Skip to content
January 31, 2024

WATCH: Bipartisan Crane Bill Supporting Tribal Business Owners Advances Out of Committee

Watch here

Today, the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Small Business.

Tribal entrepreneurs who run businesses on reservations face complex hurdles regarding tax implications, property rights, regulatory burdens, and lending. Tribal entrepreneurs should have the ability to access SBA’s programs just like anyone else, but in reality, these communities do not experience adequate access or outreach. Most importantly, they need specialized expertise to assist them in navigating the unique complexities of running a business on a reservation – complexities mostly created by the federal government.

The Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act officially establishes the Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) within the Small Business Administration by adding it to the Small Business Act. The bill outlines specific responsibilities of ONAA, including the establishment of a working relationship with tribal groups by targeting SBA programs related to entrepreneurial development, contracting, and capital access. By codifying ONAA into the Small Business Act, the bill increases oversight of the office by requiring annual reporting to Congress.

This bill will also ensure that Congress can practice proper oversight of the office’s activities and effectiveness going forward.

“Economic development in our tribal communities is crucial—not just for those communities, but for everyone in our districts and states,” said Rep. Crane. “This bill will help draw more attention to the resources available to tribal business owners through the SBA and encourage the ONAA to continue developing new methods for outreach to ensure that tribal businesses are not overlooked—all without unnecessarily expanding government.”

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities and economy, and Tribal businesses are often important employers on reservations and their surrounding areas,” said Davids. “We must break down barriers and increase access to resources so that every entrepreneur and business owner can grow their operation and succeed, and it all begins with having a seat at the table. I appreciate the broad bipartisan support for this bill, which aims to provide Native entrepreneurs with direct access to SBA leadership.”

Rep. Crane encourages representatives from this office to come out and visit tribal communities in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District and begin a dialogue with small business owners who may be unaware that this office exists. Doing so will allow ONAA to adjust and enhance their programs so they can best serve tribal small business owners.