Klobuchar, Smith Secure Federal Funding to Boost Tribal Entrepreneurship at Mille Lacs Band

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded $3.1 million in federal funding for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Onamia, Minnesota to boost tribal entrepreneurship. Specifically, the funding, provided through the American Rescue Plan’s Indigenous Communities program, will enable the construction of a tribal business incubator to help small businesses and start-ups access technical assistance they need to increase and expand their operations.

“This federal funding will make a real difference for the Mille Lacs Band Reservation, helping establish a business incubator that will boost small businesses and spur entrepreneurship,” said Klobuchar. “I’ll keep pushing to make sure our tribal communities have the resources they need to pursue economic opportunities.”

“Minnesota’s Tribal Nations have deep cultural and economic significance across our state,” said Smith. “I am pleased to announce this investment in the Mille Lacs Band reservation in Minnesota, which will help to grow and diversify the local economy. This investment, made possible by the American Rescue Plan, will create jobs and generate private investment so that the local economy can build back stronger in the wake of the pandemic.”

“President Biden is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe business incubator project will spur private investment and job creation throughout the reservation.”

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Indigenous Communities program, which allocates $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding specifically to support the needs of Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities. The program supports these partners to develop and execute economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future.

Klobuchar and Smith have long worked to strengthen economic opportunities for Minnesota’s tribal communities. In April, they secured over $1 million in federal funding to provide emerging businesses in the Mille Lacs Band with necessary support and technical services. 

In June 2021, Klobuchar and Smith introduced legislation to eliminate barriers to broadband access for Native communities. In November 2020, they introduced bicameral legislation with Representative Angie Craig (D-MN) to expand tribal access to broadband.