Good turnout for business summit, official says

COMMERCE Secretary Mark Rabauliman said he is happy with the turnout for the business summit organized by his department and the governor’s office on Wednesday.

Dozens of business owners and interested individuals from Saipan, Tinian and Rota participated in the event held at the jam-packed PIC’s Charley.

Rota and Tinian residents joined via video-conference at the Northern Marianas College instructional site there.

Rabauliman said it may not be the first business summit organized in the CNMI, but it was the first that was held amid the growing economy.

He said the summit’s goal is to inspire community members to venture into business and be entrepreneurs.

Everyone should take advantage of the growing economy, he said, adding that now is the right time to think about doing business in the CNMI.

He said there are lots of programs offered by the local and federal governments designed to empower individuals to take the next step.

Matthew Deleon Guerrero, the governor’s chief of staff and one of the panelists, said the turnout was “amazing.”

The goal of the summit, he added, “is to encourage everyone, provide information about business opportunities and allow participants to connect with people who have successful businesses. It’s all about capitalizing on the growth and making sure that it branches out to Rota and Tinian, too.”

Another panelist, Phillip Mendiola-Long, chief executive officer of Bridge Investment Group, said the business conference was for small or mid-size businesspersons.

“Anything that can provide them with more information and background that can increase their business or make it more efficient or even allow them to start a business is a good opportunity. This is good and should be done at least twice a year with follow ups for those interested.”

Among the panelists were Alex Sablan, vice president, Tan Holdings Corp.; Don Browne, senior vice president for operations, Imperial Pacific International; and Perry Inos Jr., operations manager of Triple J Saipan.

The topic “Nurturing Opportunities” discussed, among other things, the kinds of services that businesses can provide on Rota.

John Holman of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who participated via video-conference, talked about exporting which was also the subject discussed by Kenneth Lujan, Guam branch manager for the Small Business Administration.

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion talked about business opportunities in tourism such as providing parking services in Garapan. Customs Director Jose C. Mafnas discussed shipping laws and policies.

The other panelists were business owners Marco Peter of Coco Limited; Jay Wolf of Saipan Brewing Company; Arielle Buyum of AB Consulting; Thomas TJ Manglona, general manager of Tribes Marianas; Joe Ayuyu Jr., general manager of McDonald’s Saipan; Annie Hayes, general manager of Herman’s Modern Bakery; John Blanco, owner of Sablan Topline; Jamaika Taijeron, promotions manager of DFS; Ramon Camacho, acting board president of the Saipan Farmers Market; Michael Ogo, program lead for agriculture, NMC-CREES; Dr. Carmen Fernandez, NMC president; Manuel Tenorio, director of the Division of Agriculture; local fisherman Diego Benavente; and John Sanchez of the CNMI Grants Office.

Also participating were House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez; Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero; Sen. Sixto Igisomar; John Arroyo, president and CEO, Bank of Saipan; Marcie Tomokane, vice president and CNMI regional manager of Bank of Guam; Rose Sumor, vice president; Saipan branch manager of Bank of Hawaii; Marvin Deleon Guerrero, assistant vice president of Saipan branch manager, BankPacific; Marie Coleman, loan officer at Commonwealth Development Authority; Oscar Camacho, economic development analyst at CDA; and Nicole Babauta, administrator for Small Business Development Center.

The business summit started at 9 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m. It was followed by a two-hour expo that featured Latte Training Academy, Christian Dior and Reverse Photography.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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