Economic Development Summit aims to create new opportunities for Native American tribal members Submitted: 02/19/2014
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People may think casinos bring in more than enough money for Native American tribes but that's not always the case. The Lac du Flambeau tribe realizes it needs more business diversity. So the tribe founded the Lac du Flambeau Economic Development Summit in 2012.

More than 100 people from 9 tribes and 5 states are attending the 3-day summit this week. The chairman of the Oneida Tribe traveled to the summit to learn how his tribe can improve business. "Oneida has 17,000 Oneida tribal members. We have 55% of our youth still live in poverty in spite of a successful casino. We do need to diversify, we do need to provide more jobs to our tribal members," said Oneida Tribe Chairman Edward Delgado. They hope to come away with new partnerships and promising opportunities. "The biggest challenges that tribes face is very high unemployment, generally north of 50% unemployment, fairly high dropout rates. It's a cultural challenge. Tribes tend to be closed communities. And as a result, having economic development come to tribes is a challenge. So our approach has been, let's reach out and bring it here," explained Brent McFarland, Chief Operating Officer of the LDF Business Development Corporation. The theme of this year's summit is "Developing Green Energy Solutions and Technology-based Business." People could choose from 15 workshops ranging in topics from broadband internet development to opening a grocery store. Organizers believe the summit benefits more than just the tribal members. "This isn't just going to benefit tribal communities, we're trying to develop economic engines that can reach out and help all these other communities on the outside. You know, stimulate job growth," explained Economic Development Summit coordinator Damon Fleming. The summit wraps up Thursday. All the presentations will be uploaded to the tribe's YouTube channel below.

Story By: Lauren Stephenson

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