CSKT’s strategy for supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs is based on needs identified by Tribal member business owners and potential owners in a survey conducted in 2014. (See 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Study Chapter 6, provided as a link on this webpage).
This strategy focuses on four areas:
- Access to Capital
- Improved Enforcement of the Tribal Indian Preference Policy
- Communication to the Membership about Available Resources and Opportunities
ENTREPRENEUR TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
CSKT’s Economic Development Office (EDO) initiated a pilot training project in 2016 to provide training for Tribal member business owners and those interested in owning a business. The EDO is working with partner agencies to offer the most popular training sessions from that pilot project on an annual or semi-annual basis. Five training classes were held in the Spring of 2017, and at least two will be held in September.
Classes are offered Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and sometimes during the day on Mondays and Tuesdays, depending on course content and instructor availability. Class schedules are posted on this website, the Char-Koosta News “What’s Happening?” section, SKC-TV’s Community Bulletin Board, and the CSKT Workforce Enhancement Facebook page.
Provided we have an e-mail address for an individual, we also send e-mail notices about all upcoming classes, including webinar training opportunities.
Before You Start that Business
This class was offered in the Spring of 2017. We hope to offer it again in Elmo in September, 2017. It is a 3-hour, free evening class.  Continuing Education Credits are available.
Business Plan Development 
- Indianpreneurship –This 11-session course will be offered in the Winter or Spring of 2018. Continuing Education Credits are available. We may have a 2-day, abbreviated session available in either August or September of 2017. Continuing Education Credits will be available.
- One-on-one business planning sessions can be set up with S&K Business Services/Sovereign Leasing and Financing, north of Pablo. (Contact Steve Clairmont at 883-4317.)
- One-on-one assistance available at Lake County Community Development Corporation (LCCDC) in Ronan
- SBA online classes—need computer access. Computers are available for Tribal member use at the CSKT Economic Development Office Workforce Enhancement Resource Center.
- Salish Kootenai College (SKC) Business Course—tuition and fee costs (waived in some circumstances)
- University of Montana (UM) or Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) Business Course—tuition and fee costs.
- Profit Mastery—Advanced 16-hour training offered 1x/year—Costs are dependent on sponsors. This course is also available online, with a fee charged for the training manual.
- Cash Flow Projections – offered annually by LCCDC ($10 fee for lunch)
- Sovereign Leasing and Financing provides some free one-on-one start-up training, and assists with bank loan applications.
- SKC Business Courses—tuition and fee costs apply
- UM Business School or FVCC—tuition and fee costs apply
- FDIC training—CD provided by banks
- LCCDC training classes (1 day, $10 fee; 3 types offered in Ronan and Thompson Falls)
- Sovereign Leasing and Financing offers assistance with market research utilizing the Montana Site Selector (free service)
- MTCDC and LCCDC may be able to obtain free industry reports
- SKC Business Courses
- UM Business School or FVCC Courses
- CSKT offers free QuickBooks classes for Tribal employees
- LCCDC offers QuickBooks I and QuickBooks II training (1 day each, $10 fee for each, offered in Ronan and Thompson Falls)
- Sovereign Leasing and Financing and LCCDC provide one-on-one counselling at business sites when possible
- Adult Education Courses sometimes offered at the local high schools
- SKC Business Courses
- UM Business School or FVCC Courses
- SKC, UM or FVCC Business Course
- Robert Much, Native American Development Corporation PTAC officer, bi-annual training--Government Contracting 101 and 102--as well as monthly one-on-one sessions.
Credit Counselling 
- JGreen Financial ($195 for a one-on-one credit analysis session plus additional fee for each additional session)
- Rural Dynamics Consumer Credit Counseling Service - www.cccsmt.org or 1-877-ASK-CCCS or 257-4069 (Kalispell) or 543-1188 (Missoula) – free service
- Salish Kootenai Housing Authority – free one-on-one personal finance counselling and Homebuyer Education classes geared for personal finance—available to anyone
Other Montana Department of Commerce Resources:
1. Montana Manufacturing Extension Center
2. International Trade Relations Bureau—Exports
3. Business Resources Guide Book and Website
- Missoula Economic Partnership – weekly innovation initiative sessions during the spring and fall semester featuring keynote speakers on various business topics http://www.missoulapartnership.com/grow-your-business/innovation-initiative/
- Job Service Centers – Located in Lake, Sanders, Missoula and Flathead Counties. Specialists available to work with business owners when they want to hire employees or have any questions regarding Human Resources issues such as labor laws, employment practices, etc. www.lakecountyjobs.mt.gov . Also see Flathead Reservation Business Resource Directory for contact information for other counties.
- Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana -- will do business consulting for anyone who is a student at the University or for alumni. http://umt.thelaunchpad.org/
ACCESS TO CAPITAL
The following grant and loan opportunities are listed in the Flathead Reservation Business Resource Directory. Please refer to the Directory for contact and application information.
- Montana Indian Equity Fund -- $2,000-$14,000 grants. Match and other requirements.
- Growth Through Agriculture Grants
- CSKT Indian Business Assistance Project -- Competitive grants available through CSKT -- $2,000-$7,000; match and other requirements. Next round of funding available Fall 2017.
- Eagle Bank
- Tribal Credit – Business and Agriculture Loans
- Montana Community Development Corporation
- Lake County Community Development Corporation – multiple programs and CDFI
- Other local lenders
- Additional research is ongoing regarding:
- USDA Rural Development
- BIA CDFI Funds
- BIA and SBA Guarantees
IMPROVED ENFORCEMENT OF THE CSKT INDIAN PREFERENCE POLICY
- Market the benefits of the Indian Preference List and Ordinance. (See link to Indian Preference Business Owners List on this webpage.) Ideas include a Facebook link to the Indian Preference Business Owners list, an annual showcase, a Tribal newspaper insert with a list of Tribal businesses and paid ads, and more. This will be a topic of discussion at our Quarterly Business Owners Meetings.
- Work with Tribal Department Heads and Program Managers to increase policy awareness. The Economic Development Planning Director has reminded Department Heads at Department Head meetings about utilizing the Indian Preference Business Owners List when procuring goods and services. We have requested that the Indian Preference Office manager provide an annual update to the Department Heads regarding this important Tribal policy.
COMMUNICATION TO MEMBERSHIP ABOUT AVAILABLE RESOURCES and OPPORTUNITIES
- The Flathead Reservation Business Resource Directory provides information about starting a new business, business structure, technical assistance providers and grant and loan opportunities.
- The Flathead Reservation Workforce Training Directory highlights the job training opportunities available locally and in Western Montana.
- Indian Preference Contractors list
- CSKT and Indian Equity Fund Grant recipients from last 5 years
- Known Tribal non-profits
- Tribal Business Owners Meeting attendees from 2014, 2016 and 2017 meetings
- Tribal Job and Training Needs Survey respondents who indicated they either own or are interested in owning a business
- Training Course Attendees
- Flathead Reservation Business Resource Directory
- Flathead Reservation Workforce Training Directory
- CSKT Comprehensive, Sustainable Economic Development Strategy
SUMMER YOUTH INTERNSHIPS
 Costs for the Instructor and materials are covered by CSKT’s Economic Development Office.
 Assistance with developing business plans is available for free to Tribal members, with the exception of college courses. Refer to the Flathead Reservation Business Resource Directory and the SBA and college websites for additional contact information.
 Costs for the Instructor and materials are covered by CSKT’s Economic Development Office, with potential assistance from the Lake County Community Development Corporation and SBA/The Redwind Group.
 53% of the entrepreneurs responding to the survey disclosed that they have limited or no collateral, lack of cash flow, or bad credit.