In recent years the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation has provided funding, guidance and support for a number of Native American business owners around the country.
In late 2015 the CPCDC securedits largest funding amount in more than 10 years, a total of $21.3 million. The organization’s success relies upon a small group of dedicated lending and financial professionals, one of which is tribal member Felecia Freeman.
A tribal employee since 2006, Freeman was recently named to the board of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, or AICCO. The Hownikan spoke to Freeman about her experiences
at CPN, and about her work for the CPCDC.
What Potawatomi family are you from?
“I am a Rhodd descendent. My great-great grandmother was Charlotte Vieux.”
What was your background before you came to the CPCDC?
“I was the coordinator for the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
“It was welfare-to-work program; it provided assistance with education, transportation, employment and life skills training. I have always enjoyed working with people.”
How did you initially become involved with AICCO?
“I gave a presentation on the CPCDC and the services that we offer at one of the monthly chapter meetings. All of the business owners were excited to learn about our lending opportunities.
“Several pulled me aside after the presentation and signed up for credit counseling. They had been turned down for prior business loans because of bad or no credit and they needed advice on credit building or credit repair.
Why is it important that someone from CPN is on the board of directors of AICCO?
“The mission of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma is to assist American Indian businesses in the pursuit of self-sufficiency through business success. The CPCDC offers technical assistance, networking and lending to American Indian businesses to help achieve the same goal. So it is a perfect synergy of resources.”
Are there any projects or initiatives that you’d like to focus on as a board member?
“I would like to see us collaborate on training resources and technical assistance to prepare more Native Americans to start more business and hire more Native Americans in the state of Oklahoma.”
Established in 2003, the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation provides financial products and counseling services to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation members and employees nationwide as well as Native American-owned businesses throughout Oklahoma. If you would like to learn more about its services, please visit www.cpcdc.org or by calling (405) 878-4697.