Friday, December 30, 2022
As we mark the end of 2022, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers (GCEA) looks back on a year of growing partnerships, greater community involvement, and a reinvigorated motivation to unlock the next chapter for the Marianas economy in this post-pandemic period for our world and our islands.
Looking back on the year, we have much to be thankful for. We saw tourism arrivals begin their growth toward pre-pandemic levels. We welcomed the resumption of direct flights to Japan made possible through partnerships with the CNMI and United Airlines. We saw the increasing surge of community involvement in partnering to beautify our islands through the adoption of public sites by private and community organizations through the GCEA’s Public Private Partnership initiative.
The growth and impact of this program in 2022 have been truly remarkable. This past year saw greater participation in the PPP program that looks to align community organizations, businesses, and government agencies to the goal of upgrading and maintaining public facilities and sites throughout the Marianas. To date, the PPP has 103 outstanding organizations that have signed on to adopt 123 sites across Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. The Council thanks each of the organizations, public sector agencies, and the Mayors’ Offices for their valuable contribution to this effort. They invested their time, resources, and skills with the common goal of transforming and preserving these sites for future generations.
This year marked the start of the Council’s newest initiative, the Marianas School Pride (MSP) campaign, which aims to increase ownership and pride in local school campuses that are pillars of our community. Increasing the quality of life and learning at the school level is the greatest investment we can make in our children.
MSP launched in 2022 following months of outreach and communication with Marianas educational institutions to develop a program specific to the students. MSP is a beautification and school community-building campaign that includes a multi-faceted approach to educating, informing, and engaging students through activities, beautification projects, and exciting contests. In addition, MSP aims to inspire students of the Marianas to take pride in where they live, learn, and play. Programs within the MSP initiative include the Advisor & Ambassador Program, which selected student Ambassadors from the schools who are tasked to lead and manage the submission of proposals for a beautification project; Campus Beautification provides an opportunity for students to show their pride and respect for their school campus by submitting a proposal for a school beautification project and earn points towards cash prizes; Christmas Decorating Contest to challenge students to compete for the best campus Christmas display; Campus Mural Contest aimed to see artwork developed by students to showcase what makes their school unique; and the Anti-Vandalism & Anti-Littering Campaigns to encourage the youth to create and produce video commercial materials that promote anti-vandalism and anti-littering in their campuses and villages among others.
This collaboration between the private sector and our islands’ educational institutions could not have been possible without the leadership and vision of the Marianas’ education champions across schools and campuses, for which the Council is immensely grateful.
This past year also allowed the Council to combine the experience and expertise of the private sector and community toward the advancement of islands in the creation of GCEA’s first 10-Year Plan. This plan is a living document, a foundation from which the priorities, ideas, and solutions to the Marianas’ evolving challenges can be captured, analyzed, and discussed toward innovative and productive solutions for the improvement of the islands.
Since its creation in 2020, the Council has set forward an ambitious mission of developing the Marianas to become a world-class destination and to improve the standards of living for the residents of these islands. In securing these goals, the 10-Year Plan seeks a comprehensive assessment of the potential solutions to present issues facing the islands, through utilizing the expertise and knowledge of the Marianas’ private sector leaders to cover the areas of Tourism, Sustainability, Infrastructure and Workforce Development, Small Business Development and Retention, Investment, Government Services, and development in Tinian and Rota.
Through engagement with stakeholders and within the Council the first 10-Year Plan contains 37 recommendations for short-, medium-, and long-term actions that are possible in advancing the Marianas toward 2030. The plan, in full, can be found on GCEA’s website cnmieconomy.com.
As a part of this planning effort, GCEA participated in the 2022 Friends of Small Business Summit, through the planning committee on Small Business Development and Retention. Through this event, GCEA supported the wide-ranging survey of business leaders, in collaboration with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center, that collected critical data on the needs and perceptions of small businesses finding that, among other things, the greatest challenge in both the short- and long-term perspectives is the cost of doing business in the Marianas. This Summit and the data gathered on the issues facing small businesses in our economy will be critical in the many policy and community initiatives that are possible in the months and years ahead.
Overall, despite the challenges faced by the still-recovering economy in the Marianas, there has still been a tremendous amount of progress made to improve our community by all who call these islands home. We enter into the coming year stronger than we were at the start of 2022, and the work will continue in all of us doing our parts, in whatever way we can, to see recovery and success become a reality in 2023.
Happy New Year on behalf of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.
By Matthew Deleon Guerrero
Matthew Deleon Guerrero is a Saipan-based economist serving as the Chairman of the GCEA’s Fiscal Economic Diversification Committee, an advisory council to the Governor. Matt has served as an economics instructor at the Northern Marianas College and holds a Master’s Degree in Economics. The GCEA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.