Our Economic Development activities are channeled through our wholly owned subsidiary, Rappahannock Enterprises, LLC. Our goal is to provide the Tribe with economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable programs to ensure the future growth of the Tribe.
Since we began in late 2021, we’ve made progress in all areas of our Economic Development Strategic Plan, working on building a Federal Contracting program, defining the market potential and environment for our bottled spring water effort, and assembling strong building blocks for a sustainable agribusiness for the Tribe.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the exciting avenues we’re pursuing:
A sustainable agribusiness requires us to tend to both the plants we grow, and the soil that forms the foundation of our farms. As first step in developing a sustainable agribusiness, we’ve conducted detailed soil analyses of several properties, including both the physical and chemical nature of the soil, and an assessment of the microbial activity within the soil. These critical first assessments help us to better understand how to restore the soil to the sustainable, productive state that will produce higher value crops for sale and as food for Tribal members. We’re now conducting an economic assessment of specific potential food and medicinal crops.
In addition, to provide year-round revenue for the Tribe, we’re setting up a greenhouse-based program to provide high value crops as well as traditional native plants.
Rappahannock Enterprises is actively pursuing certification under the SBA 8(a) program, which will open multiple opportunities for additional federal contracting, both as prime contractor, and as a subcontractor. We’re working with our local NCAIED PTAC and the SBA SBDC to finalize our application.
We are pursuing opportunities in the areas of Management and Support Services, Conservation and Agriculture, IT Support Services, Training Solutions, and Cultural Programs. This will enable the Tribe to establish a strong base of experience with the Federal Government. Profits from these contracts will allow the Tribe to employ tribal members, gain new skills, and build long-term sustainable income.
We are increasing our involvement with regional communities to strengthen economic development for the entire area through regional planning, engaging organizations and localities, and promoting economic diversity. In this effort, the Tribe particularly strong in history, cultural, and environmental stewardship. The model is designed to enhance each community organization with the result that the collective benefits are enjoyed by the entire region.
A marketing research study for Rappahannock Bottled Spring Water was conducted, and the results show a promising market opportunity for the Tribe. More than 300 individuals were surveyed, and the results indicate that 73% of individuals in the area would be interested in purchasing spring water from the Tribe. Particularly interesting is the finding that those individuals who were familiar with the Rappahannock Tribe were much more likely to purchase bottled spring water than those who were less familiar with the Tribe. The takeaway message was that the more the Tribe increases its brand awareness, especially through social media, the more successful the bottled spring water project will likely be.
Our next step is to determine regulatory requirements and conduct a hydrogeological study of the spring.