With the CNMI economy up and humming, the next step is to diversify that economy and one of the options the Torres administration is looking at is developing a tech industry, according to Matthew Deleon Guerrero, Torres’ chief of staff and member of the governor’s Strategic Economic Development Council.
Deleon Guerrero said the need for economic diversification is something that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres envisions and the potential of the tech industry in the CNMI is very attractive.
“Branching out to the tech industry is being carefully given a lot of weight, planning and discussions. There are a lot of opportunities there and we are looking at how public policy can help drive innovation in the economy. The governor hopes to entice alternative industries and mainland companies to set up shop and to build a stronger foothold in the CNMI,” he said.
“One of the governor’s big efforts now is to diversify the economy. Economic diversification is a great key policy element in the current time frame.
“It’s easier to diversify the economy when there is economic activity happening. We do not only want to focus on one or two industries because the reality is there is so much opportunity available,” Deleon Guerrero added.
He said that there are a lot of talks on how best the government can position the CNMI to start and sustain a tech industry.
“Studies on capital, preferential tax rates, geographical location, U.S. intellectual property rights, and protection within the constitution are vital as these factors into being an area in the Pacific that offers potential to the tech industry firms,” he said.
“That way, it does add another economic sector within the community and also provide more opportunities for students where they can see a future that will encourage them to pursue engineering, math, and science fields,” he added.
Aside from studying intrinsic elements that help build the tech industry, extrinsic elements are also being considered.
“To be able to sustain a tech industry on island, we are making sure we have available internet access as tech infrastructure is growing with the fiber optic cables. We are also making improvements on the efficiency of the generating capacity of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to be able to handle an energy intensive industry,” Deleon Guerrero said.
“With economic growth comes other factors that would be [required by] higher skilled [workers] from the United States so we [could] entice them to work here, such as hospital, restaurants, perks, and the lifestyle. Part of the long-term plan of diversifying is promoting sustainability and increased opportunities for individuals and this is what it’s all about,” he added.
Deleon Guerrero said this is an opportune time to talk about diversification.
“It is critical and important to talk about these things and make improvements necessary to sustain the economic growth of the CNMI. We are positioning ourselves to make sure we elevate our level of development and quality of life for the population,” he said.
“The governor is keeping watch on building the workforce to maintain the economic growth and that we have the infrastructure to make sure we get the right policies,” he added.