Tester Pushes to Create Montana Jobs, Empower Native American Entrepreneurs

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring legislation to create jobs and empower Native American entrepreneurs in Montana and across the country.

Tester’s bill, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs by establishing and funding business incubators in Indian Country to help start-up and cultivate Native American-owned small businesses.

“Montanans in Indian Country face unique obstacles when they take their business from the drawing board to a storefront in their communities,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “By providing Native American entrepreneurs with the space, networking, and resources to start a business, they can launch their careers and hire folks locally.”

Tester’s bill will provide Native American entrepreneurs with the training to deal with the regulatory uncertainty, remoteness, and difficulty accessing capital that limits many start-ups in Indian Country.

Tester’s bill will create an annual $5 million competitive grant initiative within the Interior Department to establish or maintain business incubators that serve Native American communities.

Tribal business incubators are a physical space for Native American entrepreneurs to receive assistance developing a business plan that navigates federal, tribal, and state regulations and attracts outside investment. The incubators will also provide entrepreneurs a digitally connected workspace and professional networking opportunities.

Eligible grant applicants include Tribes, institutions of higher education, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and non-profit organizations. To be considered for a grant, eligible applicants must submit a comprehensive three-year plan, provide a site description of a physical workspace, offer business skills training and education, and meet other specific requirements.