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BizFest opens today at Suigaula o le Atuvasa

Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele  [SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is joining its local counterparts participating in the three-day 2018 Business Festival, or BizFest, which opens today at Suigaula o le Atuvasa in Utulei and the event is expected to attract many more visitors with the arrival tomorrow of the Emerald Princess cruise ship.

Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele said last week that the BizFest, which is part of the 2018 Flag Day events, focuses on supporting public-private partnership within key industries. It also aims to showcase the various products and services — both existing or on the horizon — offered by local entrepreneurs and businesses.

In a statement yesterday, FEMA announced that its mitigation team and the Hazard Mitigation Office of American Samoa Office of Disaster Assistance will participate in the BizFest. And they will feature at their booth, “how-to materials” on how to build better and stronger.

Informal discussions and printed material in both the Samoan and English languages will feature:

•     How to elevate electrical components so they will be above water if your house floods

•     How to use flood resistant materials

•     A check-list to use with contractors

•     Other helpful tips and information

•     A display on how to tie building components together, from the foundation through the walls to the roof to withstand wind pressure

•     Keychains and other interesting and eye-catching items for adults and children.

According to FEMA, “specialists will answer questions to make this business fair both interesting and informative so people can minimize damage the next time a disaster strikes.”

The FEMA team is on island along with other federal partners such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA), in response to February’s Tropical Storm Gita, which devastated key areas on Tutuila.

Asked for reaction to FEMA’s participation in the BizFest, Lafaele told Samoa News yesterday that “it's a good venue to spread valuable info to the people and businesses.”

Lafaele said last week that the vision behind the BizFest is that “we want to create a platform to support our local businesses and entrepreneurs, but do so with the fun and informal elements of a festival — food, entertainment, and events that highlight the various industries we will focus on this year.”

Highlighted industries will include: Technology & Health Care; Fisheries & Agriculture; and Tourism & Food/Beverage.

“Let’s begin our Flag Day celebration by celebrating the future of our economy, our small businesses and entrepreneurs,” the DOC director said.

The 2018 Flag Day ceremony is set for Apr. 17 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna.

And just in time for the BizFest, is tomorrow’s arrival of the Emerald Princess calling into the Port of Pago Pago around 10a.m. from Hilo, Hawai’i and departing around 7p.m. for Samoa. The cruise will be carrying 3,672 passengers with 1,200 crew members, according to the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.

At the BizFest, cultural activities, handmade craft demonstrations, entertainment and Samoan local recipe delights will be featured and showcased “as a special treat for our one-day visitors,” said ASVB deputy director Vaito’a Hans Langkilde, adding that cruise ship market vendors will be set up at the Fagatogo malae, while other displays including Samoan food will be available at the Fagatogo Marketplace.

The Visitors Bureau reminds all (commercial bus & taxi) tour drivers to dress accordingly: For men please wear a clean “elei” or Polynesian printed shirt and lavalava/slacks, and for women, elei or Polynesian print puletasi or tops when soliciting tour services for visitors off the ship.