WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Friday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.7 million grant to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. on Saipan to assist with the construction of a new water filtration system. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $431,604 in local funds and is expected to help create 370 jobs and generate $110 million in private investment.
“The Trump administration is committed to helping U.S. territories recover and rebuild after natural disasters,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “These critical infrastructure improvements will support Saipan’s efforts in creating new jobs and spurring economic growth.”
“The construction of the new filtration system will ensure the availability of fresh potable water on the island, supporting the capacity of local businesses after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. “The project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will help make more employment opportunities and higher wages available to the region’s workforce.”
“I want to thank the Trump administration for their steadfast commitment to the Marianas, as we continue our recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. “This EDA grant assists us in fulfilling our priority to provide 24-hour fresh potable water for residents on Saipan, while also creating new job opportunities for U.S. workers through the President’s Opportunity Zone initiative. The CNMI has benefited greatly from the President’s initiative, and we continue to promote our Opportunity Zones to businesses from the U.S. mainland. Our strong partnership with EDA has led to grants that will rebuild Northern Marianas College, our public schools, and community facilities, and I want to thank the EDA leadership, Mario Iglecias, and our grants team for their collaborative work on building a stronger Marianas.”
“This should be the first of many recovery grants to the Marianas from the funding we provided in the Disaster Relief Act, Public Law 116-20,” said Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP). “The Marianas economy is still struggling after Super Typhoon Yutu—and now the loss of tourism from coronavirus. So EDA grants with their emphasis on job creation and economic development are particularly important to our recovery. I also look forward to additional grants from EDA to help rebuild our schools, which are our very best tool for economic growth.”
This project is funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, or 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.
The funding announced Friday goes to one of Northern Mariana Island’s 20 Opportunity Zones. Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page .
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. (PR)