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  • By Pacific Island Times News Staff

CNMI businesses guaranteed more access to SBA programs

Small businesses in the CNMI will get more access to federal Small Business Administration programs, according to Congressman Gregorio Kilili” Sablan, author of H.R. 6021 which makes the Marianas eligible for funding to establish a Lead Small Business Development Center.

The measure is incorporated into the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law following the U.S. Congress’ override of President Donald Trump’s veto of the defense policy bill.

H.R. 6021 will provide technical assistance to Marianas small businesses interested in seed funding from the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan

“Businesses in the Marianas are going to need all the help they can get to recover from the Covid pandemic,” Sablan said. “Making these SBA programs available in our islands, just as in the rest of the U.S., is certainly one way to do that.”

Two other bills introduced by Sablan have made it to the NDAA such as the expansion of educational opportunities for CNMI students.

H.R. 6786, makes the Marianas eligible for the Defense Department’s STARBASE program with the goal of improving students’ skills in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). STARBASE partners military installations with schools having high proportions of economically and educationally disadvantaged students. Sablan’s bill became Section 592 of the Defense Act.

Sablan also piggybacked his Military Spouse Career Education Act, on the defense bill as Section 622.

“The husbands and wives of military personnel have to uproot themselves whenever the military moves their spouses. My bill will help them get the training they may need to re-license in their profession in a new location or finish their college degrees despite the move,” Sablan said.

Law enforcement in the Marianas will receive the financial and technical resources from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation to implement an AMBER alert system for finding missing children.

Sablan’s bill, H.R. 4614, adds the Marianas and other insular areas to national AMBER alerts, which can mobilize a community via radio, TV, and text messages, when children are missing.

Since its creation in 1996 AMBER Alerts have helped locate almost one thousand children nationwide. The bill also closes gaps in the system by specifying coverage of airports, seaports, and border crossing areas and was included in Section 10001.

The FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act also makes $61 million available for two Air Force divert field projects on Tinian: $39.5 million for the second increment of Airfield Development Phase 1, and $21.5 million for the second increment of the parking apron.

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