ASTERLAJE Saipan — The Northern Marianas College’s Small Business Development Center has started linking with various entities to support the needs of the small business community.

The center will work with the Commonwealth Development Authority to assist businesses wanting to borrow money. It will also link with the Workforce Investment Agency to identify private sector needs that the local workforce could fill given the proper training.

Eric L. Plinske SBDC director told the Journal the tie-ups are part of the economic development program that allows the center to:

• Work with the government to support local industries;

• Assist in developing new industries like film software and telecom among others;

• Determine ways to improve the business climate; and

• Participate with committees of business groups like the Saipan Chamber of Commerce as well as government task forces;

Plinske said the SBDC spoke with the CDA about specific client training needs that can help to meet loan requirements.

He said training and seminars cover marketing bookkeeping understanding financial statements personnel management and other areas that are required knowledge as part of the loan application process. “We have done this before with CDA — quarterly workshops for loan applicants ” Plinske said. “We are re-starting that. We are expanding the workshops and improving the program now that CDA is lending money again.”

CDA stopped offering loans in 2003 to concentrate on working with clients having difficulty paying their debts; it re-opened its loan service in June. The range of loans available depends on the type of business that borrowers want to start and their credentials. Banks in the Northern Mariana Islands do not give loans to start-up businesses because of the high risk.

Plinske said the training program also covers those who have existing loans with CDA and are in need of evaluation of their ability to repay loans.

He said SBDC plans a yearlong training schedule with CDA.

Aside from CDA Plinske said the SBDC has also been linking with the Society for Human Resource Managers and the Workforce Investment Agency to come up with workshop topics and survey the private sector’s manpower needs.

The college is organizing a Workforce Development Summit tentatively scheduled for February 2006 as part of efforts to identify job categories that the private sector needs and train the local workforce to meet that demand. MBJ