May 1, 2012
Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships (1.3 MB PDF)
A Summary of Challenges, Recommendations, and Promising Efforts
The 2011 Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Partnerships and Progress (GEIC) workshop series was an interagency effort with a threefold purpose: first, to spur conversations for effectively tackling economic development issues facing Indian Country; second, to raise awareness of federal assistance programs; and third, to highlight best practices of economic development strategies that are showing promise in Indian Country. GEIC evolved out of a similar series sponsored in 2010 by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the economic development subcommittee of the Interagency Working Group on Indian Affairs, a White House initiative. Building on the strength of the 2010 initiative, the 2011 GEIC workshop series expanded to nine federal agencies and four Federal Reserve Bank partners, and workshops were held at six locations across the country. The GEIC was innovative in nature, predicated on government collaboration, and focused on a singular cause: Indian Country.
The topics discussed at the workshops varied by location to address and examine regional issues. Attendance at the workshops was free, and events were designed as "town hall" meetings where attendee participation and knowledge sharing was the centerpiece. The most important objective of GEIC was to hear from members of the community about the barriers to economic development in Native American communities and strategies being employed to overcome those barriers. Efforts were made to keep each workshop informal and focused on community input. To that end, the series cultivated an open and honest environment that encouraged candid participation from the audience. Each workshop included listening sessions on current barriers to community development, roundtable discussions from the perspective of community leaders, presentations on the funding programs of federal agency partners, and case studies of best practices and effective economic development strategies being employed in Indian Country today.
The series attracted almost 600 participants from 30 different states, including more than 100 tribal representatives from 63 unique tribes. Participation also included representatives from at least 36 community development financial institutions (CDFIs), 22 federal and state government agencies, 17 university and research institutions, 9 regulated financial institutions, and 7 financial institution regulatory agencies.
Many outcomes were achieved by the workshop series. The GEIC gathered key community stakeholders; connected government officials with practitioners; brought attention to many pressing economic issues in Native American communities across the country; and, in some cases, launched or advanced ongoing efforts in local communities. For example, as an outcome of the GEIC workshop hosted in Phoenix in 2011, the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs launched a Tribal Economic Development Task Force that meets with stakeholders on a quarterly basis. And as a follow-up to the GEIC workshop hosted at the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in 2011, a Wisconsin Indian Economic Development Committee has been formed to collaborate on a number of initiatives, including the creation of a resource guide for Indian economic development professionals that is intended to build awareness of programs and services available for Native American business owners.
Another important outcome is the partnership that has been formed by the participating federal agencies and regulators to unify the efforts of the federal government's Native American economic development initiatives. Indeed, the GEIC series has set a precedent for interagency communication and collaboration, leveraging many federal resources in a way that has not been done for Indian Country before.
To share the wide range of views and ideas that surfaced in the GEIC series, the working group has prepared this report. In addition, the working group continues to meet and share resources as it looks to increase its collaborative efforts and form new partnerships. The hope is that the GEIC series will serve as a model and launching pad for future interagency efforts in Indian Country.
For more information on the Federal Reserve System's work on issues facing Indian Country visit the following sites: