February 13, 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NNI’s “Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities” Highlighted in D.C. February 14, 2017

TUCSON, Arizona – A new Native Nations Institute (NNI) report shows both the expansion of capital and credit access in Native communities and the still substantial need for finance. Since 2001, more resources and a larger variety of resources are available to Native community members seeking to strengthen their credit, buy a home, or start a business. Likewise, tribes have more options and opportunities to access capital for the provision of physical infrastructure on reservations and to start or expand tribal enterprises.

Nonetheless, the demand for capital and credit in Indian Country still outstrips supply. One reason is ongoing economic growth in Indian Country overall: In general, Native community economies have grown over the last decade and a half, even through the Great Recession. Barriers to lending also lead to an excess of demand for capital. Among others, barriers include lenders’ wariness of tribal institutions that protect financial transactions and the need for innovation in lending on trust lands.

University of Arizona NNI Research Director Dr. Miriam Jorgensen will discuss these and other findings of the report “Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities: A Data Review” at a public meeting of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and at the “Native Access to Capital and Credit Roundtable,” both hosted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury this week in Washington, D.C.

Federal interagency partners, tribal governments and community organizations, economic development practitioners, and other interested stakeholders may participate in a live webcast of the Roundtable event scheduled for February 14, 2017, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. EST and hosted by the Treasury’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the Office of Financial Security, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency with participation from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the University of Arizona Native Nations Institute. Email hartc(at)cdfi.treas.gov for additional live webcast link information.

Data describing capital and credit access for Native Community residents, businesses, communities, and governments are relatively scarce. Both the 2016 report and 2017 data review seek to address this gap and raise critical questions, such as:

Where does Native America stand now in terms of capital and credit access?
What has been the effect of new action and new approaches by policymakers and financial entrepreneurs?
What are Native Communities’ ongoing and future capital and needs?

In particular, the data review begins to answer these questions by using a range of datasets to document the evolution of Native Communities’ capital access since 2001. The data review’s three main sections summarize data describing access to capital and credit for Native consumers, Native business owners, and tribal communities and governments. Its companion document, the “Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities Report”, published in May 2016, identifies success stories within a more detailed topical analysis. The full two-part study is intended to provide research and analysis in support of further improvements in access to capital and credit in Native Communities.

Both the report and the data review were funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), with additional support provided by the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. While these funders’ support was crucial, the views expressed in this report are solely those of the authors.

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