Advocacy Visits Tulsa, Oklahoma for Native Edge Institute

By Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate

The Office of Advocacy returned to Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 29 and October 30 to meet with Native American small business owners and companies that conduct business with American Indian tribes. According to the sponsoring organization, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the Native Edge Institute is regularly the largest economic development event in Indian Country.

Dottie Overal, former Acting Regional Administrator for SBA, and Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate, opened the event with introductory remarks.

Some of the topics covered were federal contracts for small businesses, updates on rules and regulations, and tribal economic development. Discussions included the benefits of participating in various small business contracting and set-aside programs, a review of eligibility criteria, affiliation concerns, program benefits, and ideas regarding how to maintain eligibility. Small business contracting programs, including 8(a) business development, HUBZone, service disabled veteran-owned small business, women-owned small business, and economically disadvantaged women-owned small business programs, were also addressed.

In addition to attending and participating in informative group discussions, we were able to meet individually with small businesses to hear about federal regulations that are burdening their firms. We listened to criticism of recommendations made to the Department of Defense by the Section 809 Panel, which is tasked with identifying ways to streamline and simplify acquisition regulations. We were told that the American Bar Association shared many of the same concerns and had submitted comments to the Panel. There was also apprehension that the Panel’s suggestions are not particularly “small business-friendly.” Additionally, we received comments about federal forms being insensitive to Native Americans applying for federal contracts. We were told that some forms require Native Americans who do not pay taxes to submit copies of their tax returns.

The Office of Advocacy thanks the participants in the 2018 Native Edge Institute for their hospitality and feedback, and looks forward to returning to the Tulsa region again in the future to learn more from the enthusiastic businesspeople in the area.

Rhett Davis serves as the Region 6 Advocate for the SBA Office of Advocacy, representing small businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Davis works with small business owners, state and local governments, and small business associations to bring the voice of Region 6 to Washington DC. He can be reached at