BY MARK RABAGO
Saipan Correspondent

CHALAN KANOA, Saipan — The cost of doing business in the CNMI is the No. 1 concern of businesses, according to the 2022 Marianas Business Pride and Small Business Survey.

In a presentation held during the Friends of Business Summit on Aug. 10 at the Saipan World Resort, 30.8% of the 210 respondents pointed to the cost of doing business in the Northern Mariana Islands as their No. 1 short-term concern.

Joe C. Guerrero and Matthew Deleon Guerrero discuss the business survey.
Photo by Mark Rabago

The No. 2 short-term concern is recruiting or retaining staff at 14.4%, while dealing with income volatility is the third most pressing short-term concern at 11.1%.

In terms of long-term concerns, the cost of doing business in the NMI was also No. 1 as 30.8% of businesses surveyed picked the issue.

Obtaining finance and recruiting or retaining staff are tied as the No. 2 long-term concerns at 16.3%.

The 2022 Marianas Business Pride and Small Business Survey, which was commissioned by the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers, also found that half of those surveyed said that starting a business in the NMI was difficult (51%), while 32% said it was easy.

The survey also said the largest single reason given for challenges in obtaining finance was the limited knowledge of financing options available (34%).

In terms of nationality, 65% are U.S. citizens compared to only 32% being non-U.S. citizens and 3% being green card holders. 

The survey also revealed that 26% of respondents are established, but stressed 25% are start-ups, 21% are established and stable, 15% are profitable and growing, 8% are pre-profit, and 4% are establishing but considering closure.

In terms of longevity, 36% have been operating more than 10 years, 28 % 1-3 years, 20% less than a year, and 16% 4-9 years.

The majority of small businesses in the NMI, according to the survey, had an annual revenue of $50,000 in 2021 (54%), and that the majority did not receive any assistance to start their businesses (58%).

Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Joe C. Guerrero said the 2022 Marianas Business Pride and Small Business Survey is a great tool to help businesses in the Commonwealth conduct their operations moving forward.

“The Chamber along with the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers along with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) will use the information to help guide policies and recommendations on how we can sustain and grow businesses in the CNMI, attract new startups, and help business both short term and long term. Short term in terms of grants and long term through various policies that we can address businesses concerns,” he told the Journal.

He said surveys are important because it allows the chamber to obtain information on what businesses consider their most challenging concerns.

“Of course, no survey is perfect but this one did give us some information. There are other surveys in the future that we’d like to put out that would give us more information again to further policies and information we gather for stakeholders like the Legislature, the Governor’s Office, GCEA, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and anybody that could make use of the survey results,” Guerrero said.

The 2022 Marianas Business Pride and Small Business Survey results are accessible via the www.cnmieconomy.com website.

The 2022 Marianas Business Pride and Small Business Survey was launched on June 28 and closed on Aug. 5 and also included respondents from Tinian and Rota. Joining Guerrero in the presentation was Mathew Deleon Guerrero, who is GCEA Fiscal Economic Diversification Committee chairman. mbj