White House cites economist Rob Fairlie’s research on Native American entrepreneurship

Professional portrait of Rob Fairlie
Economics Professor Rob Fairlie

On Monday, the Biden-⁠Harris Administration announced new support for Tribal small businesses, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, and cited research by UC Santa Cruz Economics Professor Rob Fairlie on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact for Native American-owned businesses. 

Fairlie’s research compared rates of business ownership before and after the pandemic with demographic data to show that Native-owned small businesses experienced a disproportionate decline of roughly 40% in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. His overall findings on racial inequities in business impacts have since informed a wide range of economic recovery programs for small businesses at the state and federal levels. 

The White House pointed to Fairlie’s research as an example of the need to invest in Native-owned businesses and announced approval of the first 15 Tribal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awards for Tribal Governments funded by the American Rescue Plan, providing $73 million to 39 Tribal Governments to support Tribal enterprises and small business owners. These are the first-ever SSBCI awards directly to Tribal Governments.

Fairlie said he was glad to see policymakers paying close attention to economic data on Native American communities, and he hopes there will be increased research and visibility in this area in the future.  

“I'm especially excited about this, because very little research or policy focuses on Native Americans,” he said. “It's great to see that my research helped in this regard.”