The Indian Country Programs at the Montana Department of Commerce offers a variety of technical assistance and grant programs targeted towards economic development for projects that strengthen the economy and languages of tribal nations in Montana through the development and enhancement of business opportunities and tribal languages on reservations, in tribal communities, and for Native American businesses.

Scroll down to find the application link for each grant category and click 'Submit' to start the application process.  To begin an application, first time users of the Submittable™ platform will be prompted to create a required profile for application submission.  For additional information on each announcement, click on the 'More' down arrow button next to each announcement.

Current Funding Opportunities:

  • Montana Indian Youth Small Business Naming and Logo Competition (prizes for top three in logo submissions and top three in program name submissions.  The deadline has been extended from the original April 17, 2017 deadline)
  • Native American Business Advisor (NABA) 2018-2019 Biennial Grant ($15,000 per year per Native American development organization) through June 30, 2017
  • Indian Equity Fund available starting July 1, 2017
  • Tribal Business Planning Grant available starting July 1, 2017

The Native American Business Advisors (NABAs) Grant is a fund to support the activities of Native American community-based organizations, tribal colleges, and tribal government organizations that support private sector business development on reservations and in tribal communities. These entities offer business counseling and credit counseling, and application support to Native American businesses in Montana. The NABAs are a key community asset necessary in the development and success of Native American businesses. To develop this asset, the Program is focused on increasing the technical capacity of the NABA network such as assisting individuals in business start-up, marketing, utilization of business resources, and commercial loan application assistance. Additionally, NABAs will also provide more robust application assistance to the Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant applicants. A total of $15,000 per year is available to fund up to eight NABA applications in each of tribal nation areas.

Eligible applicants include local Native American development organizations that have offered technical assistance services to pre-venture and established Native American businesses in Montana. Additionally, those organizations that have been awarded NABA grants in the past must either demonstrate a history of submitting timely reports and meeting required performance targets or must provide a detailed plan demonstrating a commitment to meeting reporting, capacity building, and performance targets.

Organizations that are awarded a NABA grant for fiscal year 2018 and meet both performance and reporting requirements for fiscal year 2018 will be eligible to renew their grant for fiscal year 2019 without submitting a new application for an additional $15,000. NABA contracts that do not meet reporting or performance requirements can be terminated within 30 days of notice if corrective action is not taken. If contracts are terminated and/or funds are returned, they can be awarded to contracted NABA organizations with an expanded scope of work.

NABA Grant Forms (to be filled out and submitted with online application):

Information to gather before starting the application:

  • Key personnel resumes
  • Download the forms above and complete for upload

Download a full copy of the 2018-2019 ICED Program Guidelines.

1st time users of the Submittable™ platform will be prompted to create a required profile for application submission.

PURPOSE: Assist start-up or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.

ELIGLBLE APPLICANTS:   The funds are available to enrolled members of Montana’s federally recognized tribes in Montana and to enrolled members of the Little Shell Tribe residing in Montana. All applications must include documentation of tribal enrollment in the form of a Certified Indian Blood (CIB) Form or tribal ID.  An application will be considered incomplete without this information.

Applications will be designated as ‘local’ or ‘at-large’ depending on the location of the business.  ‘Local’ applications are those applications where the business operates on or near the reservation in which the applicant is enrolled or to members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa.  ‘At-Large’ applications are those applications where the business operates in an area of the state other than on the reservation in which the applicant is enrolled.

GRANT AMOUNT: Awards for individual businesses can be up to $14,000 with a minimum dollar to dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application.


  • Tribal Enrollment Documentation (applications are considered incomplete without this information)

  • Business Registration Documentation (if available)

  • Key Business Personnel Resume(s) (high level, one page at most)

  • Matching Funds Verification (i.e. loan documents, inventory list, KBB valuation)

  • Historical Business Financials (if available)

Note: Any files for upload must be closed prior to uploading.

FORMS TO COMPLETE AND UPLOAD FOR APPLICATION: Download complete, save to a local drive, and upload with application.

  • Electronic Funds Transfer Form: To receive reimbursed funds directly into a checking or savings account.  Must be accompanied by a canceled or voided check or a deposit slip.

These forms are in addition to documents of the previous section will need to be uploaded with the application.  Note: Any files for upload must be closed prior to uploading.

APPLICATION ASSISTANCE: Applicants are required to understand his or her business model, typically found within a business plan.  The Native American Business Advisor (NABA) network can be utilized for technical assistance in completing this application. Additionally, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network, located throughout the state, can provide assistance.  Contact Phil Belangie at (406) 721-3663 or for more information.  Download a copy of the Indian Equity Fund Online Application Checklist to help you gather the necessary information required to input into your application


  • Purchase of land, building and equipment.

  • Purchase of assets including furnishings, equipment and technology.

  • Selected use of working capital for business operations.

Existing business owners must show how the funding will support growth in their business either through the development of a new project or with the existing business strategy.

MATCHING FUNDS REQUIREMENT: The requested grant funds require a minimum of dollar to dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application. Cash match may include collateral such as cash or loan proceeds from a tribal loan fund, a micro loan program, or a commercial lender.  In kind match may include inventory, supplies, equipment, tools or vehicles that are part of the activity of the business.


  1. APPLICATION QUALITY- Is the application complete, clear and logical, proofread for spelling, and/or mathematical errors?

  2. APPLICANT BUSINESS EXPERIENCE- Does the applicant have experience in the business that is proposed in the application?  Or does the applicant demonstrate in the application that they have the capacity to endure a business start-up and make sustainable business decisions?

  3. FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS- Are the financial projections understandable?  Is the growth rate of the business representative of realistic market demand and business capacity?  For established businesses, have the most current financials been provided and explained?

  4. OPERATIONS- Are the operational aspects (partners, suppliers, production costs, key resources, and pricing structure) of the business identified in the application?

  5. MARKETING PLAN- What are the products and services that the value proposition is built around?  Who is the target market and customer segment?  How do the target market and the value proposition match?

  6. MATCH QUALITY- Is the match business or farm machinery, equipment, furniture, or fixtures? Is the match land/buildings, inventory, accounts receivable, or other assets dedicated to the business? What is the market value, unpaid balance and depreciated cost of these items? If using a business vehicle as match, equity must be documented.  For example, if the vehicle has a Kelly Blue Book value of $18,000 and the applicant has an unpaid balance of $12,000, the in-kind match of the vehicle is $6,000.

  7. FINANCIAL NEED- The fund is designed to assist the new business start-up and or the growing small business that demonstrates a financial need in their application.

  8. USE OF FUNDS- for what will the funds be utilized?

  9. PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS- Previous Indian Equity Fund recipients will rank less competitively than applicants who have not received a previous award.  In addition, previous recipient applicants must provide a business status update and meet one of the following in their application: new technology; a new product or line of products; or a new service or services.

RECEIPT OF APPLICATION- Once submitted each application is assessed by the Program.  Applications that are incomplete or lack clarity can be re-opened for editing to the applicant but still must meet the application deadline. 

A full copy of the guidelines can be obtained at:

Ends on September 29, 2017

1st time users of the Submittable™ platform will be prompted to create a required profile for application submission.

PURPOSE:  The Tribal Business Planning Grants (TBPG) of the Indian Country Economic Development Program funding is intended to assist tribal governments in deploying comprehensive business planning strategies and activities.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS:   The governing bodies of each of Montana’s eight tribal governments are the only eligible applicants for this portion of the Program.

GRANT AMOUNT: A maximum of $28,000 per governing body per fiscal year will be available in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.  The Department retains sole and broad discretion over the use of any funds not applied for by an eligible governing body by September 29, 2017 for fiscal year 2018.

FORMS TO COMPLETE AND UPLOAD FOR APPLICATION: Download, complete, save to a local drive, and then upload with the application.

Information to gather before starting the application:

  • Tribal resolution authorizing application and specifying activity
  • Download the forms above and complete for upload

ELIGIBLE USES OF GRANT FUNDS:  Eligible activities include the following activities evidenced by tangible deliverables (i.e. ordinances, codes, business planning, study, and analysis documents, etc.):

  • Business plan development
  • Market analysis
  • Feasibility study
  • Physical business infrastructure planning, such as zoning
  • Legal and financial codification or ordinances benefitting business(es)

TBPG funds can be used to match other funding sources in the above areas as long as the funding is not duplicative. The following activities will not be funded:

  • Operation and maintenance costs or expenses;

  • Financial expenses, included but not limited to interest expense, bond issuance costs, or any other debt-related costs or expenses;

  • Reimbursement for activities completed prior to application;

  • Reimbursement for activities not related to business planning;

  • Duplicative reimbursement for activities receiving funding for the same services, equipment, or improvements through any other local, state, or federal grant or funding program, except as necessary to fully fund the project; or

  • Projects whose primary development will be a casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.

REVIEW CRITERIA FOR APPLICATIONS: The Program will first review the application for completeness and sufficiency.  During the review, the Program may contact the applicant to discuss any concerns or questions or to request additional information or documentation.  The Program may require additional information from the applicant to clarify information presented in the application.  Site visits by the Program may be made to the proposed project area for the purpose of verifying or further evaluating information contained in the application.

After the application is deemed complete and sufficient information is available to evaluate the proposed project(s), the application will be evaluated on the extent to which the project proposal meets the goals and objectives of the Program, using the following criteria:

  • Potential for the project to help applicants make more strategic decisions about the start-up, expansion, or diversification of a tribal enterprise or venture.
  • Likelihood that a specified feasibility study is of sufficient magnitude to have a significant economic impact on the future economic development of the reservation;
  • Likelihood that the specified planning activity will provide important or relevant guidance for decision making in the development of land, resources, business, financial or legal infrastructure.
  • Overall quality of the application, including measureable project goals, tasks, and activities, a well-developed work plan and budget, and easily identifiable deliverables.
  • Capability of the applicant to undertake and satisfactorily complete the project and ensure proper management and reporting of Program funds (i.e. use of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles- GAAP).

The Program will present the evaluation of each application to an internal Grant Review Committee.   The applicant can notify the Program if he/she would like to make a 10-minute presentation to the Grant Review Committee.  The Committee will review the application and make a preliminary funding recommendation to the Director of the Department, who makes the final funding decision.

RECEIPT OF APPLICATION AND GRANT NOTIFICATION: Once a project has been approved by the Director, The Tribe will be notified by award letter of the grant.  A contract will be executed between the Department and the tribal government by a digital routing and signature process requiring a valid email for the digital execution of the contract by the tribal signatory.  If an application has not been approved, program staff will notify the authorized application preparer and will work with staff to modify or improve the application.

Download a full copy of the 2018-2019 ICED Program Guidelines.