LAME DEER, Mont. –– Under the recently expanded Montana Indian Equity Fund (IEF) for Small Business, individual enrolled tribal members from Montana can now apply for grants of up to $14,000 to start or expand a small business, both off and on reservation. A Montana Department of Commerce (DOC) staff person said that this fiscal year, the State plans to make multiple awards to tribal members from each Montana reservation, including the Landless Little Shell, a state-recognized tribe.
Started under the administration of Governor Brian Schweitzer (2005-2013), the IEF was greatly expanded under the leadership of current Governor Steve Bullock, who convinced the last conservative State legislature to increase funding for the State’s Indian economic development initiatives. In FY 2016, the State has $320,000 available in the IEF to provide grants (up to $14,000 to individual Indian entrepreneurs) to start or expand small businesses and includes set-aside funding to provide grants of $40,000 for each tribal government for business activity.
Governor Steve Bullock explained his commitment to the IEF and other parts of the State economic development strategy, “We cannot have statewide economic prosperity without economic prosperity for tribal nations in Montana. I am committed to continuing to fund and implement programs that help create jobs, improve the success rate of Native American businesses, address chronic issues of access to capital. Montana is leading the way in developing new and innovative programs to build up tribal economies and support Native American owned businesses. I’m pleased that even just in the past year we were able to successfully close a loophole in state law to provide for recognition of tribally owned businesses, and create a new collateral support program to improve business opportunities for tribal entrepreneurs,” he said.