The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is the most firmly established national, non-profit organization in Indian Country, having been solely dedicated to developing American Indian economic self-sufficiency through business ownership for 44 years. The National RES, its signature event, is the largest and longest running American Indian business expo in the nation. It is also the NCAIED’s annual fundraising event, helping to support its various programs and initiatives throughout Indian Country.
Gary Davis, the new president and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, has contributed to the National RES for the past decade as a vendor, its host and emcee and NCAIED board member. This will be the first year that the national event includes his fresh approach to business in Indian Country – which includes, among other visions, the idea that the power of the National RES should be grown by way of regional summits throughout the year.
“Among the many economic development initiatives that we are spearheading at the NCAIED, we’re very focused on building relationships between corporate America and our tribes and tribal enterprises,” he said. “Each of these new relationships has the potential to provide sustainable revenue and further diversify Indian Country’s economic base. We will continue to grow these relationships throughout the year at our National and Regional Reservation Economic Summits.” Indian Country is continually strengthening its presence on the national and global business scene. The U.S. Census Bureau, for example, reports that American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned businesses made $3.7 billion in 1987, $8.1 billion in 1992, $26.9 billion in 2002 and $34 billion in 2007.
The NCAIED has been fueling this extraordinary growth, helping to shape it and encourage its distinctly Native character. The National Center is vigilant about operating through its First Principals, a statement of the highest aspirations and the oldest elements of Native culture, as it fosters procurement opportunities between Native Americans and major companies that are rapidly recognizing and embracing this world-class event. Each year, countless Native-owned businesses are forged and strengthened because of the vibrant energy and the phenomenal opportunities that abound over the several days of RES.
This year, the Annual RES business trade show included exhibits from Fortune 500 corporations, tribes, tribal enterprises, federal agencies, small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those at the American Indian Artisan Market. The Procurement Pavilion was integrated into the trade show this year, with prospective suppliers meeting with buyers at their booths on the trade show floor. Time dedicated to procurement meetings was doubled from one day to two days. And an expanded offering of receptions, mixers and meals encouraged more networking than ever before.
As extraordinary as National RES 2013 was, Davis is committed to making sure its reach expands beyond Las Vegas – and well beyond a once-a-year occurrence. Last year, the first Regional RES, “RES Oklahoma”, happened in November at the Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and was presented by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation Businesses.
RES Arizona takes place in October at the Wildhorse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler, Arizona and is being presented by Chukchansi, Inc. This event will present the 38th Annual Indian Progress in Business (INPRO) awards and the 5th Annual “Native American 40 under 40” Awards.
Davis envisions more such events – national in scope but sited regionally – throughout the year that will both carry forward and expand on the National RES.
And there’s no reason we can’t think even bigger, he says; Davis sees no reason why Indian Country can’t shine in international trade. He visited the White House this past year to unveil NCAIED’s new Native American Global Trade Center.
“At a time when diversifying our economic vision has never been more important,” Davis said, “the National Center’s role in fostering global relations between Indian Country and other countries to facilitate new opportunities beyond the U.S. is the future.”