Indian Affairs Announces Proposed IEED Rule to Support Entrepreneurship in Indian Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Indian Affairs today announced that the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) has published a proposed rule to establish the Indian Business Incubators Program (IBIP), in accordance with the Native American Business Incubators Program Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-174). The proposed rule sets out who is eligible for the program, how to apply, how the IEED will evaluate applications and make awards, and how it will administer the program.

The IBIP will provide competitive grants to eligible applicants to establish and operate business incubators that serve entrepreneurs (start-up and early-stage businesses) who will provide products or services to tribal reservation communities.

The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is June 14, 2021. In addition, tribal consultation sessions will be held on it via webinar on May 12 and 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Details for registering for the sessions can be found in the Federal Register notice on the proposed rule that published today.

“Entrepreneurship has a long history in Indian Country, and the Department of the Interior is proud to support businesses in tribal communities,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “The Indian Business Incubators Program supports the goals of tribal self-determination by promoting tribal economic self-sufficiency. I encourage tribal leaders to share their perspectives on this proposed rule.”

A business incubator is an organization that assists entrepreneurs in becoming viable businesses by providing advice and services to entrepreneurs to navigate obstacles in transforming their innovative ideas into operational businesses. Examples of services that a business incubator may provide are workspace and facilities, advice on how to access capital, business education, counseling, and networking and mentorship opportunities.

Congress found that in addition to the challenges all entrepreneurs face when transforming ideas into profitable business enterprises, they also face an additional set of challenges that require special knowledge when they want to provide products and services in tribal reservation communities. It further found that the business incubator model is suited to accelerating entrepreneurship in such communities, promoting collaboration to address challenges and providing individually tailored services to overcome obstacles that are unique to each participating business, ultimately stimulating economic development in reservation communities.

In accordance with the Act’s requirement for promulgation of regulations within 180 days of the Act’s enactment (i.e., by April 18, 2021), the IEED published the proposed rule for notice and comment.

Visit the IEED website for more information about this and other IEED programs and services.