A call to hold a public meeting among business owners and operators on Tinian is in order to talk about the prevailing issues that they are facing, especially after the decision of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to cut 3,000 slots from the CW-1 foreign worker program for fiscal year 2017.
According to Tinian Mayor Joey San Nicolas, they are looking at Jan. 10 to have the meeting at the Tinian Public Library, starting at 6pm. All Tinian businesses are encouraged to attend.
The meeting will focus on how each business has been or will be effected by the reduction of CW visas by 3,000 and the termination of the program in 2019.
“We want to get an assessment of the degree our local businesses plan on downsizing or [possible] closure due the reduction in CW visas,” he said. “This meeting will give us a true assessment about which companies are already struggling with the current cap levels.”
The Tinian economy is composed mostly of small businesses that render necessary services not only on Tinian but also on Saipan and Rota.
“Because Tinian’s local economy is mostly small businesses, the reduction of the CW visa program will have an immediate and devastating effect. We have already been notified by a few businesses that their applications for CW renewals have been denied,” he said.
“JC Café, for example, which has been a landmark establishment on Tinian and the primary restaurant that services both our guests and community alike, has just informed us that 11 of their employees, which includes all of their cooks, have been denied visa renewals because of the 2017 cap,” he added
San Nicolas said that most small businesses are unsure of how they will deal with the reduction and eventual termination of the CW program.
“Many of them are not financially capable of seeking employment through alternative visa programs. We are feeling the impact of the current cap level and anticipate that the 3,000 additional reduction will result in the shutdown of these businesses,” he said.
“This will obviously have an economic impact as, one, we will be collecting less revenue, and two, these small businesses support the tourism activity that flows through Tinian, leading to the further demise of the economy,” he added.
San Nicolas said the position of the Tinian leadership is that the reduction of the CW and the eventual termination of the program will have a devastating effect on the island’s economy.
“Extension is necessary until a long-term solution is found. These local businesses are seeking the assistance of public officials to provide a temporary remedy, if possible, or at least to provide information and guidance as to the future of the program,” he said.