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Q&A with David M. Gipp, President, United Tribes Technical College (UTTC)

UTTC is a partner in the Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation project that recently received a $1.7 million award as part of the Obama Administration's $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multi-agency competition to support the advancement of 20 high-growth, regional industry clusters.

David M. Gipp

David M. Gipp is president of United Tribes Technical College, an intertribal, post-secondary vocational technical college for American Indian students and their families in Bismarck, ND. Born at Fort Yates, ND, Gipp is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His Hunkpapa Lakota name, Wicahpi Isnala, translates as Lone Star.

Q. The Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation project received a $1.7 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to support a network to accelerate jobs and business development in natural resources and reduce unemployment in economically distressed tribal areas of the upper Missouri River basin. How will the United Tribes Technical College accomplish this?

A:There are three distinct activities that work toward accelerating jobs and business development in environment risk mitigation. The first is to train people in the field of environmental risk mitigation using a career ladder approach. This will allow project participants to meet and build upon short term goals and advance as far as a Bachelors degree.

The second strategy involves a particular group of tribal workers: tribal planners. This is an existing network that is key to reservation development. Tribal planners are responsible for building and sustaining economically healthy communities. The UM-TERM Project focuses on strengthening the understanding of tribal planners in the field of environmental risk mitigation. In turn, they can promote the conditions for growth in that field and help plan for mitigation projects in and around their communities.

The third strategy is to leverage Small Business Administration support that exists in the region. To this support will be added Native American-specific resources, such as the Indianpreurship Program, designed to help build businesses and succeed in tribal communities. Tribal communities in the region are characterized by high unemployment and low socio-economic conditions. They also have unique, cultural value systems that differ from the mainstream. High value is placed on families and relationships, Mother Earth and spiritual well being. These are important values that figure strongly in the definition of success and often differ from what is considered wealth in the mainstream.

Q. The project is designed to meet the region's need for qualified environmental technicians with the expertise to enable tribal entities to protect water rights, manage water and land resources, including mineral deposits and wildlife, and mitigate environmental risk. What is the current economic environment and what steps will be taken to turn it around?

A: The reservations and target areas served by the project are places where the norm is economic depression and generational unemployment. In some cases unemployment rates approach 90 percent. This project focuses on training people in the field of environmental risk mitigation, which plays an important role in achieving tribal self-determination and independent management of tribal resources. The project brings together local, private, federal, and state entities to help create the business and job opportunities.

Q. How is this partnership with federal agencies strengthening your efforts and what will the benefit be to Native American communities as federal, state, local, and tribal governmental agencies, and private businesses representing environmental fields connect and collaborate?

A: This project brings together the two most important aspects of business building and job creation: networking and education. It is rare that the two get to happen in one project, and by integrating the services of the collaborating entities it is anticipated that this holistic approach will be successful.

Spotlight: Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

(October 11, 2011)
President Obama was in Pittsburgh and touted the $1.95 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge investment to Southwestern Pennsylvania Revitalization, a partnership between the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, the Hill House Association and the University of Pittsburgh, to build growth clusters around energy and health care.
Click here to read article.

GCMIDiscussing Process With Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Winner New York Renewable Energy Cluster (NYREC): Carl Meyer, President/CEO, The Solar Energy Consortium; Judy Osburn, Grants Director , Orange County Community College (SUNY Orange); Enrique Rob Lunski, President, Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows, Inc.

Q: In developing the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a key focus was to make federal funding more accessible by reducing the burden on applicants (e.g., allowing a single narrative capped at 50 pages to apply for EDA, ETA, and SBA funding). Is this something you found helpful?

Carl Meyer, President/CEO, The Solar Energy Consortium: Yes, the single narrative was very helpful. It allowed us to build consensus on what we were proposing. And it certainly saved some time.

Judy Osburn, Grants Director, SUNY Orange: After we got a better handle on the instructions, yes, it was very helpful. 

Enrique Rob Lunski, President, Gateway To Entrepreneurial
Tomorrows:  Yes.

Q: What were the opportunities and challenges you encountered in designing your proposal, coordinating with your partners, and applying?

Meyer: In designing our proposal, it quickly became clear that EDA needed us to marry our ongoing cluster work  to one of the poorest communities in New York State. That was the challenge and it was daunting, to say the least, but we heard you loud and clear. The opportunities are substantial: we chose a city with a rich manufacturing history and a good base of motivated workers. As far as coordination with partners, that's what TSEC is all about so the grant played to our strength. We were able to mobilize fairly quickly.

We are excited about our plan and can't wait to get started.

Lunski: For GET, the biggest opportunity was becoming more educated on the services that each of the other partners provide while integrating our own specific missions into one comprehensive plan of action.

Q: Do you believe coordinated federal funding, such as the Jobs Accelerator, is an effective tool to encourage regional collaboration and accelerate job creation?

Meyer: Yes. Pooling funds from three agencies produced a sizable opportunity that got our attention, and it motivated us to put our best work forward.

Lunski: Yes, the concept of reaching out to several funding agencies with one proposal seems to work well.  At the same time it encourages collaborations among various service providers so that more individuals can served.

This grant falls along the mission that GET has to help minorities and low income people start their own businesses in the underserved urban communities across the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York State.

By focusing its work in the City of Newburgh - with one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in the Nation - the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant will help boost the city’s economy from the ground up by providing employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector to a population that needs help the most.

GET looks forward to working together with TSEC, SUNY Orange and the City of Newburgh to advance the creation of jobs and new enterprises in the city. This could well be a model that other underserved urban areas can adopt to provide for the economic growth of their people and bring in new businesses.

Hot Topic

Bio Generator

EDA Grantee WESST Recognized as One of Seven
Hot Startup Incubators

Bio Generator
Business incubators are a critical lifeline for budding entrepreneurs. These startup boot camps provide fledgling companies training, counseling, facilities, office space and the most essential element for a small business -- access to funding. Here are seven that are on fire

EXCERPT: Over the past two years, Noonan said WESST Enterprise Center has created 136 new jobs in the Albuquerque area and generated $14.3 million in revenue. Nouveau, a women-owned cosmetics company, was acquired by a larger Dallas cosmetics company one year after joining the program. And IntelliCyt, a biotech company that's not women-owned, but is graduating from the WESST incubator next month, has doubled in size and is selling its products overseas. Click here to read CNN Money article.



In 2009, EDA invested in the Women's Economic Self-Sufficiency Team (WESST) Enterprise Center, a small business incubator in Albuquerque, NM that is promoting economic and job growth. The facility houses new and expanding businesses. Since its inception, WESST has provided business training, technical assistance and financial education for over 28,000 individuals and facilitated the start-up and growth of over 2,680 small businesses.

Special Feature

Building Stronger Economies through Technology: How EDA Helps

The dedication ceremony for the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator was held on October 20, 2011 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Historically, the economy of Pennsylvanias Lehigh Valley has been heavily reliant upon traditional manufacturing. The closure of two major employers, Bethlehem Steel Corp. and Mack Trucks, challenged Valley leaders to move to a more diversified, more technology oriented economy.

To promote this transition, EDA awarded a $6 million ARRA investment to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, to support the construction of a LEED silver certified addition to the existing Ben Franklin TechVentures incubator facility at Lehigh University's Mountaintop Campus. The addition will contain wet labs, electronic labs, a conference center and multitenant office space for incubator companies.

Ben Franklin manages an award winning ten incubator network, among the largest incubator networks in the U.S., in collaboration with other economic development organizations within its 21 county region. Based on past successes, Ben Franklin estimates that the EDA investment will assist in the creation of 200 jobs and to $10 million in private sector investment.

October 20, 2011- Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine delivers remarks at the dedication ceremony for the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Ben Franklin TechVentures® (BFTV), owned and operated by BFTP, has graduated 48 successful early-stage technology companies that together gross more than $408 million in annual revenue and have created 4,500 jobs. Twenty-six early-stage firms, employing 146 people, are currently located in Ben Franklin TechVentures. Ben Franklin TechVentures2, the essential 47,000-square-foot expansion of the original building that will open in Autumn 2011, will advance BFTP's ability to provide early-stage companies with reduced operating costs, business assistance, and the synergy of a business incubator. The new facility will allow BFTP to accommodate technology-based start-up companies that create as many as 200 jobs and retain 100 more in the first three years.

EDA-Grantee Ben Franklin TechVentures Named to Inc. Websites Top-10 List, Click here to learn more

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In This Issue


November is Native American Heritage Month

The indigenous peoples of North America -- the First Americans -- have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our Nation's heritage. Throughout their long history on this great land, they have faced moments of profound triumph and tragedy alike. During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.

- President Obama

White House Native American Webpage

I6 Green Winners

President Obama Announces 2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference

Friday, December 2, 2011

Department of the Interior's Sidney R. Yates Auditorium

Each federally recognized tribe is invited to designate one representative to attend the Conference, as well as the briefing and listening session to be held at the White House. Please RSVP with the full name (including full middle name), position, tribe, social security number, date of birth, country of citizenship, country of birth, gender, current city and state of residence, e-mail and telephone number of your tribe's representative to or fax a letter to (202) 456-1647, attention Tribal Nations Conference, by 10 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.


Economic Tools

Technology and the Innovation Economy: How To Harness New Engines for Growth

Technology is a great enabler of innovation. In areas from education and health care to entrepreneurship and science, technology promotes jobs, builds wealth, and benefits individuals, communities and societies. Technology has been a key driver of economic growth over the last two decades, fueling the innovation and entrepreneurship that are crucial to long-term economic development and prosperity.

Read Article

Access Report on Technology and the Innovation Economy

Map of winners

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) provides thousands of professionals with the information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies. The National Business Incubation Association in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission and Tennessee Valley Authority created a peer-to-peer evaluation program for business incubation programs.

Click here to access program.


DOC & DOT Announce Partnership to Boost Domestic Manufacturing Across America

On October 18, 2011 Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a partnership to encourage the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs and opportunities for U.S. suppliers through transportation investments. 

Click here to learn more.



EDA-funded report identifies best practices and key characteristics of successful incubators that policymakers and practitioners should know as they work to implement strategies to foster economic development.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announce the appointment of 148 private-sector members to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee and six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees.

To reflect the diversity of our agricultural sector and business community, USDA is stepping up its efforts to continually supplement its seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) with new members, especially those who represent minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. We believe that people with different backgrounds and views will make the work of these committees, and thus of USDA, more effective.

Click here to read entire blog post by Janet A. Nuzum, Foreign Agricultural Service Associate Administrator.



Upcoming Events

November 2, 2011
Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in an open press event to highlight the New England Clean Energy Foundation's winning of the i6 Green Challenge in EDA's Philadelphia region.

November 3, 2011
Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in a White House Champions of Change event on manufacturing in Washington, D.C.

November 8, 2011
Assistant Secretary Fernandez delivers remarks at the SSTI "Innovative Economies, Creating Our Future" conference in Columbus, Ohio.

November 9, 2011
Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine delivers remarks at Va./W.VA. University Center Announcement Events. Tours Local ED Project Sites.

November 30 - December 2, 2011
White House Tribal Nations Conference


Extra Extra


If you want to see how American communities can reinvent themselves to compete in today's global economy, just walk through downtown Pittsburgh. Once abandoned steel plants now house a thriving cluster of innovative robotics companies.

Read editorial by U.S. Assistant Secretary Fernandez.

The Wall Street Journal

U.S. EDA investments promote innovation and help create jobs

Read editorial by U.S. Assistant Secretary Fernandez

The Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration is collaborating with the private sector in an unprecedented way to promote American innovation, ignite entrepreneurship, and spur small business development to get the economy moving and put people back to work.

Read blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary Fernandez

The Wall Street Journal

Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine Pushes Obama Jobs bill at Chamber