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Alternative workforce: robots

AN American company is proposing to introduce a technology that can help address the CNMI’s workforce crisis: robotics.

John McElligott is CEO of York Exponential, a technology company that he said can rapidly deploy and develop robots. He is on island to do a presentation on the robotics industry.

With David Rixter, head of the company’s government and community relations office, McElligott met on Monday with Saipan Mayor David Apatang, the governor’s chief of staff Matthew Deleon Guerrero, Dave Maratita of the Department of Commerce and Commonwealth Development Authority officials Oscar Camacho and Manny Sablan.

“This is something to consider in case the CW program is not extended — it’s something to look at,” Mayor Apatang said. “I am curious about it and how it could work here in the CNMI.”

Deleon Guerrero agreed. “We’ve been talking about getting another industry and the importance of economic diversification. This is killing two birds with one stone: an industry that offers high income and high technology along with the possibility of supplementing our existing workforce because of our labor issue — it’s an idea that we should look into.”

Camacho said robotic technology is “happening and we cannot stop it, so this is also a good opportunity for our kids to learn about this stuff. Our kids are talented and up-to-date with technology, so it’s not a bad idea for them to learn about this kind of technology.”

He said CDA is trying to figure out what new investments, especially U.S-based, can be brought to the CNMI.

“Right now, things are uncertain so it’s not a bad idea to consider creating another industry to help our economy and sustain development.”

John McElligott and David Rixter will speak during the Innovation Summit hosted by CDA and the Department of Commerce at the Fiesta Resort today, Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Wednesday, they will also meet with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.

In a letter to Gov. Ralph Torres, the mayor of York City, Pennsylvania, Michael Helfrich, said their city is trying to cope with some of the same challenges the CNMI is now facing “as young people leave our city to look for other opportunities” elsewhere.

The mayor added, “We struggle to attract and retain new businesses and jobs. And as a whole generation of workers retire, we face an economy with few new workers to take their place.”

He said “these are problems that many isolated communities in the United States face and we realize that, as Americans, we must face these challenges not alone, but together. We are proud to be connected to Americans across the world and realize the important place that Saipan holds in U.S. history, in our current world — and the critical part the people of the Mariana Islands will play in the future of the United States and the success of all of our people.”

Change can be difficult, the mayor said, “but in the face of accelerating technology, change is a must. Artificial Intelligence, the Internet…and Robotics are emerging at a truly incredible pace…. Through emerging technologies like robotics and with the help of entrepreneurs and companies like York Exponential, we are charting a new path, a brighter and more inclusive future where every member of our society is included in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100611-alternative-workforce-robots

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