Makah Indian Tribe Rebuilds Critical Dock
In 2013, the Makah Indian Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington, experienced a devastating loss when its only commercial fishing dock in the area, where the Makah people have fished for more than 3,800 years, partially collapsed.
As the only dock within a 70 mile radius, fishermen did not have a place to offload their catch. Commerce and recreational activity accounts for about 50% of the tribe’s economy and the loss affected more than 400 people representing roughly 90 small businesses. Rebuilding this dock was critical to their economic well-being as commercial and sport fishing, marine vessel rescue, disaster response operations and repairs were distressed. With very few options, tribal leaders turned to long-time Wells Fargo banker Cora Gaane of Wells Fargo’s Native American Banking group for help.
Wells Fargo’s relationship with the tribe began in 2010 with accounts for the Cape Flattery Fishermen’s Co-op, formed by Tribal members to help market the fish they caught. The relationship continued to grow over the years and with financial education from Cora, tribal leaders learned the benefits of New Markets Tax Credits and how they could be used to finance a new dock. Cora introduced leaders to Scott Pinover from Wells Fargo Community Lending & Investment (CLI) to begin discussions about this financing option.
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