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The CNMI Small Business Development Center Network delivers professional, high quality, individualized business advising and technical assistance to existing small businesses and pre-venture entrepreneurs.

CNMI SBDC Network sees Successful Turnout after Hosting 2024 Friends of Business Summit: CyberTech Edition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, April 8, 2024

CNMI SBDC Network sees Successful Turnout after Hosting 2024 Friends of Business Summit: CyberTech Edition 

SAIPAN, CNMI — The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network in collaboration with the Northern Marianas College’s Office of Information Technology, hosted its second annual Friends of Business Summit last Thursday, April 4, 2024 at the Crowne Plaza, Saipan. The one-day summit gathered over 200 participants in both private and public sectors from across the Marianas, to explore the latest technological advances with the aim to propel leaders in business, education and our central government into the digital age. 

In her opening remarks, CNMI SBDC Network Director Nadine C. Deleon Guerrero stated, “It’s truly an honor to have you all gathered here today as we embark on a journey into the dynamic world of cybersecurity and technology innovation. The CNMI SBDC is pleased to be at the forefront of this movement. This summit serves as a pivotal platform for sharing insights, fostering collaboration, and exploring the latest advancements in cyber technology. As we delve into discussions, workshops, and presentations, let’s harness our collective expertise to address the challenges and opportunities in this ever-evolving landscape.” 

Keynote Speakers Highlight General Sessions
Kicking off the event in the morning General Session was a presentation highlighting the need to shore up cybersecurity defense titled “Cybersecurity Defense: Mitigating Risks on the Offense”. Presented by owner of KRS Cyberworx, Herman M. Kintol, a local cybersecurity expert, Kintol underscored the need for the CNMI to improve its cybersecurity posture as heightened threats of attacks become more prevalent in the Marianas, signaling the urgent need for better cybersecurity. In this session, participants learned practical and affordable steps to enhance cybersecurity based on recommendations from leading security organizations.

Dr. Annette Pladevega Sablan, Project Director for the CNMI Statewide Longitudinal Data System of the CNMI Public School System shares her experience, “The summit was a breath of fresh air and the opportunity to learn and network within a community of like-minded tech professionals was truly invigorating. Not only did the summit reinforce the importance of PSS’ cybersecurity awareness trainings in reshaping our organizational culture, but it also challenged our team to think more deeply about using technology as catalysts for innovation, rather than viewing them as merely a means to an end.”

First Hawaiian Bank’s Vickie Izuka, Vice-President and Area Manager introduced their segment “Guardians of Trust: Tackling Fraud and Cybercrime in Financial Services” and was presented by Honolulu, Hawaii’s Joely A. A. Chung, Esq., CAMS, CAFP, Vice President & Division Manager, Operational Risk Division and Jake Harris, AVP & Sales Department Manager. This concise yet insightful presentation focused on navigating the complex cyber landscape impacting businesses today, and how to identify and defend against cyber threats, including those employing social engineering tactics, with simple preventative measures.

To connect the CNMI small business community with its newly established CNMI Office of Broadband Policy and Development, initiated by Governor Arnold I. Palacios through Directive 2023-003, the SBDC highlighted OBPD’s De Faustina Camacho and Krissa Deleon Guerrero. Camacho and Deleon Guerrero shared the office’s comprehensive broadband strategy to promote advanced network services, boost digital literacy, and ensure access and affordability for residents. 

Closing off the afternoon General Session portion of the event, Northern Marianas College’s Community Development Institute (CDI) headed by Director Monique Boyer Sablan, shared TestOut, a program introduced in the CNMI to enhance digital literacy among students. Covering topics such as computer fundamentals, internet safety, coding basics, and digital communication, TestOut provides interactive experiences to equip students with skills for navigating the digital landscape. TestOut also supports instructors with teaching aids, auto grading, and analytics for efficient assessment and personalized feedback. Alongside Director Sablan, was Geraldine B. Sasamoto, Program Manager III. 

Training Opportunities

Following the morning and afternoon general sessions of the Summit, were multiple breakout sessions for attendees to participate in training opportunities. 

Breakout Session A was presented by Joshua Cook, Owner of Pacific Pact in a presentation titled “Innovate or Die. Utilizing Information Technology to Improve Modern Day Workflow Strategies”. Cook’s presentation covered the complexities of dealing with technological (software) changes in the workplace and the operations of a business. Some topics of discussion were Good vs. Great Project Management, implementation strategies, how to best prepare the team for these changes, understanding organizational structure within an operation, and supporting these upcoming changes.

Breakout Session B, presented by the folks of Xerox Corporation’s regional office in Honolulu, Hawaii and Las Vegas, Nevada, discussed “Encrypting Documents & Security Solutions-based Technology”. Tiffany Rabacal-Harper, Office Solutions Specialist – Hawaii, Guam & Saipan and Josh Widenmann, Xerox IT Services, Las Vegas, Nevada, California, Hawaii, Guam & Saipan took attendees through an experience with Xerox like never before where idea-sharing and best practices leveraging Xerox’s portfolio of hardware, software, services, and connectivity that can benefit the future of workplaces were covered.

Breakout Session C, presented by CEO of TrueBeep, Nathan Benson, covered “Leveraging AI to Grow ROI” a deep dive into the utilization of Artificial Intelligence in a business to increase efficiency and productivity. Benson presented on actionable ways businesses can use AI to grow their business, and how they can ready themselves for the next big technology wave that will transform the world.

Breakout Session D, the fourth and final breakout session, was presented by AP Solutions’ Perry Inos, Jr., Clayton Izuka, Jesse Deleon Guerrero and virtual guests Paul Cheng, Francis Felix, Jubal Mabaquiao and Brixton Gripon. In a session titled “Revolutionizing Business Dynamics: Integrating Comprehensive Technologies and Sustainable Practices into Business Strategy” AP Solutions presented on synergizing the integration of cutting-edge technology, sustainable practices, media content, and innovative marketing into business strategies.  Participants explored how these elements could be woven to drive innovation, enhance security and foster sustainable growth.

Trade Show

And finally, the CyberTech Edition Summit Trade Show from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, gathered all participants and members of the public for a dynamic networking opportunity. 

Broc Calvo, Managing Partner of Turnkey Solutions, shares his experience as a featured exhibitor at the Summit’s trade show, “As a young private small business in our niche industry, we understand the significance of participating in events like these. Although Turnkey Solutions is extremely active in the community, we don’t always get the opportunity to connect with our customers face-to-face. The trade show allowed for invaluable engagement with fellow business owners and clients. It was truly an honor to be among veteran companies that have paved the way for businesses like ours. We eagerly anticipate future networking opportunities and are excited about the prospect of collaborating with the SBDC.”

Other featured exhibitors at the Trade Show from the private business sector were Angil Designs, AP Solutions, Docomo Pacific, Island Training Solutions, Marianas Variety, StemifyCNMI, Saipan Computer Services, Super Tech/White Coconut, TurnKey Solutions, TrueBeep, and Xerox Corporation. From the Banking, Financing & Merchant Services Vendors were Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, and Nonstop Corporation, and from the Government & Non-profit Stakeholders were CNMI Broadband Policy & Development Program, CNMI Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Agency, Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs, Northern Marianas Technical Institute, and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce. 

Additionally, the trade show offered an interactive raffle drawing and live entertainment provided by Marianas Got Talent. 

Kimberly Camacho, Executive Director of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, shares her sentiments of the Summit, “We extend a warm thank you to the CNMI SBDC team for the invitation to this event. This has helped the Saipan Chamber of Commerce connect with the local community and bolster the business network. At the event, we had the opportunity to showcase our wide range of programs and services, aiming to facilitate growth and prosperity for our future members. We eagerly anticipate future networking events that foster collaboration between the SBDC and the Chamber, as we jointly strive to empower and support small businesses in our region.”

The CNMI SBDC Network and the Northern Marianas College Information Technology Department extend their sincerest appreciation and gratitude to all of the event’s participants, speakers and presenters, exhibitors, sponsors, and supporters, and look forward to seeing you all at the next CNMI SBDC event.

To become a client of SBDC please register at marianas.eccenterdirect.com, call (670) 237-6888, or email cnmisbdc@marianas.edu. To stay updated with your local SBDC, visit our website at www.cnmisbdc.com, @cnmisbdc on Instagram or follow us on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/cnmisbdc


The CNMI SBDC Network promotes a business-friendly economic infrastructure in the community, builds entrepreneurial capacity and financial literacy within that community, and provides current and nascent small businesses with the technical assistance, counseling, training, and support they need to innovate, adapt, and grow. 

The CNMI Small Business Development Center Network (CNMI SBDC) Network comprises the CNMI SBDC lead center located in Saipan, the Rota SBDC, and Tinian SBDC. CNMI SBDC Network 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 adelpha.magofna@marianas.edu. Services are extended to the public on a non-disciplinary basis.

Please click here for photos from the Summit.

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