The annual gala of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce last Saturday saw not only the selection of Pacific Island Club Saipan general manager Gloria Cavanagh as its Business Person of the Year but also the presentation of four other awards that honored other integral members of the community.
The awards— Saipan Young Professional of the Year, Chamber Member of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, and Small Business of the Year—were presented Saturday at the Chamber gala at the Hyatt Regency Saipan ballroom.
Thirty-one year old Nicole Babauta won the Saipan Young Professional of the Year award for her work as administrator of the CNMI Small Business Development Center, where she has been working since 2017.
Last year, she was given the 2018 America’s Small Business Development Center State Star Award for her work contributing to SBDC’s economic development projects and her commitment to CNMI small businesses.
Babauta holds a degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. “I am very honored and I share this award [with] the other nominees with whom I worked and collaborated over the years. I encourage the young professionals of today and the future to work hard, stay open to new learnings and let us continue to work together,” she said.
Her father, Ben Babauta, a BPOY awardee in 2009, said, “I am really proud of her. It has been a journey of hard work and the goal to improve the business sector and the community. She did an awesome job,” he said.
It was a tie between IT&E-CNMI and the CNMI Small Business Development Center for the Chamber Member of the Year award.
IT&E-CNMI general manager Rose Soledad said that they have always been a big supporter of the business and CNMI community. “We always do our best to deliver whatever service we offer and I think we have proven ourselves every time, especially during typhoons where communication is very crucial. IT&E was there and always will be,” she said. “We will continue doing our best for 2020 as we extend our fiber network and work on going 5G.”
Nicole Babauta, administrator of the CNMI Small Business Development Center, received the award and thanked Gov. Ralph Torres and CNMI Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman. “…Their continued support of CNMI SBDC is behind our success. …We would like to thanks the CNMI community as well and I hope they continue to let us know how we can improve so that we can help more,” she said. “We plan to work closely with our sister islands—Guam, Kosrae, Palau and Pohnpei— as we hope to launch the Micronesia Regional Trade Programs that will allow interested individuals to train amongst the island. …Please walk through our doors and we will help set you up.”
The Non-Profit of the Year award went to the Tan Siu Lin Foundation for its many charitable acts, events, and projects that help uplift individuals and families in the CNMI. The foundation’s executive director, Merlie Tolentino, who received the award, said, “…It is great to be recognized by business people. All of us are working hard—whether in business or charitable works—to help the CNMI.”
“For this year, we are in the process of developing activities and events to encourage the CNMI community to live a healthier lifestyle. …We are also currently organizing different events with possible partnerships with different government offices,” she added.
Island Training Solutions won the Small Business of the Year award. ITS conducts professional training and consultancy and a big supporter of workforce development in the CNMI through Latte Training Academy. LTA owner Jim Arenovski said that investing in the CNMI’s workforce development is a passion. “I am fortunate enough to have lots of great customers and people know the quality of the work that we have done. …By investing in individuals starting from high school all the way to college…we have touched the lives of many people,” he said.
“We have a pool of great instructors like Kanai Quinn and Tyce Mister that help with development and training in destination enhancement and business operations. …For this year, our goal is rededicate ourselves to quality and safety certifications We also plan to get more certifications in Emotional Intelligence training and we are also broadening our focus on “Mastermind Thought Process” training,” he added.