PROVIDING the impetus for the launch of the $13.1 million State Small Business Credit Initiative, or SSBCI, in the CNMI, U.S. Treasury’s outreach manager David Rixter and Michigan Economic Development Corp. vice president for capital services Paul Brown met with local lenders and bank executives yesterday at the Commonwealth Development Authority office to discuss the prospects for the federal loan program.
Rixter encouraged the lending community to look at the program and see its potential. “Look at SSBCI. It is an easy program. It makes sense. It is complementary to SBA programs. It’s simple.”
He said, “Take a look at us. we are a great program. There is money here that needs to be expended. It is a great opportunity.”
Rixter said they have met their objectives as they managed to gather the lenders and bank representatives.
Yesterday, Rixter and Brown, along with Commerce Deputy Secretary Ivan Blanco and CDA officials met with bank and lending firm representatives from Bank of Hawaii, Bank of Saipan, Bank of the FSM, CitiTrust Bank, and Bridge Capital LLC.
Rixter said they have accomplished what they intended to do on Saipan — “to gather the lending community here in the CNMI.”
“The fact that we have eight lending representatives here shows us that there is a need for small business lending and small business growth,” he said.
Because the CNMI, Guam and American Samoa are isolated from the contiguous U.S., Rixter said, it was important for them to come over to promote the SSBCI.
The federal program has allocated $13.1 million to the CNMI and anticipates making available $130 million in private financing in the CNMI in the next five years.
The CNMI, through the Department of Commerce, received its first allocation of $4.35 million last year.
“I believe that we have a responsibility to the community in the Pacific to spur your economic growth and help facilitate job growth and job retention,” said Rixter.
The program which was made possible by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 has so far released $305 million in SSBCI funds across the nation according to Rixter.
“Right now, the CNMI hasn’t deployed any funds,” said Rixter.
He said this was the reason he and Brown were on Saipan so they can get things moving.
He said, “It is a combination of the banks, borrowers, and federal funds all coming together so we can actually extend the credit.”
Brown and Rixter fielded questions from the bank and lending firm representatives regarding the implementation of both the loan purchase participation and collateral support programs.
Both Brown and Rixter also went to the governor’s office yesterday and met with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider.
The governor’s office, in a statement, said, “Their visit was an attestation of the U.S. Treasury’s support for the CNMI State Small Business Credit Initiative.”
For more information on the SSBCI program in the CNMI, contact CDA at 234-6245 or Commerce at 664-3000.