The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers (GCEA) wishes to express its appreciation for the leadership of Governor Ralph DLG. Torres in establishing the strongest linkage with the Marianas’ private sector and for the collaboration that has resulted from it over the last two years. GCEA was created in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic with the recognition that the Marianas economy needed a concerted effort to stabilize and rebuild the private sector. However, GCEA was not the first attempt at incorporating small business needs within the government.
GCEA was created by Governor Torres following a review of the many past attempts to ensure small business partnership with the government that relies on a stable and flourishing economy. Many prior attempts failed to establish strong partnerships and resulted in a decades-long continuation of government and the private sector operating apart. The creation of GCEA in this administration, and through the commitment and leadership of Governor Torres, showcased, for the first time in generations, that partnership with the Marianas’ small business community and the larger private sector is possible and beneficial for the entire Commonwealth.
Governor Torres as Co-Chairman of GCEA has lead the charge for the implementation of many of the private sector recommendations, laying the groundwork for the tremendous successes of the Public Private Partnership initiative that has seen over 98 private sector and community organizations adopting the transformation of 119 of the Marianas’ public sites and facilities, the establishment of the Marianas School Pride campaign within 11 schools, the creation of the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority, and the resumption of tourism arrivals through South Korea and Japan, the building of new markets in Australia, among many others.
The efforts of this administration have brought greater community involvement into our tourism sector, revitalized public parks, beaches, facilities and accommodations. We have seen greater emphasis on proactive economic development aimed at encouraging the types of investments we need for the economy to prosper. We have all been recipients of the economic stimulus payments that supported the needs of families and provided resources for individuals to shop and support employment opportunities for residents. We are all beneficiaries of new roads and resources connecting our community and supporting commerce through the finalization of Isa Dr., the creation of the Route 36 Cross Island highway, construction of Industrial Dr. improvements to Beach Road, and the establishment of the Marianas’ first federal marine highway.
All of these efforts build upon the foundation of an administration eager to work with the private sector on the most pressing issues facing our economy. Through Governor Torres’ willingness to bring the voices of small businesses and the private sector into critical conversation of policy, the Marianas has accomplished significant achievements. In this administration, we all saw the accomplishment of the only successful 902 consultations with the federal government, with the only two successful consultations happening within the Torres administration. These consultations with both the President Obama and Trump tackled the significant issues of militarization, labor and immigration, and access to critical tourism markets. Through commitment and persistence of Governor Torres in engaging with the private sector and the federal government, military training activities now better support economic development in Tinian and the Northern Islands, immigration reform for the Marianas was signed into law, and the Marianas will remain open to the world’s largest tourism markets.
Government cannot operate successfully without a strong private sector comprised of both the small and medium-sized businesses that operate in the Marianas. But the private sector, and the many employees that rely on it, require a government that understands and supports its success. Operating a successful business in the Marianas requires tourism and the access to regional markets, quality roads to connect customers with stores and products, affordable inter-island air service to connect Saipan, Tinian and Rota, access to and training of workers, reliable healthcare and utilities, and a commitment of public resources to ensure public sites are maintained for all residents and visitors.
As GCEA enters into its third year of existence in the Marianas, we can look back to the success of this government in creating a strong economy. Today, we see greater access to tourism markets, more quality roads, greater connectivity between the islands with the start of Marianas Southern Air, the largest ratio of US workers in the labor force, 65% higher wages for employees, 24% reduction in poverty levels, better healthcare options and services, more renewable energy and significant investments within our power system, and a fostering of community ownership in our public sites and schools.
We wish to thank Governor Torres for committing to a strong partnership with the private sector that has seen these things become a reality, and for partnering toward our shared goals of advancing the standard of living for all residents of these islands. These past two years has been a remarkable success for all who reside in the Marianas, and accomplishments such as these and the many we have seen deserve recognition and appreciation. Thanks in large part to Governor Torres for understanding and listening to the needs of the Marianas private sector, our economy and our community is stronger, employees have greater opportunities, individuals are earning a higher income, and we are on our way to creating the CNMI to become a world class destination.
Thank you, Governor Torres, for embodying the spirit of GCEA’s motto and believing that Together, We Can.