For more information contact:
Julie Fedorchak, Communications Manager
701-328-5300 or 701-391-1140
Commerce Launches American Indian Business Office
Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Commerce today launched the opening of the American Indian Business Office focused on helping American Indian businesses leverage government procurement opportunities, access state and federal resources and facilitate partnerships between Indian and non-Indian businesses.
“This office will provide easy access to the people, programs and services that are available to support American Indian business owners and entrepreneurs,” Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle said. “These resources can play a tremendous role in helping launch a successful new business or grow an existing one.”
Commerce is contracting with Impact Foundation, a regional, donor-focused philanthropic organization, to operate the program. Impact Foundation also recently launched a procurement assistance center to help rural North Dakota businesses supply their products and services to federal, state and local agencies. Christine Martin-Goldsmith is director of both the procurement assistance center and the American Indian Business office, and both programs are headquartered in Bismarck.
Martin-Goldsmith envisions providing hands-on services to clients by establishing relationships with federal buyers; setting up clients on bid-match software; providing strategic analysis; helping clients create web sites for government contracting; and creating a web site of all non-Indian companies that would like to partner with minority- owned businesses on government contracts.
“My intent is to work with the American Indian-owned firms to help them take advantage of available opportunities like they have never done before,” Martin-Goldsmith said. “North Dakota is close to the bottom of national rankings in terms of firms that provide products or services to the government. It can be very complex and complicated, but government contracts can have a huge impact on a business.”
Jim Laducer, president of Laducer & Associates of Mandan, can attest to that. His company is a large information management business with 300 employees. They competed for and won a large, national government contract, which in turn led to another large non-governmental contract.
“A lot of federal agencies in North Dakota contract for work but much of it leaves the state – everything from food services, to roads, to homes and buildings,” Laducer, who is serving on an advisory board for the American Indian Business Office, said. “The intent of this program is to keep the work in state and maximize the benefit of these opportunities for Native American and North Dakota businesses.”
The Legislature passed a directive in the 2005 session to create the office. House Majority Leader Rick Berg of Fargo was a proponent of the legislation and sees it as another part of job development.
“There is a tremendous workforce on the reservations. One of the goals of this program is to connect American Indian business men and women with more avenues to grow their businesses and create new jobs,” Berg said. “Our hope is that this office will be an economic bridge to generate employment opportunities on the reservations and grow our state’s economy.”
Martin-Goldsmith said there are 129 American Indian companies in North Dakota that are currently registered to bid on government contracts. Of those, only a fraction have web sites and very few have sites specifically targeting government buyers.
“Technology has changed government contracting. Buyers want to be able to look on a web site and learn more about a company, its products and services,” Martin-Goldsmith said. “Obviously, this is one of the first things a business needs to do in order to successfully sell to the government.”
Today, most American Indian-owned firms in North Dakota are construction related and there are fewer service, retail or wholesale businesses. However, Martin-Goldsmith hopes to encourage new businesses to emerge in these areas. She said there are some very enticing incentives available for American Indian owned companies, especially veteran-owned companies.
To contact the American Indian Business Office or the Procurement Assistance Center, call Martin-Goldsmith at 328-5309 or email her at [email protected].
The American Indian Business Office is one of several recent initiatives aimed at improving North Dakota’s business climate and assisting existing businesses and entrepreneurs. Others include the Centers of Excellence program, the North Dakota Business Hotline and the North Dakota Trade Office.
The North Dakota Department of Commerce is the lead agency charged by the Governor and state Legislature with growing North Dakota and improving the quality of life for North Dakota people. Commerce serves businesses and communities statewide through four divisions: Community Services, Economic Development and Finance, Workforce Development, and Tourism. The agency has hundreds of partners -- local, state, federal, public, private, and non-profit – and is the primary facilitator for all entities involved in the economic and community development process. For more information, contact www.ndcommerce.com, or call the Business Hotline at 866-4DAKOTA.