Editor

I’m writing to thank you for your support of the Chamber of Commerce this past year. It’s been an exciting year and I’m proud of the many activities undertaken by the Chamber.

Through the efforts of the Events Committee we have raised over $10 000 toward the Saipan Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund. This past year we were able to award five scholarships in the amount of $2 500 each to very deserving local high school seniors who are now continuing their school in college.

A major fund-raising event is the Corporate Challenge. This year 19 teams participated in this family-fun all-day event competing and putting their skills against fellow business teams. Besides a day of fun winners took home valuable prizes and the Chamber garnered $4 000 for its Scholarship Fund.

Through the efforts of the Events Committee the chamber sponsored several workshops throughout the year on the topics of tax preparation for both businesses and individuals. We also held a very informative workshop about investments.

The Armed Forces Committee has been active in promoting military visits to Saipan an important source of revenue to our business members. Committee members and staff meet each Navy ship that arrives distributing brochures with information about our members that provide military discounts. The chamber has hosted nearly every ship that visited this year. We hear often that Saipan is considered the No. 1 R&R port in the Pacific and the Armed Forces Committee is working hard to maintain that reputation. Although a mundane topic the Committee’s work in solving the problem of ships’ wet garbage helped remove an obstacle to military ships visiting Saipan.

The Armed Forces Committee has also been addressing the economic problems faced by local business through abuse of the AAFES/DECA sales. The committee (and the Chamber of Commerce) vigorously supports these benefits for those truly eligible. However the impact of lost tax revenues as well as lost sales through systematic abuse of the privileges is a topic of grave concern that merits our attention and resolve.

I’m proud that the chamber undertook the poker initiative. Although we failed to obtain enough signatures to put the question on the ballot we raised the issue for discussion and educated the legislators about our residents’ strong feelings on this important issue.

Our Government Relations Committee reviews legislation and makes recommendations to our legislators and the governor. The Membership Committee helps to assure that SCC members receive important benefits.

The chamber has been heavily involved in discussions with both CUC and the government about the problems being faced in this important public service. We anticipate continuing our work on this issue.

This year the Saipan Chamber of Commerce provided much-needed public education through the senatorial and gubernatorial debates. We also sponsored radio ads encouraging people to register and to vote and we are pleased that this year saw the highest voter registration and turnout ever.

A highlight of the year was the Marianas Roundtable Economic Summit. The chamber was a major player in bringing together local and regional business people with a stake in the CNMI. Activity has already begun on some of the summit’s recommendations and you will see more in the months ahead.

The chamber also co-sponsored at the invitation of the governor a one-day health conference that addressed a number of concerns about the health delivery system. This conference was well-attended by both private health care practitioners as well as public officials.

I look forward to working on these important issues with the new board SCC president Charles Cepeda and you. We hope to see you next year supporting the chamber with your membership and your valuable participation.

Sincerely

Alex A. Sablan
President
Saipan Chamber of Commerce

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