Over 100 government officials, federal program representatives, non-profit organizations, and Native entrepreneurs came together recently to advance Indian business development in South Dakota.
The conference, held this summer in Rapid City, South Dakota, focused on the theme, “Inspiring a New Native America.” The 2011 South Dakota Indian Business Conference featured new elements designed for the Native entrepreneur, including the Resource Track of sessions full of information to help build business, the Coaching Corner staffed by professional technical assistance providers to offer resources and information, and complimentary exhibit booth space for Native entrepreneurs.
In addition, the list of conference speakers was packed full of key policy makers and federal officials. Conference attendees were able to take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear from and interact with some of the most highly esteemed professionals in the Native community and economic development field. Among those addressing the group was South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks.
Highlights of the 2011 South Dakota Indian Business Conference included opening remarks by South Dakota Indian Business Alliance’s Chair, Tanya Fiddler, who presented conference attendees with a look into our “New Native America” where the economic momentum index on the Reservations exceeds that of the state. Data showed that real progress has been made in the way of increasing income and developing new businesses.
Break-out sessions highlighting USDA-Rural Development Business and Cooperative Programs and USDA Rural Utilities Telecom and Broadband. Policy roundtable discussions on opportunities and challenges remaining in the areas of governance, infrastructure, financing, and resources as related to Indian business development.
There was also a presentation and performance by Frank Waln, a 21-year-old Native entrepreneur from the Rosebud Reservation successfully pursuing a music career. His hip-hop group, Nake Nula Waun, gave an inspiring performance for conference-goers on the second day of the conference.