Nimiipuu Community Development Fund “Nimiipuu Fund” is seeking proposals from planning professionals to complete a feasibility study and business plan for an Business Incubator and Office space for areas in the Lapwai, Idaho or on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. This space will serve as a venue for co-working space for economic development agencies, start-up and existing firms, and a location for business programs to launch and expand business activity. The Business Incubator will contribute to community economic development by providing incubator space for small businesses, programming to assist entrepreneurs, Nimiipuu Fund CDFI operations, and providing a location for “remote workers.”
Nimiipuu Fund is a certified Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury Department. Incorporated in 2013 by the Nez Perce Tribe, Nimiipuu Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, governed by a 7-member Board of Directors, whose mission is “The Nimiipuu Fund facilitates financial independence by enhancing the personal and entrepreneurial capacity of the Nez Perce Reservation and surrounding communities. We promote economic growth while embracing our cultural values and traditions by providing tailored financial products and services.” More information on Nimiipuu Fund and its products and services can be found throughout our website.
This concept for business incubator space has been an interest and need on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation and arose again during development of the Nimiipuu Fund strategic plan in 2020. The space would both meet the needs for Nimiipuu Fund growth, its development services, and expressed needs for businesses to have infrastructure to house their businesses or space to occupy or use.
The Nimiipuu Incubator Feasibility Study will respond to identified needs of Nez Perce Tribal entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own businesses and to similar needs of other Tribal owners of emerging or micro- businesses. These entrepreneurs face several barriers, including a need for learning best practices in business management and a need for back-office support. The costs of marketing and advertising for a single business is out of reach for some, and the severe lack of available business locations on the reservation is also an impediment.
As Idaho’s only seaport and with accessible rail and air transportation, the nearby City of Lewiston creates significant opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region, but Tribal members have been less able to capitalize on these opportunities. No Community Reinvestment Act loans were provided to low or moderate income persons in Clearwater or Nez Perce counties in 2019, demonstrating the inability of such individuals to access credit and the need for technical assistance support.
The Nimiipuu Fund has grown exponentially over the past few years and is in need of a business location as well for its expanded operations and services to business owners, including financial literacy and business development workshops.