- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission hopes more Native Americans will become business owners after the commission took on oversight of a business development office.

Oversight of the American Indian Business Development Office was transferred to the Indian Affairs Commission this year by the state legislature, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1OjBpy4 ) reported. It was formed in 2006 under the state Department of Commerce to help Native Americans starting or running their own business.

“I’ve always been an advocate for private-owned Native American businesses on and off the reservations. The bottom line is providing access to employment,” said Indian Affairs Commission head Scott Davis.

Since coming to the agency six years ago, he has sought to expand its focus to include business development, Davis said. Although his office primarily deals with areas including education, health care and unemployment, Davis believes creating more Native American-owned businesses on and off reservations improves access to jobs and can help lift others out of poverty.

He said having access to the Indian Affairs Commission’s ties to tribal colleges, governments and business communities might prompt more potential owners to come forward.

North Dakota has about 1,300 Native American-owned and operated businesses, said Davis, who’s unsure how many of them have benefited from the Native American Business Development Office.

North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said he supports Davis’ efforts at the Indian Affairs office.

“He’s got some very good ties with the leadership of each of the tribes. We’d find a bit more success than in the past,” Anderson said.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation recently has begun working to develop a uniform commercial code. Anderson explained that if the tribe is successful, it could encourage others to develop their own codes.

“It makes it easier to help increase business development on the reservation,” Anderson said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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