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The ANA Messenger: The Economic Development Issue

Winter 2012

Published: March 8, 2013
Audience:
Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), All
Types:
Newsletter

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Division of Policy, Planning and Evaluation Update

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This is a busy time for the Division of Policy, Planning and Evaluation (DPPE) at the Administration for Native Americans (ANA). Currently, we are writing the 2012 Congressional Report. ANA visits over 70% of all grantees to evaluate their impact and learn the stories of the staff, participants, and beneficiaries. In addition to collecting data and sharing the stories of the great work grantees are doing, DPPE team members write a report to Congress. Each project visited is represented in the report and includes details about the background of the grantee, the grant’s purpose and objectives, their accomplishments, and the outcomes. This is one of the ways DPPE highlights and shares the work ANA and its grantees are doing in Indian Country.

In this issue ANA is highlighting the economic development projects visited this last impact session. Economic Development is a key focus of ANA and many of its grantees. This year alone we visited over 40 Social and Economic Development (SEDS) grants. Ranging from a farm-to-table program in Hawaii to an entrepreneurship training program in South Dakota, these projects help unleash the creative and industrious power in Indian Country to address the pressing needs for jobs and services, as well as to help grow community-based and community-run economic development. Two such projects, the Four Bands Community Fund and the Lakota Fund, both in South Dakota, are featured below.

Four Bands Community Fund

Four Bands Community Fund is a Native American community development financial institution based in South Dakota. Founded in 2000, it has grown to be the leading organization on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in the areas of small business training and lending, entrepreneurship education, and financial literacy. Four Bands encourages the economic development and quality of life for all communities and residents on the reservation.

From September 2010 to September 2012, Four Bands implemented a project designed to prepare local entrepreneurs to start or diversify 20 businesses. Four Bands recruited interested entrepreneurs and paired them with business mentors. This mentor-entrepreneur relationship allowed entrepreneurs to research, develop, and write business plans with the assistance of experienced local business leaders and the Four Bands business development manager. Staff and participants developed the business plans based on the analysis and recommendations of a report commissioned by Four Bands entitled “Expanding the Business-to-Business Marketplace on the Cheyenne River Reservation.” This report, the product of a partnership with the Washington University in St. Louis, outlined specific steps necessary to build and sustain specific types of businesses well-suited for the market and infrastructure of Cheyenne River and Eagle Butte.

Through the work of Four Bands, 20 businesses were created or expanded during the project period. These businesses included a certified public accountant firm; general construction, roofing, and dry wall companies; a quilt-making business; a maid service; and a life insurance broker. Many businesses were able to increase their size from one or two employees to six, eight, and more. These businesses were able to succeed because Four Bands did extensive planning and market research before hand to determine the level of support and ability for certain businesses to flourish in the community.

The Lakota Fund

Beginning in 2009, ANA helped create the first credit union on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  The Lakota Federal Credit Union, a community credit union with a low-income designation that will serve approximately 40,000 people, received its charter from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on August 29, 2012, and its doors opened on November 15, 2012. Prior to the Lakota Federal Credit Union (LFCU) there was no bank or credit union the 2.2 million acres of Pine Ridge Reservation.

Among other services, the LFCU will offer unsecured and secured loans, direct deposits, check cashing, online banking, and ATM cards; there will be ATM machines placed in strategic locations throughout the reservation. While projections predict the credit union will have 250 members by the end of its first year of operation and 570 by the end of the second year, staff reported it is likely they will exceed these projections, based on the 534 membership pledges they collected during the project period.

Additionally, LFCU offers youth financial mastery and entrepreneurship programs encompassing training, summer camp, and a business plan competition, to operate in the high schools and elementary schools on the reservation. The program piloted a financial literacy curriculum with 60 students at Pine Ridge High School. LFCU also developed credit builder and contractor business loan programs. From 2009 to 2012, Lakota Funds approved 33 credit builder loans totaling $66,000; of these only two have been written off, and the other 31 have been paid in full or are still active. The largest increase in a credit score as a result of these loans was 90 points, with an average increase of 31 points. Lakota Funds also began offering contractor business loans, totaling $641,500. None of these loans have been written off, and they are now the best performing loan product.

Tribal and community members now have access to savings and lending without the time and expense of having to travel off-reservation. Improved access to credit has enabled businesses on the reservation to bid on projects and ensure more jobs stay local, and community members reported significant benefits as a result of improved credit scores, including retaining employment and being able to purchase a home for the first time.

 

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