The US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $19.6 million to the CNMI Department of Finance yesterday for the construction of a new Economic Resiliency Center that’s needed to ensure continuity of government operations and support business growth. The EDA grant is expected to create 1,500 jobs.
The $19.6-million competitive grant award is one of the largest economic development grant awards to a state or territory in the history of the EDA, according to an Office of the Governor news statement yesterday.
“We are tremendously grateful to the EDA for their partnership as we continue to recover from the devastating effects of Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. “This new economic business center for the Department of Finance will enhance the CNMI’s ability to rebuild its economy in the long-term by creating a true one-stop shop concept, improving our current business processes, assisting small businesses, and serving as an incubator for the development of new industries to diversify our economy.”
He said part of his administration’s goal is to create jobs for the CNMI’s citizens “and this grant funding from EDA will certainly help us create these jobs and retain talent here on our islands.”
Torres praised Finance Secretary David Atalig and his team at the Department of Finance “for seeing this project through. Un dangkulu na si yu’us ma’ase yan ghilisow for our community’s support as we create a stronger economy with this competitive grant award for years to come.”
Atalig said the management of the CNMI’s economy is a top priority for the Department of Finance and the CNMI’s Yutu experience highlighted the importance of ensuringe disaster preparedness and quick recovery response. “I am so thankful for the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its partnership in rebuilding our economy and resiliency for our Commonwealth. This is truly a big win for the CNMI as we work to make it easier to do business in the Marianas,” said Atalig.
A separate statement quoted Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo as saying, “The Biden Administration is committed to helping the Northern Mariana Islands build back better from the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. This critical investment will help to ensure the continuity of critical business-focused government operations in the event of future natural disasters, and that this community can more fully recover from the last one.”
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. (Saipan Tribune)