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Minority Business Development Agency: Helping Rural Business Owners Create Jobs

Image of products from Sister Sky

Since the start of this administration, the Minority Business Development Agency has helped minority-owned firms gain access to $7 billion in contracts. Those firms are located in cities and rural communities throughout the country. However, what these firms have in common is their tenacity, innovation and creativity.

MBDA has made a point of ensuring that minority-owned firms are given access through our 50 center touch points located throughout the country. Among our MBDA business centers is the Native American Business Enterprise Center (NABEC) program.

Each NABEC leverages project staff and professional consultants to provide a wide range of direct business assistance services to eligible Native American, tribal entity and minority-owned firms.

MBDA’s NABEC services include initial consultation and assessments, business technical assistance, and access to federal and non-federal procurement and finance opportunities.

Two firms, Sister Sky and Marion Trucking & Construction are examples of companies located in rural areas and using the services of MBDA through its NABEC locations.

Monica Simeon and Marina Turning-Robe are sisters who operate Sister Sky, which sells natural spa products for health and wellness. The siblings are members of the Spokane tribe, located in rural Eastern Washington, where unemployment is hovering around 50 percent. Sister Sky is one of the few small businesses on the reservation and it is committed to creating jobs and economic diversification beyond casinos.

Terry L. Marion of Marion Trucking & Construction, based in Dunseith, North Dakota, which is primarily a Native American community of about 900 people and located in north central North Dakota approximately 13 miles from both the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, where Marion is a member and only 13 miles from the Canadian border.

Marion has been a client of the North Dakota/South Dakota Native American Business Enterprise Center since 2003. During this time, Marion’s company has grown significantly. The company started at about $100,000 per ye`ar in trucking and construction and progressed to about $12 million in gross earnings in 2010. He expects to maintain the same numbers in 2011.

The company’s services include underground utilities, as well as building roads. Marion has had general contracting jobs as large as $14 million.

The success stories are growing as MBDA continues to help minority-owned firms reach their full potential.

Recently, MBDA held a series of stakeholder webinars reaching out to the various ethnic chambers including the Native American Chamber of Commerce, which offered unprecedented access not only to MBDA, but to the administration through Michael Blake, associate director, White House Office of Public Engagement; Ari Matusiak, executive director, White House Business Council; as well as our own Donald Chapman, senior adviser to the Secretary on Native American Affairs.

At the Department of Commerce, Chapman is charged with helping implement the secretary’s agenda to directly improve the economic profile of Indian Country through both economic business development and policy implementation activities. He is coordinating the Tribal Consultation Policy implementation across all of the Commerce agencies and bureaus as well as serving as the secretary’s tribal liaison and Indian Country economic development lead.

Chapman is a member of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and has made a career in working as a senior executive for numerous tribal companies and outreach entities.

MBDA’s mission for economic prosperity and job creation requires continued support for firms regardless to their geographic location or unique challenges.

Eliminating discriminatory barriers and thereby creating financial opportunity in communities of color is the most effective means to secure personal and family well-being and to reduce dependence on government services.

MBDA Native American Business Enterprise Centers (NABEC) include Arizona Statewide, New Mexico Statewide, California Statewide, North/South Dakota Statewide, Oklahoma Statewide, and the Seattle center which serves the Northwest.

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I think it is wonderful to help those who have a vision, a dream for a new beginning...If i had the funds and business know how i would start up and operate a Kannery............


How is it we apply for a Minority Business Grant.

Best place to start is MBDA

MBDA has centers throughout the US that can help you. If you want to do some research on your own, start here: