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“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.”

Friday, August 12, 2022

This year has been very exciting, particularly at the start of the year when the Northern Marianas College was chosen as the new home of the CNMI Small Business Development Center Network (CNMI SBDC Network)– a significant milestone for the CNMI. This is the first time our Commonwealth was granted money for its own Lead Network, distinct from the Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network situated in Guam. This essentially means that the CNMI now has full jurisdiction over federal funds awarded to it to expend and execute programs that assists our Saipan, Tinian, and Rota small businesses in providing technical assistance and guidance.

The Friends of Business Summit, held this past Wednesday at the Saipan World Resort, was the first of four signature events planned by CNMI SBDC Network. The Friends of Business Summit was a great kickoff for us as it supports our initiative to integrate the private and public sectors to engage the business community and improve business-related services to increase economic capacity and consumer product and service selection output.

Our office intended to highlight the SBDC's no-cost services and raise awareness of its programs. The no-cost service helps entrepreneurs establish a business or expand earnings and reach by improving operations and marketing. Our community can expect the Summit to be the first of several events being hosted by the collaborative efforts of the CNMI SBDC, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.

Our primary purpose is to engage the business community to provide a solution-oriented, secure space where business partners and stakeholders can share views and ideas to increase company efficiencies and remove stop gaps in the Commonwealth's economic eco-system. Such efforts led to the release of the CNMI's first ever Small Business Survey results, which we may apply to make more informed decisions moving forward.

For example, the CNMI SBDC Network can now make data-driven decisions versus arbitrary assumptions that one practice works better over the other based on a measurable metric generated by the results of the survey. The SBDC intends to acquire funding for such research annually so the community may benefit from additional studying and measuring to enhance business services.

The CNMI SBDC Network would like to especially thank the CNMI Department of Labor, the CNMI Bureau of Military Affairs Economic Development Program, the Saipan Zoning Office, the CNMI Department of Commerce, the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority and most especially the CNMI Office of the Governor and the U.S. Congress Office of Gregorio Kilili Sablan for thinking of our small business owners and allotting a portion of the ARPA funds to be utilized at a time when it is most needed through the introduction of the Building Optimism, Opportunities and Stability Together program.

I'd also like to thank the local business owners and managers who attended the summit, our in-person guests from Tinian and Rota, and the dedicated team at World Resort for helping us put our plans into action.

Ultimately, the CNMI SBDC hopes that hosting the Friends of Business Summit sponsored by the CNMI Small Business Development Center, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce has increased community awareness of the multitude of available services, initiatives and goals each of our participating presenters had to share so we can all partake in improving the quality of life for all who call the Marianas home.

Truly, with this remarkable collaboration– Together, We Can.

For more information visit the GCEA website at Engage with the Council on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy) or contact them at

By Nadine C. Deleon Guerrero

Nadine C. Deleon Guerrero is the CNMI SBDC Network network director. Prior to assuming her current role, Nadine served on the CNMI Cannabis Commission board as its chairwoman where she had direct oversight on establishing the CNMI’s cannabis industry. Nadine has over 22 years of professional experience, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration with the University of Guam.

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