One of the gems of the tribe’s commercial assets is the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Community Development Corporation (CPCDC). Partially funded by a Treasury Department grant, the CPCDC’s aim is to promote community development and job creation through business counseling and funding for Native American-owned enterprises in Oklahoma and across the country. As one of the largest Native American Community Development Financial Institutions in the country, the CPCDC lends money to Native American owned business regardless of tribal affiliation in Oklahoma. For those outside of the state, the CPCDC will also assess and fund business loans, though that funding is solely for CPN tribal members.
During a trip to Washington D.C. in 2003, Chairman John Barrett heard about the program promoting Community Development Financial Institutions, which were designed to help fund small, Native American-owned businesses. The Treasury Department, along with other federal sources, meets a dollar-for-dollar funding plan, meaning whatever money the tribe puts into the CPCDC, the federal government matches it. These funds have made lending and business counseling a success for the CPCDC, which will celebrate its ten year anniversary in July 2013.
“We can do more for a potential applicant than an FCIC-regulated bank can,” said CPCDC Executive Director Shane Jett. “We’re not here to just turn a profit, though that is one of our goals. Our main aim is to help get locally-owned businesses going that will create jobs and develop the surrounding community.”
The CPCDC has made 249 commercial loans worth more than $20 million while providing more than 1,730 individual applicants with business development services and financial counseling in the last year alone. In the last three years, this has resulted in 274 jobs being created or retained.
“Even if we review an applicant’s initial business plan and say ‘no’, we work with them to provide training and counseling to get their plans into working order,” said Jett. “A ‘no’ from us usually means ‘not now,’ and our assistance aims to help clients become successful business people.”
In the areas surrounding CPN headquarters in Pottawatomie County, the success stories are evident. Local businesses like Shawnee Cleaners, DC Cake Appeal and iBall Instruments have benefited from the ground up approach that the CDC takes when helping a small business develop their enterprise.
“They (CPCDC) not only gave us the capital to reach our goal of expansion, but they provided technical assistance and continue to support us with their patronage,” said co-owners of DC Cake Appeal David Conway and Owen Davis.
A testament to the business’ success has been its being recognized by a number of national honors for community development. In its brief time of existence, it has won the Harvard Project’s Honoring Nation Award, Wachovia’s NEXT Community Impact Award as well as being named the 2007 Oklahoma Minority Business Champion of the Year.