Which businesses in the Mariana Islands received Restaurant Revitalization Fund money?

See the MBJ List 

According to the Guam branch of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the RRF has funded 79 businesses in Guam for a total amount of $15,202,984 and 12 businesses in the Northern Mariana Islands for a total of $1,891,665.

The American Recovery Plan Act included a $28.6 billion fund to aid restaurants, also known as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, dispensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The average RRF grant size is $283,000 according to the SBA.

As of June 30, more than 278,000 eligible applications representing more than $72.2 billion in requested funds had been submitted for the RRF program. Of those, 101,000 applicants had their funding approved (about 36%). On July 2, the SBA announced closure of the program.

According to the SBA, statistics for the U.S. show:

6% of small business owners reported job openings that they could not fill in the current period. This is above the 48-year historical average of 22%, but down two percentage points from May.

  • A net 39% of small business owners raised compensation (up five percentage points), and 26% of owners plan on raising compensation in the next three months (up four percentage points since May).
  • 63% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, up two percentage points since May.
  • 28% of owners plan on creating new jobs in the next three months.
  • 56% of owners lack qualified applicants for the jobs they were trying to fill; 32% report few qualified applicants while 24% report no qualified candidates.
  • Total employment is about 8 million below the 2020 peak.
  • 44% of owners have openings for skilled workers and 22% have openings for unskilled labor (up five percentage points since May).
  • In the construction industry, 60% of job openings are for skilled workers (up nine percentage points since May) but 60% of construction firms reported few or no qualified applicants (down six percentage points).
  • 26% of small business owners say that labor quality is their top business concern.
  • Labor costs are the top business concern for 8% of owners.

Source: https://assets.nfib.com/nfibcom/2021-June-Jobs-Report.pdf


Marianas have competition for markets, Guam visitors to Hawaii number in thousands

Hawaii has said it will also look to Asia for additional visitors outside of its large U.S. markets and is now making additional moves to do so. From July 15, Hawaii will open its Safe Travels pre-travel testing agreements to South Korea’s Incheon Airport and Philippine Airlines, according to a July 9 release from the Office of the Governor. Visitors can avoid a 10-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 PCR test prior to travel.

Five partner labs are listed in the Philippines, Gov. David Y. Ige’s office said. See: https://www.philippineairlines.com/en/ph/home/covid19/DepartingFromThePH/UnitedStates/Hawaii 

Incheon Airport in South Korea, a hub for a variety of airlines is also added to the list, with a testing center at Terminal 2, the airport’s international terminal. See: www.airport.kr/ap_cnt/en/svc/covid19/medical/medical.do\

In addition to the U.S. mainland and U.S. territories, Japan, Canada, Taiwan and Tahiti are part of the program.

Hawaii hospitality businesses are struggling with the number of visitors they have, according to media reports, as the summer travel season brings additional visitors. Restaurants are dealing with a lack of employees and occupancy restrictions that make for long lines. A lack of car rentals has also been reported.

While summer travel will take Guam’s residents to a variety of destinations, in May Hawaii saw enough visitors flying in from Guam that the Hawaii Tourism Authority commented on the trend in its report of May numbers.

A total of 629,681 visitors arrived by air in the islands of Hawaii in May. Visitor arrivals in May were down 25.7% from the May 2019 count of 847,396, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Visitor arrivals to Hawaii are typically from the U.S. mainland.

There were 15,347 visitors to Hawaii from All Other International Markets.  “Many of these visitors were from Guam and a small number of visitors were from Other Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania” destinations the tourism authority said. May figures included 1,312 visitors from Japan.

In May, a total of 4,064 trans-Pacific flights with 829,917 seats serviced the Hawaiian Islands. That included the U.S. West (703,639 seats), U.S. East (100,014 seats) and Guam (10,406 seats).

There was limited service from Japan (7,870 seats), Korea (2,502 seats), Manila (618 seats) and Canada (132 seats), according to the tourism authority.


U.S. Air Force, Army confirm exercises in Mariana Islands

Releases from Joint Region Marianas and the Pacific Air Force in Hawaii are confirming exercises in Guam. See “The base is the place,” in the July 5 issue of the Journal, also on www.mbjguam.com.

About 6,000 personnel are expected to take part in exercises in the summer months, with U.S. Army personnel in “tent cities.” Two of these are on Andersen Air Force Base, one on Naval Base Guam, and a fourth in Barrigada, according to Journal files.

U.S. Army exercises include Defender Pacific 2021, which began in June and is due to end Aug. 10 and Forager 21. Defender Pacific is the larger of the two, but Forager personnel coming through Guam will be primary users of the tents, according to Journal files. 

A July 13 release from the U.S. Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu (officially titled Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam) confirmed Pacific Iron 2021. The release said, “More than 35 aircraft and approximately 800 airmen from Pacific Air Forces and Air Combat Command will deploy …. in July to participate in Operation Pacific Iron 2021.”

About ten F-15E Strike Eagles from the 389th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; approximately 25 F-22 Raptors from the 525th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and the 199th Fighter Squadron, 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii; and two C-130J Hercules from the 374th Airlift Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan will conduct “combat dispersal operations” in Guam and Tinian, the release said.

In addition, about 400 personnel were due to visit Palau in July for Koa Moana 21, comprised of “U.S. Marines and sailors from I (pronounced “first”) Marine Expeditionary Force … partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard … .” See “U.S. deploying hundreds of military personnel in Palau in the summer,” in the July 5 issue of the Journal, also on www.mbjguam.com.


U.S. Government Accountability Office releases Public Debt outlook for territories

The report said for Guam:

Guam’s total public debt outstanding as a share of GDP decreased slightly from 44% to 42% between fiscal 2017 and 2019. Guam’s total revenue increased 7% during this period and the territory had a surplus of $112.6 million in fiscal 2019. Guam faces fiscal risks such as COVID-19’s negative impact on tourism, Guam’s primary industry, and significant pension liabilities.

For the Northern Mariana Islands:

CNMI’s total public debt outstanding as a share of GDP remained constant at about 8% between fiscal 2017 and 2019. During this period, CNMI’s yearly total revenue fluctuated but was 27% higher in fiscal 2019 compared to fiscal 2017, and the territory had a deficit of $33.3 million in fiscal 2019. Worsening economic conditions and significant pension liabilities may affect CNMI’s future debt repayment capacity. COVID-19 has hurt tourism, CNMI’s primary industry.

See the report at https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-508-highlights.pdf


More federal funds

Expanded Medicaid: Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate to Congress, the Office of the Governor of Guam, and Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan have confirmed in releases that the U.S. territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa will see expanded Medicaid continue after a scheduled expiry date of Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, due to upcoming appropriations in Congress.

Sablan said in a July 11 release the NMI can expect $480 million in federal Medicaid funding in the next eight years, with the NMI’s match to be 17%. San Nicolas said Guam’s match would be the same, so that Guam would need to match 17% of up to a cap of $130 million a year.

SNAP funding: Residents of Guam and the NMI can also expect Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments for children through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer. The benefits are being provided to families with eligible children who would normally receive free or reduced-price school meals if not for virtual and hybrid learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The program – formerly known as Food Stamps – is known as NAP in the NMI.

According to the Guam branch of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the RRF has funded 79 businesses in Guam for a total amount of $15,202,984 and 12 businesses in the Northern Mariana Islands for a total of $1,891,665

The American Recovery Plan Act included a $28.6 billion fund to aid restaurants, also known as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, dispensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The average RRF grant size is $283,000 according to the SBA.


And also:

The U.S. Department of Labor approved the Northern Mariana Islands 2021 Prevailing Wage Study report for the CW-1 visa program.

The new wages apply to CW-1 determinations as of July 1, according to a July 13 release from the Office of the Governor. According to the release, “A total of 820 Standard Occupational Classification Detailed Titles are found in the U.S .economy “with wage values for the CW-1 visa program.” In addition, “470 Detailed Titles were captured by the CNMI 2021 PWS. The U.S. Department of Labor reviewed and approved 373 for use in the 2021 PWS wage data; 97 will use Guam’s wages or the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey adjusted wage data, according to the U.S. DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification.

The 2021 PWS CW-1 Wage Table report can be accessed on the US Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification website at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/foreign-labor/.

The 2021 PWS Report can be accessed on the CNMI Department of Commerce, Central Statistics Division website at https://ver1.cnmicommerce.com/divisions/central-statistics/report-hub/.

The Guam Department of Labor confirmed that to remain eligible for benefits, from Aug. 1, Guam participants must actively perform three work searches a week in order to continue to claim for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Proof of work searches need to be submitted with weekly claims every two weeks. A paper form will be available on dol.guam.gov for claimants to record weekly searches, according to a July 13 release from GDOL.

To fulfil the three-work search requirement, participants can registering for work on hireguam.com, visiting the American Job Center or other employment agency, apply for jobs by submitting a resume or interviewing, inquire about job openings and apply in person, or attend a job fair, or attend an employment workshop that offers instruction on upskilling candidates in order to obtain employment, according to GDOL.

The Northern Mariana Islands will also be introducing a job requirement, according to Journal files.

Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres signed into law House Local Bill 22-12, which becomes Saipan Local Law 22-5 and appropriates $560,000 from revenue collected for the Third Senatorial District, pursuant to Public Law 20-59, according to a July 13 release.

The appropriations include $100,000 to the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance (SHEFA) scholarship program; $50,000 to the Saipan Cares for Animals for the relocation of their facility and operational costs (See “Saipan to open new animal shelter; non-profit helping strays,” in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal); $30,000 for the payment of plans for a new fire station on the north side of Saipan; $15,000 for the Saipan Little League; $15,000 for the Marianas Racing Association; $15,000 for the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture for its operations (See “Discovering the rich culture and history of the Northern Marianas at the NMI Museum,” in the Apr 5 issue of the Journal)

$25,000 for the Haggan Woong United for Recovery (a drug and alcohol prevention and recovery group); $10,000 for the Saipan Fishermen’s Association; $20,000 for the Commonwealth Women’s Association; and $35,000 for Micronesian Legal Services Corp.