“Our economic growth is measured in beach barbecues, family gatherings, and birthday parties. We grow the economy, not just for public services, but for our ability to help one another when we need it most.”
– Governor Ralph DLG. Torres
The overall goal of the Torres-Palacios administration has always been to improve the overall standard of living for every resident and family in the Commonwealth. In order to get there, Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios recognize that the CNMI needs a strong economy that is diversified beyond tourism and built to last.
The management of our economy is undoubtedly the most important priority of our Commonwealth, and it requires a comprehensive community approach from our homes and villages to our private sector and federal partners.
Under Governor Torres, the CNMI economy has been able to achieve three straight years of consistent and stable economic growth. The height of that growth took place from 2016 to 2017, making the CNMI the fastest growing economy in the United States.
Over the last few years, the average hourly wage has grown from just $8 an hour to nearly $12.50 an hour, the government deficit has been reduced by nearly 50%, and over 3,000 new businesses have opened up shop.
Despite recent economic success, the CNMI has experienced some of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, from Typhoon Soudelor in 2015 to Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. These typhoons devastated the Commonwealth’s economy, causing the loss of millions of dollars in potential economic revenue due to the reduction of local business activity and visitor spending.
In 2020, the CNMI economy and the overall global economy have been severely impacted by Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, as flights from major visitor markets completely shut down in order to ensure the health and safety of residents.
The Torres-Palacios administration has not given up on working to bring the economy back up to growth levels before Super Typhoon Yutu. Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios intend to continue working with corporate leaders, investors, small business owners, nonprofit organizations, and community interest groups to create policies and propose industries for positive and sustainable economic development.
Through the CNMI Department of Commerce and the CNMI Office of Planning and Development and partnerships with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and the newly-formed Governor’s Economic Development Council, Governor Torres is leading discussions on market diversification, improving infrastructure in and around Garapan— the heart of our tourism industry, and developing an educated workforce that meet the needs of the CNMI’s economy for the future. This strategy is intended to build economic resilience for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, especially after two major crises in Super Typhoon Yutu and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Moving forward, the CNMI’s economic and infrastructure strategy will be guided by the 2019 update to the CNMI Economic Development Strategy.
The foundations of this effort are built on our goal to map a path forward in development that supports the needs of our residents – their health, their well-being, their standard of living and their ability to receive their fair share of our prosperity.
Under Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios, the CNMI will craft an agenda with all considerations on the table – tax reform, workforce incentives, prudent zoning practices and small business development – to encourage a domestic economy sheltered from the external influences of a competitive world. We will establish trade within the Micronesia region, building upon existing friendships throughout the Pacific.
The CNMI looks to deliver to the next generation a diverse and vibrant economy, with new industries in agriculture, technology, and high-end tourism. We will prepare our children and prepare our homeland for the needs of the future, as long as we can work together.
The administration understands that economic viability in the CNMI is an ongoing struggle with limitations of an island economy and the externalities of the world around the Marianas. However, Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios remain optimistic that diversifying our economy, improving our infrastructure, and recreating historic policy approaches will lead to accomplishing the goal of improving the lives of everyone who calls the Marianas home.
For more information, check out the following links:
CNMI Office of Planning and Development
CNMI Department of Commerce
CNMI Department of Labor
CNMI Department of Finance
2019 CNMI Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
Saipan Chamber of Commerce