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“Saipan’s Finest” Earns Top Honors at NMC’s BizConcept Competition (May 5, 2008)

With its proposed bungalow resort equipped with unique glass floors and constructed over shallow ocean waters, “Saipan’s Finest” prevailed in last Friday’s Business Concept Competition at the Northern Marianas College by winning first place. The team, comprised of Kurt Songsong and Perry Yalolmar, will be splitting the first prize award of $1,000.

The judges for competition included Lillian Pangelinan, Administrator for Banking and Insurance at the CNMI Department of Commerce; Greg Calvo, Loan Officer for the Commonwealth Development Authority; and Lee Francia, Loan Officer for the Bank of Saipan.

Second place was awarded to “Nova, LLC,” which presented a proposal that featured a state-of-the-art arcade accompanied by a snack bar and nightclub on the second floor. The team, which won $750, comprised of Charmaine Hofschneider, Quincy Johnson, Chris Matias, and Verena Cabrera.

Team “Marianas Skates” won third place with its business concept of an indoor roller-skating rink with an arcade and private party room. Team members included Tania Ada, Normida Creecy, and Mike Ramon, who were awarded $500.

The fourth place prize of $250 went to “Fill It Up,” whose team members included Russel Camacho, Mike Manansala, and Sandra Arnold. The team proposed a private gas station chain on Saipan to compete with Shell and Mobil, and their source for wholesale fuel would be Petronas Oil & Gas, which is owned by the Malaysian government.

“We’re all very proud of our students and impressed by the range of ideas and delivery of the presentations,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “We hope the competition fuels the students’ entrepreneurial spirit so they can further develop their ideas into fruition and enhance the variety of businesses found in the CNMI.”

The Business Concept Competition was coordinated by NMC Small Business Development Center Director and Business Department Chair, Eric Plinske and business faculty member, Rik Villegas.

The annual competition is designed to achieve four objectives: promote economic development in the CNMI by stimulating viable business ideas; encourage business community mentors to serve as a resource for NMC students pursuing entrepreneurial interests; provide NMC students with hands-on professional experience through which classroom concepts and theories can be applied and tested; and enhance general understanding of the importance of entrepreneurship to the CNMI economy.

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