In 2008 the Northern Mariana Islands Governor’s Office received an EDA grant to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to guide the islands to long-term sustainable economic growth. The Northern Marianas CEDS process engaged local stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the normalization of Federal immigration and minimum wage. The CEDS was published in 2009 and as a result of these planning efforts, EDA funded two public works projects to improve water infrastructure for the tourism industry. Conversations are underway for the development of a new CEDS.
The White House and the Office of Insular Affairs at the Department of Interior, through the Interagency Group an Insular Affairs, have embraced the overall CEDS process and its resulting strategies as a valuable tool in facilitating coordinated federal support for the Northern Marianas and the other small U.S. Territories. CEDS provide an economic development framework, process, and strategy that supports private capital investment and job creation statewide. The CEDS process will bring together the public and private sectors in the creation of an economic development roadmap to diversify and strengthen the regional economy.