Guam - The Council on Native Hawaiian Advancement and the University of Guam welcomed small and large businesses today to the Pacific Business Partnership Initiative at the Outrigger Guam Resort. The organizations held a soft launch with the intent of bringing together small businesses, community based organizations and big businesses who have interests in the Pacific to focus on keeping Pacific dollars in the Pacific.

CNHA Vice President Noelani Kalipi said the initiative aimed to put these businesses' strengths together to exponentially maximize the outcome for the Pacific. "We have five goals which include an annual business summit which includes setting up business standards, qualifications for a large businesses to participate and small businesses to participate, putting site visits and business roundtables together, helping with technical assistance for the small businesses and then putting everybody together and identifying policy priorities so that we as a region can work on those to help what we are trying to get out of economic development in the Pacific," Kalipi said.

Kalipi said ultimately the purpose is to bring everyone together after identifying a gap in the relationship between Hawaii and Guam. Assistant DOI Secretary for the Office of Insular Affairs Tony Babauta said he heard of the initiative at last year's conference and saw the fit for Guam's small business community. He added, "Knowing the experience that Hawaii has gone through and the experience Guam continues to go through with the military buildup, we thought it was a good idea to share the experiences between Hawaii and Guam so that Guam businesses know how to benefit or add to their understanding of how to benefit within a community that has a rising military presence."

Babauta added that by having a partnership with CNHA, it will hopefully prioritize policies related to Guam's business community in the nation's capitol. "One of the benefits is that the CNHA goes to Washington on an annual basis and they have policy initiatives that are generated out of Hawaii and by having this relationship with Guam in the form of this Pacific Business partnership, Guam is able to add its policy priorities within CNHA's policy framework and you have them going up there and it adds to the voices for initiatives we need done," he said.

Today's forum hoped to ultimately put a brighter light on the small business community in the Pacific region and create lasting relationships between the small and large business and non- profit organizations as well.