NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS SMALL BUSINESS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 76
(Extensions of Remarks - May 08, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E560]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




              NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS SMALL BUSINESS ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                  HON. GREGORIO KILILI CAMACHO SABLAN

                    of the northern mariana islands

                    in the house of representatives

                         Wednesday, May 8, 2019

  Mr. SABLAN. Madam Speaker, today, I introduce the Northern Mariana 
Islands Small Business Act, which would ensure small businesses in my 
district have access to the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Small 
Business Development Center (SBDC) Lead Center grant program, the 
Federal and State Technology (FAST) partnership grant program and the 
Microloan program. The Marianas are the only U.S. jurisdiction not 
included in these programs, which help small businesses access the 
knowledge and capital necessary to succeed and compete for federal 
contracting opportunities.
  Last fall, our islands were struck by two catastrophic natural 
disasters. Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu, the second most 
powerful storm ever in United States history, caused widespread 
destruction of homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure. Under 
presidential disaster declarations, the SBA set up temporary disaster 
recovery centers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to assist small businesses 
to apply for loans and other funds to cover damages resulting from the 
storms.
  We are grateful for the SBA's assistance during these disasters. 
However, all SBA disaster outreach centers in the Marianas are now 
closed and our economy is projected to take years to fully recover. The 
SBA estimates there are over 1,700 small businesses in the Marianas 
which employ over 18,000 people. These businesses and employees do not 
have access to the full range of SBA programs to help them fully 
recover. My bill would correct that by ensuring access on the same 
basis as their counterparts across the nation, many of whom are also 
recovering from natural disasters.
  Under my bill, the Marianas can apply to establish a Lead SBDC, which 
would make available around $600,000 in renewable funding to expand the 
reach and capacity of the existing SBDC service center on Saipan. With 
additional funding, small businesses on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will 
have better access to free or low-cost services such as incubator 
workspaces for entrepreneurs, assistance with loan applications, 
business planning, operations, personnel administration, marketing, 
export assistance, sales and other areas required for small business 
growth and success.
  The bill would benefit aspiring entrepreneurs and small business 
owners in the Marianas who are not able to access conventional loans at 
commercial banks. This legislation would provide them access to the 
SBA's Microloan program which provides loans up to $50,000 typically 
not offered by banks for working capital or the acquisition of 
materials, supplies, or equipment. In addition, the SBA microloan 
program, which is designed to assist women, low-income, veteran, and 
minority entrepreneurs, provides marketing, management, and technical 
assistance to borrowers.
  The Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Act would also help our 
small businesses participate in federal research and development 
opportunities. The bill includes the Marianas in the SBA's FAST 
partnership program which funds outreach and technical assistance to 
small businesses interested in competing for the Small Business 
Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer 
(STTR) programs. The SBIR and STTR programs have funded the development 
of new sources of renewable energy and low-cost technology to reduce 
greenhouse gas emissions.
  I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and help give the 
aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses from the Marianas access to 
the full range of federal resources needed to help our economy recover 
from disaster and make their dreams of small business ownership a 
reality.

                          ____________________