FERNDALE, Wash. – Henry James’ lifelong calling to help his Lummi people has taken shape in a unique business platform. James said his Indian name SuKadem means to help his people, a task he doesn’t take lightly as the founder of the James Trading Company, LLC.
“I agonized for a long time on how I was going to do this,” he said. “It’s something that I take personally, and I am driven by that name to accomplish something that has meaning to change the paradigm of living on the reservation.”
He finds that most tribal members prefer to stay and work on the reservation, and opening companies on his homeland could bolster employment in an area with a high unemployment rate, and provide job opportunities for non-Natives living in the area.
The goals of the fledgling company are multiple, but to explain it simply, the James team wants domestic and international manufacturing companies to form a teaming agreement with them to produce goods and services on the Lummi Indian Reservation, a trade free zone.
His status as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, American minority, and an 8(a) minority contractor located in a HUBZone moves him toward the top of the list in the procurement of government contracts. And through the company’s Trading Gateways Web site, global companies can learn the ABCs on how this method works and the costs.
Photo courtesy Peter James Creative Studio
Doug Robertson, project director for the James Trading Company, sits with founder Henry James. The company, as Robertson stated, is in a very small percentage of other American organizations that are competing for contract options from the U.S. government. Special category businesses, like James Trading Company, have the first right to purchase three percent of the budget, or $3.6 trillion.
Project Director Doug Robertson said the U.S. government has specified that special category businesses have the first right to purchase three percent of its entire federal purchasing budget, which equates to $3.6 trillion.
At this level they are competing with a small percentage of other American organizations for contract options.
“When you start combining these aspects, then you go to the top of the line when it comes to procurement,” he said.
Robertson said the government releases about 95,000 solicitations each day, and are looking to buy everything from novelty hard hats to drone aircraft.
James introduced his business plan at the Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas in March, and was surprised by the response he received from attendees. “We told them our story, and they never thought of doing business the way we are professing to do.”
He also said that about 40 companies from RES expressed interest in the concept, but it’s too early to predict what companies will take advantage of their services.
James owns 160 acres on the reservation, and in strong contention are plans to construct a corporate business hub for international businesses, an information technology center that will provide high speed fiber optic connections, data storage services and a call center.
Additional plans call for a blending, bottling and packaging facility, warehouse and distribution facilities, and various manufacturing and assembly units.
Robertson said plans are currently underway that would allow Canada’s First Nations tribal businesses to create direct access to U.S. markets via the Lummi Nation.
In order to do this, James and members of his dedicated team have formed Clean Nations, Sea 2 Sky, and James Forest Products to provide environmentally sustainable services and the marketability to snap up government contracts.
Clean Nations, Inc. formed a partnership with a small foreign chemical company that had spent 10 years of scientific development to create a line of industrial grade, environmentally friendly solvents.
The publicly traded Sea 2 Sky manufactures biomass wood pellets, formed by sawdust and with minimal carbon output. They are in the works of forming partnerships with more than 25 different indigenous groups in five countries to supply them wood.
Their current North American supply comes from downed trees infested by the wood beetle. By converting the trees to pellets, the company said it reduces toxic gases released by forest fires and decaying trees. Currently, they are forming agreements with First Nations’ tribes that sit on prime timber
“It’s going to benefit more than one reservation, it’s going to benefit the First Nations in Canada,” James said.
James Forest Products plans to import timber from the First Nations to the U.S. via the Lummi Nation, and without tax or duty.
“Using the James platform, they are trading between historic partners that pre-date European colonization,” Robertson said “Borders and trade barriers as we know them cease to exist when trading between indigenous groups.”
The Lummi Indian Reservation is located in the inland northwest corner of Washington, eight miles west of Bellingham and 20 miles south of the Canadian border, in western Whatcom County.
For more information call (888) 587-3654.