During the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 71st Annual Marketplace & Convention, I had the privilege to host “Made in Native America: A Workshop on Native Business Exporting”. In this seminar, Tribal leaders and Native business owners came together to discuss the benefits and challenges of moving Native-made/Native-harvested products abroad.
“I believe as we start growing and working together, we’ll never have the poverty that we’ve seen in Indian Country,” says Karlene Hunter, CEO of Native American Natural Foods, during the workshop’s first panel. She continued by remarking, “You need to know your market. You need to know your capacity.”
Economic growth draws from a variety of sources, and business owners may not always know what exporting means or how to promote goods and services on an international market. Did you know that tourism is considered an export?
This dialogue could not have happened without partnership from across the Federal family and NCAI. Earlier this year, the White House Rural Council requested the continuation of the “Made in Rural America” export series, with a Native focus. Similarly, the Small Business Administration hosted a tribal export session in conjunction with the “Made in Rural America” series last summer in Oregon City, Oregon. Both NCAI and the American Indian/Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) came forward, requesting USDA help highlight the benefits of nation-to-nation trading and tourism at NCAI’s conference.
Export assistance is offered by a variety of Federal agencies and programs in a way that is sometimes difficult to navigate. The Office of Tribal Relations is here to bring the right people to the table, but we need feedback. If you are interested in exporting or are currently exporting products, I encourage you to contact my office at Tribal.Relations@osec.usda.gov.
November is Native American Heritage Month. This Saturday, November 29, 2014 is Small Business Saturday® – a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Please join the SBA and organizations across the country in supporting your local small business by shopping at a small business.