$10M meant to aid small biz

Atalig says 150 small businesses expected to avail of BOOST program

Regardless of the accusations and complaints of some lawmakers, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said his administration is going to continue to move forward and provide $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to help small businesses in the CNMI.

In response to a question during Friday’s radio press briefing, Torres said that they have a portfolio of American Rescue Plan Act investments funds that are intended to enhance and stimulate the economy. That’s where the “Building Optimism, Opportunities and Stability Together,” or BOOST program, came about, he added.

BOOST is project of the Office of the Governor and the Department of Commerce that aims to provide loan assistance to CNMI businesses and non-profit organizations.

At the same press briefing Friday, Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said they are expecting about 150 businesses to submit applications for the BOOST program within a period of four to six weeks.

Torres said the BOOST program will create and give opportunities for those that are currently in business or those that want to be in business and create something different from the tourism industry-related businesses in the CNMI.

“So this is…a shoutout to all our partners to make this a reality,” said the governor, who encouraged everyone who’s looking into business to come in and create a portfolio or a business plan.
“I hope that you get accepted and be successful business partners,” Torres said.

Atalig said they’ve set aside $10 million in their original ARPA spending plan to help small businesses and that they’re utilizing the U.S. Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business—those that have 300 or fewer employees and have not generated more than $10 million in annual business receipts. “If you look at the whole Commonwealth, pretty much every business qualifies under that definition,” Atalig said.

He said they have made the qualifications for the BOOST program applicable for small businesses. “This is just to give more opportunities to real smaller business companies in the Commonwealth,” he said.
Atalig said the BOOST program is just in addition to the Department of Commerce receiving $56 million to help small businesses.

He said the whole Friends of Business Summit last Wednesday identified a lot of other sources of opportunities for small businesses.

Atalig said the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority has a loan program too for small businesses.
“What we have is a lot of resources for entrepreneurs to start a business, as well as businesses to expand or get assistance to be successful,” he said.

Atalig said the whole idea is to have a good return on investments and generate tax dollars in the community so when the ARPA funds are all used up, the CNMI will have a tax base that has already recovered and hopefully having pre-pandemic numbers in the Commonwealth.

He said the goal is make sure small businesses are successful and they help contribute to the tax-base for the Commonwealth.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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