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Congressman Cole Cosponsors Legislation to Break Cycle of Poverty in Indian Country

March 28, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) cosponsored legislation to break cycles of poverty in Indian Country through smart economic development. The legislation was introduced by Native American Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) and has bipartisan support from Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA).

Native-owned business development assistance has historically been severely limited, inconsistent and not directed to business incubation. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act, H.R. 1900, would increase access to capital for business investment and growth through three-year grants with ties to tribal communities, education institutions and other organizations to expand assistance to a broad range of business sectors and incubation methods.

“I am proud to join with my colleagues in introducing the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, which rightly empowers aspiring entrepreneurs and job creators in tribal communities. This legislation affirms that when the right tools and resources are made available, it is possible to escape poverty,” said Congressman Cole.

“Investments in our human capital, our creativity and our natural ability to build businesses and revenue streams is key to economic prosperity, but often times the resources are not available for Native communities. When I was a young single mom trying to make ends meet, I started and ran a salsa company. That experience could have been so different if there was more access to resources. This bill will make sure future entrepreneurs in Indian Country can build businesses and break cycles of poverty in our communities,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

“High rates of poverty and unemployment have posed significant barriers for business owners in Indian Country. By increasing access to vital resources and investments, our bill makes it possible for Native American entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their businesses and get the tribal community’s economic engine revving,” said Congresswoman Norma Torres.

“My late wife, my children, and my grandchildren are all Alaska Native. To me, breaking the cycle of poverty in Indian Country isn’t just an important policy goal, it’s personal,” said Congressman Young. “This legislation helps empower Indigenous entrepreneurs and boost investment in our Native communities, and I am proud of its strong bipartisan support. Tackling poverty and expanding opportunity in Indian Country will continue to be a priority of mine. I strongly encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to join us in this important effort.”

Poverty and unemployment rates in tribal communities are nearly triple the national average. Federal programs designed to support the social and economic well-being of Native Americans remain chronically underfunded and sometimes inefficiently structured, which leaves many basic needs in the Native American community unmet and contributes to the inequities observed in Native American communities.