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Published March 07 2013

Forum editorial: Tribal jobs grant bill a win-win

A workforce development grant bill for North Dakota’s five tribal colleges is a visionary collaboration for the state and for Indian country. The legislation, which includes a $5 million appropriation, unanimously cleared the Senate and will be heard by a House subcommittee early next week. While the appropriation was cut to $5 million from $10 million, the measure is an excellent start to strengthening the jobs development partnership between the North Dakota Department of Commerce and tribal colleges.

Education and training for jobs is the primary focus of the legislation, but there’s more. Presidents of tribal colleges also see the grant program as an opportunity to identify and support Indian country entrepreneurs who need help turning their ideas into profitable businesses. So the grant program could be a significant factor in growing the business and jobs sectors in reservation communities.

Legislators and tribal school officials also understand that the more skills and job training programs under way in the state, all the better to meet employment demands in the Oil Patch and elsewhere. So part of the appeal of the grant program is that educated and trained native workers will have opportunities in the job market all over the state.

The grant will be administered by the Commerce Department. Awards will be made to fund programs designed by the tribal colleges. The Senate endorsed the win-win nature of the legislation. The House should do the same.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.