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$50 million earmarked for Indigenous community development

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Mark Moran

(Big Sky Connection) Native American Bank has been chosen to administer $50 million in grants from the U.S. Treasury Department to bolster low-income Native American community projects and businesses in Plains states.

The Treasury Department has given Native American Bank the authority to invest in disadvantaged Indigenous communities often lacking access to the capital they need to start and maintain viable, sustainable businesses on tribal reservations or other American Indian-owned land.

Joel Smith, chief credit officer for the Denver-based Native American Bank, said in northern Montana, the investments will show up in the construction of community service facilities on and around the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Browning.

"We're looking at a lot of health care clinics, wellness centers, behavioral health or opioid recovery centers," Smith outlined. "In addition to child care and schools."

The $50 million program part of a larger, $5 billion federal investment designed to spur economic growth in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.

Smith emphasized the federal investment will fill the gaps remaining on Indian land not currently covered despite bank and grant funding.

"When you layer this on top of it, gets the project across the finish line," Smith stressed. "In that regard, it's one of the most impactful things because it's making projects happen that really would not otherwise."

Along with new and much-needed community services, Smith added the investment will also create jobs in the communities where the facilities are built.