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Native-owned businesses generate billions
Monday, August 1, 2005

Native businesses took in $26.4 billion in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

American Indians and Alaska Natives own more than 206,000 businesses across the country, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Thursday. This was up from the 197,300 firms that were operating in 1997, according to the report.

Most of the Native businesses were located in California, Oklahoma, Texas, New York and Florida. New Mexico, Arizona, North Carolina, Washington and Michigan rounded out the top 10 with Alaska coming in at 11.

In terms of revenue, Native firms in California took in $4.4 billion in 2002, the most of any state. With $3.2 billion in revenue, Texas came in second while Oklahoma ranked third with $2.5 billion generated by Native businesses.

By percentage, Native-owned businesses in Alaska accounted for about 8 percent of all firms in the state. In both Oklahoma and New Mexico, they accounted for about 5 percent of the firms.

For the report, "Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Hispanic or Latino Origin, and Race: 2002," the Census Bureau did not include businesses owned by tribes or Alaska Native corporations. This dropped Alaska, with its wealth of billion-dollar Native corporations, from the top 10 rankings.

It also resulted in lower figures overall for Indian- and Native-owned businesses. Based on the 1997 data, which included certain Alaska Native corporations, Indian businesses took in $34.3 billion.

Despite the change, officials said the report indicated a growth in Indian-owned businesses. More specific data on Native businesses will be released in the coming year.

"We also believe the number of businesses owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives is also growing," Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said as the figures were announced.

If tribal entities or Native corporation entities had been included, the figures would show significant growth. Indian casinos took in $19 billion last year alone, a 15.3 percent increase. Some of the top Alaska Native corporations report nearly $1 billion in revenues.

Other data indicates the increasing economic power in Indian Country. Native Americans will control $63 billion of the U.S. economic market by 2008, according to a 2003 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth.

The preliminary Census Bureau report showed that Native entrepreneurs are involved in a wide variety of industries including construction, retail trade, professional services, health care, and other services. Receipts were highest in retail trade and construction, the report said.

Native men continue to own most of the businesses. In 2002, Native men owned 58 percent of all Native businesses while Native women owned 39 percent. The remaining 3 percent were equally male-female owned.

Despite the growth in economic opportunities, American Indians and Alaska Natives still trail the rest of the nation when it comes to economics. Nearly a third of Native people live in poverty, based on Census Bureau data. Native children are more likely to live in poverty than any other racial or ethnic group, a 2004 report stated.

Summary Statistics:
American Indian- and Alaska Native-Owned Businesses | Map

Census Bureau Report:
Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Hispanic or Latino Origin, and Race: 2002, (July 2005)

Relevant Links:
National Indian Business Association - http://www.nibanetwork.org

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Census Bureau reports on Native-owned firms (5/23)
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Census: Native Americans among poorest (9/27)
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