Approximately 20 businesses owned by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members participate in the Salt River Business Owners Association (SRBOA). SRBOA is an all-volunteer, non-political organization with members representing a wide variety of industries and small to large companies on the Community. The association unites the voices of business owners from the Community and supports and advocates for them. SRBOA supports its membership through networking and mentoring opportunities.
The group formed in 2005, after several Community members who owned businesses came together sharing similar stories about the challenges they faced in trying to be accepted and included on bid notifications and contracting opportunities within the Community in 2004. The first meeting was called in 2005.
“All attendees were in agreement that the new organization could be a forum for positive change and an avenue to provide necessary resources for our businesses,” said SRBOA President Margaret Rodriguez. The following year, SRBOA was formally recognized by Council Resolution on December 13, 2006.
SRBOA provides Community-member-owned businesses with information that is beneficial to all businesses, whether the business is certified through the SRPMIC’s Purchasing Department or not, or located on or off the Community.
SRBOA is an informal group where the exchange of information and networking are key. Speakers and guests are invited to provide business-related topics and information. As SRBOA builds relationships with local developers and construction companies, business opportunities are encouraged for Community-member-owned businesses. Although not all Community businesses participate with SRBOA, the association is open to all interested business owners who are members of the SRPMIC, explained Rodriguez.
What’s in the Future?
SRBOA hopes to develop a Web site for its members and potential new members and will continue to network with the Gila River Business Owners Association as well as build relationships with other business associations from other tribes. Another long-term goal for SRBOA is to help other Indian communities that have expressed interest in the preference process. Rodriguez said, “Our Community is far advanced in reaching out and providing opportunities for tribal members who own businesses. A preference process by other Indian communities could also include opportunities for our business people, too.”
SRBOA hopes to continue to build positive relationships with Community Enterprises for business opportunities and encourage the utilization or adoption of the Tribe’s preference process and SRPMIC’s certified vendors. Also, SRBOA works to build membership by encouraging entrepreneurship and nurturing new businesses.
“One of our main goals is to continue to collaborate with the Community, not just for today but especially for our future generations,” said Rodriguez. “The foundation that is being laid is assurance that our youth can one day find success within our Community, as well as off the Community, if they desire to become an entrepreneur.”
SRBOA also participated with Salt River Administration, Purchasing and Finance departments during the development of the SRPMIC procurement policy and Application for Certification. The policy helped business owners have a better opportunity for business here in the Community. The group continues to work in partnership with the Business Services Program of the Salt River Financial Services Institution for training opportunities and support services for new entrepreneurs and for all Community-member-owned businesses.
SRBOA members and their businesses have also given back to the Community through volunteer work, donating to Community organizations, or through fundraising efforts.
“Our businesses allow the dollar to stay in the Community and turn over several times before leaving to surrounding cities,” said Rodriguez. “When payment is made to Community-member businesses and its Community employees, it is used by families to buy from local businesses such as food vendors, stores and other services within the Community, including SRPMIC taxes, so the dollar contributes to SRPMIC’s economy before going off the Community.”
Elections will take place December 2011.
SRBOA meets every third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m., at the Scottsdale Pavilions at Talking Stick in the office of the Solanna Group. If any Community business owners are interested in attending, please provide your phone number or e-mail address and SRBOA will send the meeting date and information.
For information or questions about SRBOA, please contact Margaret Rodriguez at (480) 250-7566 or Anna Lee at (602) 628-5122