduct tribal consultation, utilize SBA’s entrepreneurial and contracting programs, and provide training, counseling, and technical assistance. 

“As Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands one of our top priorities is to ensure adequate representation and investment for our tribal communities,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act furthers that goal by providing resources to tribal businesses and ensuring that every entrepreneur can succeed. I’m grateful to partner with Congresswoman Davids and Senator Hickenlooper on this effort. When small business thrives, so do our local economies and our communities."

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities and our economy—and tribal businesses are often important employers for tribal reservations and their surrounding areas,” said Congresswoman Davids. “We must break down barriers and increase access to resources so that every entrepreneur and business owner has the opportunity to grow their business and succeed, and it starts by giving folks a seat at the table. I’m proud to introduce the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act of 2021 to do just that.”

Congressman Neguse has frequently advocated on behalf of tribal communities during his time in Congress. In April, he introduced a resolution reaffirming the federal government’s responsibility to provide access to clean drinking water for Native American communities. Further, his “Restoring our Lands and Communities” agenda as chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands centers Native voices, noting that the views of Indigenous communities are critical when considering public lands policy decisions.

The full text of the bill is available here. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).