ETHETE – The Eighth Annual Native American Business Expo and Conference is set for April 24 at Wyoming Indian High School in Ethete.
The Expo is intended for anyone who is interested in doing business within the Wind River Indian Reservation.
According to Lisa Wagner, executive director of the Wind River Development Fund, the Wind River Indian Reservation is a place of untapped economic potential that remains a mystery to much of the state.
“The purpose of the Native American Business Expo is to help make it less of a mystery,” she said, “to promote partnerships with the tribes or tribal members, and promote business and economic development that promotes both the reservation and the state. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Advantages to partnering with businesses on the Reservation include federal tax benefits; an existing, mostly-untapped work force; and access to contracting and other opportunities subject to minority set-asides. Partnerships with either the Eastern Shoshone or Northern Arapaho tribes have the potential for increased access to natural resources within the reservation.
The Expo will kick off at 7:30 a.m. and last until 3:45 p.m. with lunch included. A $75 early bird registration fee is available before April 10.
Topics covered during the Expo will include the nuts and bolts of starting and conducting business on the Reservation, a report from tribal leaders on business development within the Reservation, and an examination of opportunities and trends within the Reservation.
This year, the Expo will offer a few changes. “For one thing, we have fewer sessions, allowing longer and more in-depth coverage of each topic,” Wagner explained. “It will also allow more time for our 40 or so vendors, which include both reservation-based businesses and companies from outside the reservation working in partnership with those inside the reservation. We’re really focused on highlighting their successes, so people can see what they’re about.”
Wagner said that the vendor list is almost complete, and that if anyone wants to be a vendor at the Expo, they should call (307) 335-7330 or get a registration form from the WRDF Web site, www.wrdf.org.
The fee for vendors is $25.
Networking opportunities at the Expo are extensive, as past participants have included representatives from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, state and federal agencies, and statewide elected officials. Sponsors of the event include the two tribes, Central Bank and Trust, Encana Oil and Gas, First Interstate Bank, the Tribal Employment Rights Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Wells Fargo, the Wind River Development Fund, Wyoming Business Council, and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center.
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