The Gathering returning to Choctaw Nation in 2024

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Collaborator: VNN Content Studio
Published: 04/20/2024, 5:53 AM
Edited: 05/22/2024, 4:03 AM
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Native Commerce News is sponsored by the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma (AICCO), dedicated to expanding Indian Country commerce across the globe. 

Written By: Rachael Schuit

(DURANT, Okla.) The Gathering Business Summit is an annual conference that brings Native businesses, Tribal businesses and allied businesses together with the goal of advancing Indian Country commerce.

Held by the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma (AICCO), the Gathering is set to return to Choctaw Nation this July 10-12. The return south to the Choctaw Reservation is five years in the making, as the annual business summit was held there in 2018 and 2019. 

“It is the best attended Native business conference in the state, emphasizing the positive impact we have on the community,” AICCO State President Bailey Walker said. “This collaboration with the Choctaw Nation and Durant on our crown jewel is a massive opportunity for networking, cultural exchange, business growth, and community involvement, reflecting a dedication to diversity and inclusive business practices.”

Billy Hamilton, Director of the Choctaw Small Business Development program, said their program is one of many looking forward to its return. 

“This brings a lot of opportunities for our local Chahtapreneurs to network their businesses and to make connections with other Native businesses throughout the state,” Hamilton said.

The Choctaw Nation currently has 1,735 Choctaw tribal member-owned businesses, referred to as ‘Chahtapreneurs,’ within reservation boundaries. Hamilton said these businesses have created nearly 5,000 jobs for the community.

While a goal of the conference is to provide space for attendees to network and gain industry insight, this year will also be an opportunity for AICCO to boost its bond with the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce, a relationship that has existed for many years.

Janet Reed, Executive Director for the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce, said she has been involved with that relationship since the beginning.

“My experience was very exciting as I always see the development of an organization that will help our city as a very positive move in any community,” Reed said. “Collaborating with AICCO for an event like The Gathering presents exciting opportunities for networking, cultural exchange, business development, and community engagement, all while demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion in business practices.”

Reed said events like The Gathering in Durant offers the opportunity for the Chamber of Commerce to further elevate Native Businesses. 

“The Durant Chamber of Commerce serves as a bridge between Native businesses and the broader business community, fostering collaboration, advocacy, and economic empowerment,” Reed said. “By actively supporting and promoting Native entrepreneurship, the Chamber contributes to a more inclusive and prosperous business environment for all.” 

Reed said she hopes conference-goers will also visit the city’s downtown area and consider opportunities to collaborate in Durant during the conference. 

“Experiencing what Durant and its surrounding area have to offer provides businesses with a broader perspective, new opportunities for growth and collaboration, and a deeper appreciation for the local community and culture,” said Reed. “This can ultimately contribute to strategic decision-making and long-term business success.”

“It is nice to have conferences like the Gathering to be held locally as it provides easier access to attend the event without having to travel multiple days,” Hamilton said. “This is a barrier to some of our local businesses, so it is great when they are hosted close to home.”

“We are thankful for yet another opportunity to highlight our Native business community with what is promising to be our largest summit yet this July,” Walker said.

Those interested in registering for the conference or becoming a sponsor, can do so at https://aiccok.org/events/business-summit/ 

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