Contracting Conference Targets Native Businesses

Tribal groups and Native corporations will get insights into government contracting during a three-day event this week.

The Alaska Native Economic Development and Procurement Trade Fair is offering information on a variety of business programs, including 8-a contracting. It’s Tuesday through Thursday at the Tlingit and Haida Central Council headquarters on West Willoughby Avenue in Juneau.

Daucey Brewington is Northwest program manager for the Native American Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

“The purpose of the conference is to give some more information on how to go about government contracting, meet some of the government agencies, learn some of the challenges, how to increase capacity, leverage resources and learn more and more about government contracting,” he says.

State and federal agencies will talk about their programs. Brewington says representatives will discuss multiple opportunities, including energy technology and seafood marketing. (Look at the agenda.)

“Suppose a tribe has a small processing plant that doesn’t have enough product coming in. I know of a couple that are sitting idle. Well, the folks from the BIA are interested in working with rural development or others to create a fish co-op so that multiple villages might have enough product to put one of these plants back in operation,” he says.

A number of Alaska Native corporations already use the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, which has undergone scrutiny in recent years. Brewington says training will cover that program’s updated contract limitations and transparency provisions.

He says between 50 and 75 people are expected to attend from around the state.

“I’ve heard from individuals, tribes, ANCSA corporations. I know there’s one Korean company that wants to show up that has no Native affiliation. Except they have products and they’re looking to perhaps partner or manufacture somewhere in Indian country,” he says.

The Technical Assistance Center also plans a Native American and Veteran Small Business Conference September 13th through 15th in Tulalip, Washington.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.