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.
Multiple training workshops have been held since 2016. Updated flyers with class schedules are posted in the Char-Koosta News, and on the Home page of this website under "News" and also in the "Events" column as we receive flyers from training sponsors. Classes and workshops are offered some evenings, and sometimes during the day, depending on course content and instructor availability. Provided we have an e-mail address for an individual, we also send e-mail notices about all upcoming classes, including webinar training opportunities. Continuing Education Credits are available for most of the sessions.
Business Plan Development
- Indianpreneurship/Business Basics –This multi-session course has been offered annually. S&K Business Services is sponsoring the next training.
- One-on-one business planning sessions can be set up with S&K Business Services/Sovereign Leasing and Financing, north of Pablo. (Contact Sarah Sandoval or James Bible at 883-4317.)
- One-on-one assistance is also available at Mission West Community Development Partners (MWCDP) 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 and at S&K Business Services north of Pablo.
- 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.
- Cash Flow Projections – offered annually by MWCDP
- SKC Business Courses—tuition and fee costs apply
- UM Business School or FVCC—tuition and fee costs apply
- FDIC training—CD provided by banks
- Social Media Marketing online training classes offered by CSKT's S&K Business Services
- S&K Business Services and the SBA may be able to assist with market analysis
- SKC Business Courses
- UM Business School or FVCC Courses
- Mission West Community Development Partners offers free QuickBooks and Bookkeeping Basics classes
- 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 in the Spring and Fall at S&K Business Services.
Credit Counselling 
- JGreen Financial offers counselling sessions.
- Tina Begay offers 1-hour online sessions through S&K Business Services' training program.
- Rural Dynamics Consumer Credit Counseling Service - 1-877-ASK-CCCS or 406-257-4069 (Kalispell) or 406-543-1188 (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
- Job Service Centers – Located in Lake, Sanders, Missoula and Flathead Counties. Specialists are 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. Contact them at www.Facebook.com/jobservicepolson
- 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 -- $7,000-$14,000 grants. Match and other requirements.
- Eagle Bank
- Tribal Credit – Business and Agriculture Loans
- Montana Community Development Corporation
- Mission West Community Development Partners – 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.
- 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 Resources Directory includes resources for job seekers and highlights the job training opportunities available locally and in Western Montana.
- Indian Preference Contractors list
- CSKT and Indian Equity Fund Grant recipients
- Known Tribal non-profits
- Agricultural Producers
- Tribal Business Owners Meeting attendees
- 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 Resource Directory
- CSKT Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
 53% of the entrepreneurs responding to the survey disclosed that they have limited or no collateral, lack of cash flow, or bad credit.