Senator Mark Kelly (AZ) joins Navajo business leaders on their Monday conference call
WINDOW ROCK – Ariz. – The Dineh Chamber of Commerce hosted U.S. Senator Mark Kelly on a conference call with Navajo businesses and entrepreneurs on June 29 to discuss their unique challenges. The chamber members also asked how his office could further and better support the Navajo business community.
“I realize that like many other tribal communities in Arizona, the Navajo Nation was especially hit hard by the pandemic,” said Kelly. “While in the Senate, I worked to dedicated funding for fixing tribal healthcare and education and other needed relief so we could continue to fight COVID-19.”
“I look forward to hearing today about some of the needs of Navajo businesses. I know it has been especially hard for businesses in the nation to have revenue. It’s been a struggle over the last year and a half,” Kelly continued. “My goal here is to hear from all of you. Make sure I have all the information I need to do my job successfully.”
Conference call host Derrick Watchman expressed gratitude to Sen. Kelly for taking time with the chamber members. Before calling on the business leaders for questions, he provided background information about the conditions and challenges of the Navajo Nation. He noted that the chamber calls started because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“The chamber was working hard to facilitate information to the businesses that are here on the Navajo Nation. During the CARES Act process on the Navajo Nation, over 6,000 businesses registered, exceeding our here at the chamber,” Watchman explained.
“As you know, senator, the Navajo Nation is still locked down for all practical purposes. So many of our small businesses, our tourism industry, our arts and crafts along highway 89 and Monument Valley, a lot of those are shut down,” he continued. “As we speak, the Navajo Nation is contemplating to what degree should the nation open its doors and roads so that we can get back to business.”
Watchman called on business leaders on the conference call to direct questions to Sen. Kelly. The questions mainly concerned expanding access to federal government contracts, funding and technical support for small business growth, and infrastructure for broadband access.
The senator acknowledged their concerns and provided feedback with what he knew about the topics. He assured the conference call participants that he would look further into the areas mentioned. His office would also work with the Navajo Nation and the Dineh Chamber of Commerce to address the various disparities.
“Internet access and having a high-data-rate connection is critical. Not only for small, medium, or any business, it is important for healthcare. It is important for education, basically everything,” Sen. Kelly admitted. “These are good conversations for me to have. We are taking notes, and we will follow up on some of this. As much data as you can share with our office is always helpful.”
About the Dineh Chamber of Commerce
The Dineh Chamber assists Navajo businesses and entrepreneurs with their unique challenges. The chamber is working to help the Navajo Nation facilitate and support efforts and opportunities for economic development, including maximizing the benefits of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding.