Friday, August 5, 2022
Håfa Adai yan Tirow Wóómi! August 2022 marks the second full year of operation for the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers (GCEA). The Council's efforts throughout the year exhibit the value of collaboration between the private sector and our government to enhance the quality of life for all residents.
The Council, under the leadership of Co-chairman Jerry Tan, has played an instrumental role in bridging the gap and incorporating the viewpoints of local businesses and organizations in community policies and activities. The Council has accomplished a great deal in two short years. One of GCEA’s greatest successes is the establishment and growth of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program, which models the spirit of one Marianas and neighbors helping neighbors. PPP partners have committed to adopting their sites for five years and have helped to improve our public sites for all to enjoy. Join me in thanking them for another great year of service that benefits our entire community.
From tourism recovery to envisioning the Marianas as a world-class destination, the Council has made significant progress in 2021 through the work of its committees.
For the first part of 2021, the Council worked to prepare the CNMI for the return of tourism. The safe and successful resumption of tourism has been its top priority and one I consider a valuable achievement. Through the South Korean travel bubble agreement and the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan (TRIP), the CNMI has received more than 7,000 tourists this year. As we anticipate the launch of United’s direct service between Saipan and Narita/Tokyo, Japan on Sept. 1, I applaud the diligence of the Marianas Visitors Authority, the Tourism Resumption Task Force, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, and all who were involved in this initiative.
On top of tourism resumption, the community was able to celebrate the beginning of our COVID-19 recovery by inviting our Pacific brothers and sisters to compete in the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games (NMPMG). NMPMG was a resounding victory for our athletes and the CNMI. In a post-pandemic period in the Pacific, we were able to demonstrate that the Marianas is prepared to re-enter the tourist market. NMPMG also became our first venture into exploring strategies for growing sports tourism.
The Council's long-term goal of transforming the Marianas into a world-class destination prompted the launch of the Marianas Village Pride (MVP) Campaign. MVP is designed to instill a sense of pride and ownership within the community. With this came five offshoot community programs to encourage widespread pride and participation. We saw the unveiling of our beautiful new village flags during the NMPMG, and we continue to reap the benefits of the Adopt-A-Median Program. You can count on GCEA’s program to meet its mission: to improve the quality of life in the Marianas.
The road to recovery
We have accomplished so much in the last two years, and we are excited about what lies ahead. The Council’s recent program, the Friends of Business Summit, has been in the works for the past couple of months. GCEA and its partners the CNMI Small Business Development Center Network and Saipan Chamber of Commerce are engaging business owners and managers in conversation about the challenges of launching and maintaining a business in the CNMI. The partners will identify suitable solutions and will work with local agencies to improve efficiency through e-government platforms. We look forward to expanding this effort as we launch the Marianas Business Pride program this month.
I invite all small business owners/managers to join us at the Friends of Business Summit on August 10, 2022, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Taga Hall in the Saipan World Resort. We want as many businesses as possible to attend and share their opinions with us, so that we can prioritize initiatives that will positively support their needs.
For our students, the Council is thrilled to launch the Marianas School Pride program for elementary, middle, and high school students in public and private schools. Our Marianas Village Pride Campaign was successful, and we know we can engage our students in caring for their schools and villages. Instilling pride in our youth is a lesson that will reap exponential benefits in their lives.
Looking ahead, we must build upon the success we achieved during the pandemic, such as working toward economic diversification by inviting new and innovative industries to establish a presence in the CNMI.
The Council also has a goal of better supporting healthier lifestyles for all who call the Marianas home. We see a new role for government in the lives of our people by encouraging healthy living, maintenance of community facilities, and the modernization of our infrastructure to make lives easier.
All the accomplishments of the previous year were a result of the CNMI's extraordinary efforts to safeguard its people from the COVID-19 pandemic. The swift access to immunizations and the implemented measures allowed the CNMI to design a path toward recovery. Together, We Can!
For more information about GCEA’s programs, visit cnmieconomy.com, engage with the council on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at email@example.com.
By Gov. Ralph DLG Torres
The Honorable Ralph DLG. Torres is the 9th Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the co-chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.