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Red Lake Nation wins national economic development award

NAFOA awarded the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and their economic development organization, Ogaakaaning Enterprises (OE), with the 2019 Small Deal of the Year Award for their Red Lake Trading Post Grocery Store Project. Pictured is Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. accepting the Small Deal of the Year award (in center on right). Also pictured is Shannon Ward, from Native American Bank and the NAFOA Board of Directors.

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Native American Finance Officers Association recently hosted its 12th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon during the 37th Annual Conference in Portland, Ore. The NAFOA awarded the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota and their economic development organization, Ogaakaaning Enterprises, with the 2019 Small Deal of the Year Award for their Red Lake Trading Post Grocery Store Project.

This award recognizes a small tribal deal or financial venture completed during the last year and should be original in structure and with terms innovative for the tribe, a release said. The current Red Lake Trading Post is a full-service grocery with a deli, smoke shop and fuel station.

In 2015, OE started approaching partners about replacing the trading post with a new facility. In May 2018, Native American Bank along with their partners officially closed the loan to Red Lake Retail Center, Inc. to build a new grocery store on the Red Lake Nation. The loan closing marked a national milestone as the first deal of its kind to pair the New Markets Tax Credit program with a United States Department of Agriculture Business & Industry guaranty on a project located on tribal trust land where the ground lease will serve as collateral.

The new Red Lake Trading Grocery Store will increase the store square footage and provide an expanded selection of healthy grocery products, a release said.

In addition to keeping community dollars closer to home and boosting the tribal economy, the project is estimated to create 45 construction jobs, 20 new permanent jobs, and retain 30 permanent jobs from the existing store.

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