The CNMI Small Business Development Center Network (SBDCN) at the Northern Marianas College welcomed Ken Lujan, Small Business Administration (SBA) Guam Branch Manager, on March 28, 2023, who was on-island to conduct a site cursory review in preparation for the CNMI SBDCN’s Annual Site Review in July. On March 29, 2023, the CNMI SBDCN also hosted its inaugural Advisory Council Meeting at the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents Conference Room.
The site cursory review is facilitated on a semi-annual basis to evaluate the program in a customizable manner to assess programmatic areas such as existing procedures, the servicing and management of client profiles, and the budgeting and utilization of SBA funding. During the cursory review, Lujan provided in-person recommendations for CNMI SBDCN to work towards in preparation for the annual site review in July.
During his meeting with the NMC Leadership team, Lujan shared his excitement on the formation of the new SBDCN team and how he was pleased with the progress the SBDC has made since becoming a Network. Additionally, Lujan shared his appreciation with the NMC Leadership for supporting the Network and ensuring its success through their guidance and partnership.
"Every couple of weeks, the SBA meets with the SBDC Regional State Directors for its All Hands Meeting. It's really exciting to hear about all the strides the CNMI is making in promoting entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses through training opportunities and events they host. There is no doubt the CNMI SBDC is making a positive impact in their respective communities,” Lujan said.
The CNMI SBDCN also scheduled meet and greet sessions with some of the program’s community partners such as the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority (CEDA), the Northern Marianas College Leadership Team, First Hawaiian Bank, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, and the Department of Commerce. It is the SBA and the SBDC’s hope that these sessions will foster relationship efforts with resource partners to encourage partnerships and collaboration.
On Wednesday, March 29th, the CNMI SBDCN hosted its Inaugural Advisory Council Meeting. The purpose of the advisory council is to solicit feedback from its ten-member council whose prominent presence in their respective businesses and community organizations will assist the SBDC Network to best serve the community’s needs and the needs of its CNMI SBDCN clients.
The following CNMI SBDCN Advisory Council Members are:
Members Representing the Municipality of Saipan
- Dr. Barbara Hunter (Interim Director, Northern Marianas College School of Business)
- Cecilia T. Fitial (President, Commonwealth Women’s Association)
- Dave Guerrero (Economic Development Manager, CEDA)
- Joe C. Guerrero (President, Saipan Chamber of Commerce)
- John Z. Arroyo (President and CEO, Bank of Saipan)
- Kioshi K. Cody (Acting Director of Economic Development, Department of Commerce)
Members Representing the Municipality of Tinian
- Allen Perez (Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor of Tinian)
- Phillip Mendiola-Long (President, Tinian Chamber of Commerce)
Members Representing the Municipality of Rota
- Steven McCoy (President, Rota Chamber of Commerce)
- Jacqueline Manglona (Operations Manager, Kin & Rit Enterprises)
The meeting consisted of Ken Lujan (SBA Guam Branch Manager) & CNMI SBDC Network Director, Nadine C. Deleon Guerrero discussing the purpose of the advisory council, Q&As with the council members, the setting of expectations of the council, and scheduling the next advisory council meeting.
During the meeting, CNMI SBDC Associate Network Director, Mercilynn K. Palec, took the opportunity to formally introduce the CNMI SBDCN Team:
- Benjamin “Huk” Borja (Tinian SBDC Director/Business Advisor)
- Diana Benavente Hocog (Rota SBDC Acting Director/Business Advisor)
- Charmaine R. Hofschneider (Administrative Office Manager)
- Adelpha Lynn K. Magofna (Administrative Office Manager)
- Roman M. Tudela (Marketing Manager/Outreach Specialist)
Council members exchanged feedback overviewing how they see themselves working together alongside the CNMI SBDCN and the SBA for the betterment of the CNMI’s business community.
Disclaimer: The CNMI Small Business Development Center Network (CNMI SBDCN) comprises the CNMI SBDC lead center located in Saipan, the Rota SBDC, and Tinian SBDC. CNMI SBDCN is partially funded by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Northern Marianas College. All opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Requests for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Language assistance services are available for limited English proficient individuals with at least two weeks advance notice. For arrangements, please contact your local SBDC at P.O.Box 501250 Saipan, MP 96950, Tel: (670) 237-6888, or email charmaine.hofschneider@