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NADC hosts annual Native American economic development conference

BILLINGS, Mont. – The Native American Development Corporation (NADC) held its 11th Annual Economic Development & Procurement Conference in Billings, Montana on July 30, through August 1. This year, entrepreneurship, procurement, economic development, community development, and new for 2019, healthcare was emphasized as focus areas for the organization’s flagship event.

Commencing last week on Tuesday, with free trainings for contractors and matchmaking sessions, native-owned small businesses and area government contracting officers met one-on-one to discuss potential contracting opportunities. The official kick-off came the second day and included influential keynotes, a business trade show, breakout sessions, entertainment, and networking opportunities.

This year’s theme focused on being proactive, sharing resources, celebrating successes, discovering opportunity, inspiring innovative solutions, and sustainability strategies. During the conference opening, NADC Executive Director, Leonard Smith advocated for taking-on a more positive attitude when it comes to hiring and contracting native-owned firms.

“We need to start having more confidence in our own people, in their ability to create jobs and their ability to do a good job,” he said, as he welcomed the attendees. “NADC has some of those resources to help you in those efforts, we are having success with our loan fund and our other programs.”

The general session was comprised of thought provoking presentations by MHA Nation Chairman, Mark Fox; ASU College of Law Professor, Robert Miller; Senior Vice President & National Tribal Philanthropy Leader Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations, Wells Fargo, Cora Gaane; and Chief Of The Office Of Native Affairs And Policy, Federal Communications Commission (FCC); Matthew Duchesne.

The conference also brought out the Native American community and prominent artists from across Indian Country for a special fashion show featuring five designers’ expressions of contemporary culture through stunning native style dresses and outfits. Entrepreneurs in the arts and fashion industry set up booths to sell their products.

Smith and the NADC staff were pleased with the turnout as the conference had its highest attendance, attracting native professionals from all over Indian Country including many from the desert southwest. NADC is also proud of individuals and organizations like Island Mountain Development Group and several others for the work, jobs and opportunities created in their communities.

“There was a lot of success to show this year, I am seeing more and more of our tribes and our native people that are showing us success,” Smith said, during the conferences closing. “You get so used to going everywhere else and seeing how well they’re doing and then coming back and wondering why you can’t do it here, but [now] we’re starting to see it here.”

“Maybe some of the conferences and the work a lot of us are doing in the communities is finally catching on, you know.”

For more information about NADC or the annual conference, contact Cora Chandler, Business Manager & Event Coordinator at 406-294-8057 or cchandler@nadc-nabn.org.

About NADC: Native American Development Corporation is a hub for American Indian businesses. NADC provides technical assistance, financial lending opportunities, and champions small businesses and tribes in order to empower Indian communities toward economic and social stability. http://www.nadc-nabn.org

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