August 23, 2023

EDA Leadership Meets With Native Community Development Coalition Members in South Dakota

This spring, Dennis Alvord, EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer, visited Rapid City, South Dakota. He met with members of the Mountain Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition (Mountain Plains), led by the Four Bands Community Fund. In 2022, Mountain Plains received a $45 million EDA award as part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC).

EDA leadership is committed to furthering the agency’s relationship with its Tribal partners and stakeholders. This event provided the opportunity to spotlight how one of our grantees is maximizing its BBBRC funding to improve economic opportunities within its community, a core EDA investment priority.

Equity & Economic Growth

Mountain I Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition: Gathering to fortify the indigenous finance industry - Come Gather With Us

Mountain Plains is comprised of nine Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), serving Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. These four states are some of the most sparsely populated in the nation while having the highest concentrations of Native Americans. They contain twenty Indian reservations and urban populations totaling more than 208,000 people. The coalition works to dismantle long-standing barriers to capital which led to disproportionate rates of poverty, unemployment, and income. Together, they create locally-led financing infrastructure to support Indigenous business growth and economic stability in this region.

The EDA investment enables the coalition to do just that by expanding economic opportunities in Tribal communities through a Regional Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), providing $21 million in loan capital to deploy. It was designed to provide local Native entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build and grow their businesses. Through this program, EDA and the coalition seek to reverse decades of historical disinvestment and institutionalized inequities for Native communities.

Community Impact

Coalition members began the proceedings by providing DAS Alvord with an update on their work since the grant was awarded last fall. After robust conversations and a couple of panel discussions, the group visited several Native-owned businesses in downtown Rapid City, many of which have received funding through the RLF program. These visits were designed to underscore the real-world impact of the grants and the BBBRC program.

Photo of Deputy Assistant Secretary Dennis Alvord as he tours the Tusweca Gallery, an Indigenous art gallery in Rapid City, South Dakota. The gallery received an RLF loan made possible through EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
DAS Dennis Alvord tours the Tusweca Gallery, an Indigenous art gallery in Rapid City, South Dakota. The gallery received an RLF loan made possible through EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The tour included a stop at the Tusweca Gallery, which features a series of exhibits by Indigenous artists. With an emphasis on Lakota history, these pieces help to promote the creative talents of the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The day’s events concluded with a meal catered by Chef Braveheart, an Indigenous private chef, motivational speaker and female entrepreneur. Guests were also treated to a traditional dance ceremony performed by members of the Oglala Lakota Nation.

The following day, DAS Alvord gave keynote remarks congratulating the coalition for their BBBRC successes and inspiring them to keep leveraging their forward momentum. He highlighted additional opportunities available through the EDA and the broader Department of Commerce coalition of agencies.

For more information on resources available to Tribal communities, please visit (PDF).