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Grant Awarded to Small Native Owned Businesses To Help With Digital Presence

Update: An earlier version of this story mistakenly called the Montana Department of Commerce the Montana Chamber of Commerce. This story has been edited to reflect the correct department.

A grant from the Montana Department of Commerce recently awarded more than a dozen Indigenous businesses grant money to help better develop a presence online.

The Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant was developed to help Indigenous business owners make more of a splash with their online content.

The grantees will use funds to boost website and content development in hopes to bring in more revenue to Native businesses associated with tourism.

Montana Department of Commerce Tribal Tourism Officer Daniel Iverson said that a digital presence is important for developing businesses.

“But here is a digital divide for a lot of small businesses. And especially Native-owned businesses,” Iverson says. “Often they have great goods and services and there is a demand for them, but it can be difficult for travelers to find information about them.”

Iverson said that Montana’s Department of Commerce used advertisement funds not used this last year. Many tribal communities did not want a huge influx of tourists, because of high Covid numbers last year, so Iverson says the money was put toward this project.

Iverson also said that for some tribal communities lack of broadband internet or reliable cell phone service can make having an impact online difficult.

“For tourism-related businesses to have a strong digital presence is so important in terms of how people become inspired and ultimately plan travel,” he said.

The projects selected for the grant included restaurants, selling beadwork online, and guided outdoor activities.

Taylar Stagner covers tribal affairs for Yellowstone Public Radio.