The Montana Department of Commerce announced on Monday, August 28, 2023, that application periods for four grant programs aimed at bolstering tribal business development and strengthen indigenous entrepreneurship in Montana are now open. The grant funding is provided by Commerce’s Office of Indian Country Economic Development.
“These initiatives underline Commerce’s dedication to provide not just funding, but a platform for innovative ideas to flourish, businesses to expand and traditions to thrive,” said Scott Osterman, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce. "Through these grants, tribal businesses are empowered to drive innovation, create opportunities and shape a prosperous future for their communities."
The agency provided the following information in a news release:
- Small business owners who are enrolled members of Montana’s tribal nations are invited to apply for the Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant, a dynamic initiative aimed at fortifying the growth of small-scale enterprises. The grant serves as a catalyst for expanding the scope of indigenous entrepreneurship and enhancing local economic vitality. The IEF grant currently has $320,000 of funding available. Application period: September 1 - October 31, 2023.
- The Native American Business Advisor grant presents a valuable opportunity for aspiring indigenous entrepreneurs to access expert guidance, mentorship and resources to kickstart their business ventures. The program is designed to provide a solid foundation for success and sustainability in the competitive business landscape. The NABA grant currently has $160,000 of funding available. Application period: September 1 - October 16, 2023.
- The Tribal Business Development Grant offers tribal governments or tribally owned businesses a unique opportunity to secure funding for shovel-ready projects that will drive economic prosperity and sustainability. This grant empowers Montana’s tribally owned, for-profit business enterprises to expand, diversify, flourish and ultimately contribute to the overall progress of tribal communities. The TBDG grant currently has $240,000 of funding available. Application period: September 15 - October 25, 2023.
- In recognition of the significance of tribal culture and heritage in promoting tourism, the Tribal Tourism Grant was established to support tribal initiatives that enhance tourism offerings and showcase the rich traditions of indigenous communities. The grant funding empowers tribes to share their stories and attract visitors, ultimately contributing to economic growth and cultural exchange. The TTG grant currently has $120,000 of funding available. Application period: October 1 - November 30, 2023.
In 2022, Smoke Signal Studio, a video production company in Poplar, received $14,000 of IEF grant funding to purchase new camera equipment for cinema production and computer equipment to support the upgrade.
“The video gear and equipment I purchased through the IEF grant has allowed me to land higher quality work. I recently landed a job that was due in part to the tools and equipment I now offer as a part of my services,” said Scott Smoker, owner of Smoke Signal Studio. “The IEF grant has helped me scale my business in that I am able to meet the requirements of nearly any video job that comes my way."
Interested individuals/entities are encouraged to participate in these grant opportunities.