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Native coalition group to receive $45 million

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The Mountain | Plains regional Native CFDI Coalition, led by the Four Bands Community Fund in Eagle Butte, will receive about $45 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration.

The Biden administration announced the coalition as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a regional economic development competition. The grants will be used to grow the Indigenous finance sector and expand economic opportunity in Native American communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of the EDA's many programs aimed at building strong regional economics and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.

With $45 million in funding from EDA, the Coalition – through an alliance of nine Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) – will provide financial investment to Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs that will drive business development and job creation. The creation of a locally led financing infrastructure aims to reverse decades of historical disinvestment and institutionalized inequities for Native communities.

EDA funding will also support a training program, improve data infrastructure, and make other investments that will expand the capacity of the Indigenous financial sector. The coalition presents a first-of-its kind, cohesive model for Native communities to develop a sustainable private sector while also establishing economic sustainability and resilience.

“For too long, Native American communities in the region have been left behind. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides bold investments to transform these local economies and stand up a stronger, beneficial workforce that places the needs of the community and equity at the forefront,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in a news release. “The Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition will expand economic opportunity in Native American communities that will drive business development, job creation and innovation for decades to come."

The other winners will receive awards between $25 and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness.

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