Jodi Rave: Res2007 highlights tribal economies

"Welcome to Res2007, the longest-running business and trade fair in the United States, organized annually by the Mesa, Ariz.-based National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, or NCAIED. The four-day event ended Thursday.

Scott Gregory, vice president of NCAIED, said networking opportunities are one of the main attractions that draw thousands of people to the summit, which was held at the Las Vegas Hilton, and where representatives of corporate America, the federal government and small businesses spent time mingling, meeting and making deals.

The economic summit has proved a popular event since it began 21 years ago as a way to help Native entrepreneurs connect with big business and get established in the world of federal contracting.

This year's conference focused on creating sustainable economies. Participants packed into rooms to listen to business experts extol the dangers and virtues of doing business in a global society. An accompanying trade show amassed 300 exhibitors, ranging from information technology companies to youth magazines.

“This started out in 1987 as a brown bag lunch,” said Gregory. “If they got 30 or 40 people there, they thought they were doing good. Today, we have 2,500 people here.”

The growth in attendance mirrors the dramatic changes taking place in Indian economies and communities, driven by the gambling industry and entrepreneurs representing tribes and individuals from urban and reservation communities across the nation.

Native Americans had a purchasing power of $19 billion at the close of the 1990s, according to a University of Georgia study. In a 2005 follow-up study, the economic purchasing power of Native people had leaped to $34.8 billion.

Res2007 leaders aim to keep those numbers growing."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Native economy focus of Res2007 (The Missoulian 3/18)

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