NMI businesses urged to avail of restaurant aid program

Torres underscores need to assist struggling small businesses

Acknowledging the vital role of small businesses in the CNMI’s economy, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres encouraged restaurants and other food businesses that are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for direct relief through the $28.6-billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

In his response to a request for comment about the program during a radio news briefing on Friday, Torres urged all the affected businesses to avail of it. “With the way things run [here], the government can’t function without our partners or business partners,” said Torres.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, which administers the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program, opened the application period last May 3. So far, SBA has already approved more than 16,000 applications for assistance—just one week after opening the application process. See story on Page 5)

Entities eligible to apply include restaurants, caterers, bars bakeries, and breweries. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

Torres said that, with everyone struggling across the board, the government is here to assist small businesses in different ways. He noted that, by language and definition, 99% of the businesses in the CNMI are considered small businesses.

“It’s easy to say I want to help small businesses. That’s easy. I want to help and I will help,” he said. The issue is how do they help everybody across the board equally and as fairly as they can.

“We can go down the line on what kind of occupations, what kind of small businesses we will help. At the end of the day, small business is small business, and we need to help everybody across the board. One small business on your left, one small business on the right. In order for us to work as a government, we need both of them,” he said.

Torres also encouraged other entrepreneurs to take a risk and look at what the CNMI needs, whether it’s locally or even globally. “What can they produce here that we can send and export? What can we import that will also benefit locally?” he asked.

Torres assured that he’s always been pro-business because he understands that it’s the business partners that are able to sustain the economy and every opportunity for every individual in the CNMI.

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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