U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Approximately $45 Million to Grow the Indigenous Finance Sector in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming Through American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge

September 02, 2022

President Biden announced the Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $45 million in grants to the Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition, led by Four Bands Community Fund, to  grow the Indigenous finance sector and expand economic opportunity in Native American communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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. “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.”

“EDA is proud to support the vision of the Four Bands Community Fund and its coalition partners,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment supports a first-of-its kind, cohesive model for Native communities that will pave the path for transformative private investment in Tribal communities most in need.”

The Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region’s economic transformation and competitiveness.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.

The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies 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. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.

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