On Thursday, June 20 we hosted our 9th Native Edge Institute in South Portland, Maine. It was our second NEI in the Northeast, after a successful stop in Niagara Falls, New York a month earlier. The lineup for speakers and presenters at NEI Maine was impressive, including the President and CEO of Maine Community Bancorp, the President and CEO of GP Contracting, the Maine District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a representative from the Maine International Trade Center. And of course, our own President and CEO Chris James was there to welcome attendees to a day of learning about the latest in procurement, entrepreneurship, and international trade.

Our featured speaker was Monica Simeon, Vice President and Managing Partner of Sister Sky Enterprises, INC and an enrolled citizen of the Spokane Tribe in Washington state. Sister Sky is a diversified company with two divisions:  professional consulting services and consumer products, most notably natural health and beauty supplies. After over 20 years of growing her company, Monica shared her entrepreneurial journey and highlighted how innovation, opportunity, partnership, and diversification were vital to her success. Sister Sky is entering its fifth year in the SBA 8(a) program, and Ms. Simeon and Sister Sky are examples of how hard work and innovative ideas can lead to success. We were thrilled that she joined us in Portland and provided words of wisdom and motivation for attendees.

Other highlights included representatives from a Native woman-owned company who made the drive up from Pennsylvania to take part in the NEI. And we were excited to welcome a member of one of the recently federally recognized tribes in Virginia. We look forward to continuing our NEIs and reaching all corners of the country. We hope you join us a National Center event in the near future.