Senate Passes Hoeven Legislation to Boost Economic Development in Native Communities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today released the following statement after the Senate passed his bill, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2017 (S. 1116). The legislation would amend existing law to improve access to capital, promote opportunities for Indian businesses and encourage investment in tribal communities. 

“Many communities throughout Indian Country still face unnecessary barriers to economic opportunity and development,” said Hoeven. “This legislation addresses many of these challenges and empowers Indian tribes and other businesses to invest, innovate and create the good paying jobs that are necessary for families to achieve economic security. By streamlining regulations and enhancing tools for tribal businesses, we can attract capital to Indian Country and help entrepreneurs succeed with new enterprises.” 

“We applaud the leadership of Chairman Hoeven and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to champion economic development legislation vital to Indian Country,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. “The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act includes many of the National Center’s top priorities, including improving economic and community development programs, enhancing access to capital, and better interagency coordination and prioritization for Indian Country initiatives. We hope this important legislation soon becomes law.” 

Hoeven’s legislation will spur economic growth and increase access to capital by amending and improving three existing laws in the following ways:

 Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion and Tourism Act of 2000

  • Require coordination between the Secretaries of Commerce, Interior and Treasury to develop initiatives encouraging investment in Indian communities. 
  • Elevate the director of Indian programs in the Department of Commerce and authorize funding for operations. 
  • Make permanent the waiver of the requirement for Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide a matching cost share for assistance received by the Treasury CDFI.

Native American Programs Act

  • Reauthorize the economic development programs. 
  • Prioritize applications and technical assistance for building tribal court systems and code development for economic development, supporting CDFIs and developing master plans for community and economic development.

Buy Indian Act

  • Facilitate the use of Indian business procurement and require more accountability by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service in implementing the Act.

 The legislation was introduced on May 11, 2017 and passed the committee, as amended, on May 17, 2017. It will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.