The University of Guam Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN) and the Guam Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is housed at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration. This center was opened in 1995. From 1999 through 2002 five additional centers were opened, creating the first international SBDC Network. Service Centers are located in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) namely the Yap, Chuuk & Kosrae State, Republic of Palau and Republic of the Marshall Islands(RMI). The local service centers are hosted by the respective state governments through contractual agreements with the PISBDCN. Service center offices are located in professional facilities or educational facilities. Each island has a distinct heritage, culture, belief system, language, national state identity, and legal system. Future expansion sites under consideration in the current strategic plan include Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI).
An extreme challenge for the Pacific Islands SBDC Network is the dispersion of the network. From Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is approximately 632 miles to the south, the Republic of Palau is 821 miles to the west and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is 1,764 miles to the east. The Pacific Islands SBDC Network manages this territory which has a total population of just under 400,000 persons and covers four time zones. In addition, these islands have limited economic opportunities and nascent local governments.
The largest single employer at each island is the local government. The broadest economic sector at each location is tourism. Guam serves as host to nearly 1.4 million visitors per year; approximately one million of those visitors are Japanese tourists. Guam serves as a regional hub for numerous international flights with destinations across the Pacific Rim. Additionally, Guam supports a strong U.S. military presence with both a U.S. Naval and Air Force base situated on the island. The future relocation site for the Marine base from Okinawa, Japan will create an influx of over 8,000 military personnel in Guam. Supplementary economic sectors include construction, trans-shipment services, concrete products, printing and publishing, food processing, and textiles.
The other three governments rely heavily on aide from the U.S. to sustain their economies. In RMI, the economy is boosted by the presence of a U.S. Army installation on the Kwajalein Atoll. Copra production and processing are important elements of the RMI economy. They are also working to establish fishing fleets and sell fishing rights to other nations.
Both the Republic of Palau and the FSM rely on subsistence agriculture and fishing in addition to U.S. aide. The travel industry is beginning to flourish in Palau as it has earned a reputation as one of the top spots in the world for diving. Chuuk in the FSM, is also becoming a popular destination within the diving community. FSM is currently at a greater disadvantage than Palau for tourism development due to its remoteness and lack of infrastructure.
As such, key customer groups for the PISBDCN include tourist-related businesses, value-added businesses (local handicrafts), agri-businesses, and businesses with export potential, minorities, low-to-moderate income households, and youth organizations. Special programs operated by the PISBDCN include two programs directed at youth entrepreneurship: the Shell LiveWire Business Planning Competition, Sanctuary and Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) through which entrepreneurial training is provide to at risk youths. Additionally, the Bank of Guam continues to grant financial support for the Women in Business program that provides counseling and training to female entrepreneurs.
PISBDCN Mission Statement
The University of Guam Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network's (PISBDCN) mission is to support the growth and economic development of the U.S. affiliated pacific islands in the western pacific region by providing high quality training and one-on-one confidential counseling to existing and prospective small businesses.
PISBDCN Vision Statement
The Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN) supports a well established, respected, adequately funded and capable Small Business Development Center network, recognized by the public, the private sector and host entities as the preeminent economic development agency in the region providing high quality business counseling, training and information. The PISBDCN will continue to build strong, effective and functional partnerships while recognizing the cultural diversity of its constituents and will seek to overcome any barriers to their participation in the PISBDCN's programs and activities, including those arising from differences of languages and culture.
PISBDCN values at all levels of the PISBDCN network: