Friday, January 7, 2022
This past year saw the continuation of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to the CNMI community and economy. The dramatic reduction in tourism arrivals and the constant threat of widespread outbreaks have led to severe impacts on employment, business revenue, and our way of life in the Marianas.
However, through these challenges, we have also seen the strength of the foundation of our community and how this foundation will lead us to even greater opportunities in the years ahead. As the New Year has begun, so has the renewed opportunity to raise the Marianas’ standard of living and better improve the quality of life for all residents. The issues we have faced in 2021 have refined our vision to target these areas in the year ahead:
Destination Transformation and Marianas Village Pride
It is the GCEA’s vision to build the Marianas to become a world-class destination not only for our visitors but most especially for everyone who calls the islands home. Our goal is to achieve this together within the next 10 years. This long-term plan requires thoughtful visioning and careful planning. It requires commitment, cooperation, and support from everyone in the Marianas. It won’t happen overnight, but to get there, we have to achieve milestone after milestone towards this goal, and we believe that Together, We Can!
The GCEA will bring together community organizations, business partners, and government agencies to work toward the goal of transforming our sites and public facilities across Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. In 2022, we will see even more transformative changes to the sites owned by our community. Together, we will enhance their beauty, strengthen their sustainability, and increase their usability for all to enjoy.
This ties in with our new initiative for the coming year. We will be transforming our public sites and providing opportunities for residents to take pride and ownership of their homes, schools, and businesses. We will expand on the Marianas Village Pride campaign and look forward to working even closer with our mayors, schools, and residents to highlight the uniqueness of each village, foster pride in our local communities, build partnerships among neighbors, and create a sense of ownership of the Marianas.
The environment is our most valuable resource. Littering, illegal dumping, and issues with solid waste management threaten the growth and safety of our islands. GCEA’s initiative to create a universal garbage collection (UGC) system for the Marianas led to the establishment of the Universal Garbage Collection Task Force, which recently submitted its recommendations to Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres. The Council will continue this important discussion to make UGC a reality for our community and our environment. Additionally, the Council further supports UGC Task Force’s recommendation to establish the Governor’s Environmental Council to advance the community’s participation in the critical issues facing our environment.
In 2022, the Council seeks to improve the relationships among government agencies, the private sector, and federal funding opportunities. We look forward to the further implementation of electronic permitting, the transition to e-government platforms, and the streamlining of procurement and permitting, all of which can positively affect the Marianas’ recovery and revitalization efforts.
The Marianas is a unique multi-island destination that holds opportunities for diverse commercial development and economic growth. The Marianas as a vibrant multi-island destination has been outlined by reports provided by the Council, but hinges upon reliable, sustainable, and affordable transportation options. Establishing inter-island transportation is more obtainable than ever with the wealth of resources provided by the federal government and the strong partnerships between the public and private sectors. There have been major milestones achieved so far. The designation of the Marianas’ first Marine Highway established through the good work of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, led by Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds, provides more opportunities to build stronger connections between the islands.
As much as we’d love to see our recommendations come to fruition overnight, we know that they will take time, planning, and adjusting when difficulties come about. We are confident in our community’s commitment to helping the Marianas reach its full potential.
Every resident is a valuable stakeholder in making the Marianas a better place to live. We can all lend a hand by picking up trash, painting medians and bus stops, and clearing overgrown trails. It can be as simple as leaving the beaches and parks cleaner than how we find them. No effort is ever too small, and collectively we can help take better care of our islands.
I thank each council member, PPP volunteers, government agencies, corporate and nonprofit partners, mayors, and our community for their service and commitment to the Marianas. Our islands’ success relies on every one of us.
Together, We Can!
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jerry Tan
Jerry Tan is the Chief Executive Officer of Tan Holdings and the Co-Chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers. As a recognized entrepreneur and employer, Jerry is a passionate advocate for volunteerism and giving back to the community.