The 1st Northern Frontier Summit officially concluded yesterday with calls for clear-cut strategies and applicable legislation to accelerate the economic redevelopment of the Northern Islands, which participants touted as an integral part of the Commonwealth with many untapped potentials.
The inaugural summit, held at the Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan, brought together over 80 legislators, government officials, and business leaders to listen to presentations on an array of topics, which outline the Northern Islands' vast economic opportunities.
Jerome Kaipat Aldan of the Northern Islands Development Planning Committee welcomed participants to the daylong summit, which was broadcast live on the Internet, providing access to Northern Marianas natives from anywhere in the world.
Aldan labeled the summit as an “open dialogue and exchange of ideas” as they endeavor to generate economic success, with emphasis on sustainability, in the Northern Islands and the rest of the CNMI.
The summit, Aldan said, will serve as a guide for the Northern Islands Mayor's Office in efforts to formulate realistic action plans that are both short-term and long-term.
Expert panelists talked about and answered questions on areas covering free trade zone, agriculture, land use and natural resources, fishing, island tourism, alternative energy, a prospective cruise liner expedition, and filming and production.
But as insights were offered on these exciting economic opportunities, yesterday's keynote speaker brushed on the different challenges that the Commonwealth cannot afford to undermine in its efforts to explore such prospects.
Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Douglas Brennan noted that logistics would be a major issue given the lack of accessibility between the Northern Islands and Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
“We need a convenient, cost-effective means to travel and transport products and people to and from the islands,” said Brennan. He pointed out, though, that there are options to explore to address this challenge, including the airport in Pagan.
Brennan emphasized the need to keep the Northern Frontier Summit going, challenging island leaders to take the lead to put mutually beneficial and sustainable options for the Northern Islands while maintain its “intrinsic allure” and “cultural heritage.”