The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has awarded a $11.2-million grant to the CNMI to rehabilitate the roads in the core Garapan tourist area.
This EDA grant, which was announced last Friday, is expected to help create nearly 300 jobs and generate more than $1.3 million in private investment. It will be used to upgrade streets in the Garapan area, where so many tourists spend time. Streets will be widened to approximately 24 feet with a minimum of 6 feet of sidewalks for tourists’ safety and comfort. New lighting, landscaping, and street markings and signages will be installed. In all, 10,685 linear feet of roads will be repaved.
“Rebuilding our roads after the devastating impact of Super Typhoon Yutu is critical to our long-term recovery here in the CNMI,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in a statement from the U.S. Commerce Department. “I want to thank [EDA], our federal partners, and our community for their resilience in the face of natural disasters and a global pandemic. With this funding, we will create hundreds of new jobs for our local workforce and ultimately build a stronger Marianas for the future.”
In a separate statement, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) thanked the Biden administration for the grant. “Congress appropriated these disaster recovery funds in June 2019 and the Commonwealth quickly submitted an application for Garapan revitalization, but the previous administration did not act,” Sablan said. “So, the congressional office met with the Biden transition’s Commerce Department team shortly after the election and asked that the Commonwealth’s disaster grant applications be prioritized.”
Altogether, the Commonwealth submitted seven applications worth $95 million from the disaster funds Congress appropriated in Public Law 116-20. Up to now only one application had been approved: $10.7 million for a workforce development and training facility at Northern Marianas College.
This project is funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (Public Law 116-20), which provided EDA with $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act. These disaster appropriations are separate from EDA’s normal, annual appropriation.
“The [EDA] plays an important role in helping communities impacted by natural disasters not only rebuild, but rebuild stronger,” said Dennis Alvord, acting assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will help the Northern Mariana Islands respond to the economic impact of Super Typhoon Yutu by making roadway infrastructure improvements that will support the capacity of employers to grow and provide high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities.” (PR)