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Chamber members put the kabash on partnering with DOC job fairs

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Chamber of Commerce will not be partnering with the government-sponsored two-day Island Wide Job & Internship Fairs next month, as some businesses are complaining about ASG’s letter of solicitation for support of the fair sent out to them more than a week ago.

Organizers of the fair have sought partnership with the Chamber. And the Chamber’s Education/Workforce Subcommittee chairperson, Lorena Seu — on behalf of the business organization — early this week responded to Commerce Department (DOC) director, Petti Tagipo Matila, and thanked them for including the private sector in the ASG job fair.

However, Seu informed Matila that the “Chamber is heavily involved with the ‘Protect AS One’ vaccination campaign” (which is an ASG initiative).

“Unfortunately we will not be able to partner with you for the job fair,” Seu wrote to Matila. “At this time, the Chamber will need to remain supportive of the vaccination initiative as it is still ongoing.”

Seu explained that many businesses have donated resources and much time to moving this vaccination campaign forward in support of the local government and Department of Health.

“We want to be mindful of those resources our Chamber members have already given, particularly while many businesses have been greatly impacted by the current pandemic,” Seu points out.

“Although we cannot partner with the job fair at this moment,” the Chamber has sent out — via email — the information provided by DOC and where to register a booth to all Chamber members. The Chamber has also directed business owners to the link provided by DOC for more information.

“We wish you great outcomes from the job fair and look forward to future opportunities to partner with the American Samoa Government,” Seu concluded.

Organizers of the fair are DOC and Human Resources, which early this month posted on its website that the dates of the event are Aug. 19th at the DYWA gym in Tafuna and Aug. 20th DYWA building in Pago Pago.

But as of yesterday morning, the dates have changed to Aug. 18th to the DWYA building in Pago Pago and Aug. 19th at the Malaeimi Stake Center. Times for the event at both locations are 9a.m. to 2p.m.

Letters of Solicitation from DOC to local businesses also provides the new dates of the fair along with two other events: Share a Meal with a Mentor on the evening of August 16 at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium; and Professional Networking also in the evening at the same location.

The letter asked businesses to pay $5,000 to be a diamond sponsor, $3,000 to be a gold sponsor, $1.000 to be a silver sponsor and $500 to be a bronze sponsor.

A few business owners and senior officials have lashed out at ASG for seeking sponsorship from the private sector, which is already faced with many challenges as well as having to “compete” with ASG’s new minimum wage increase of $7.51 per hour.

“The government is taking workers away from the private sector and now they are asking for a huge sponsorship amount?” was the question posed by one company official, who pointed out that ASG should focus on ways to help the private sector, not take “more money from us.”

Other private sector officials questioned the timing of the job-fair, when the businesses are just starting to recover following several months of “restricted business hours operation” last year due to local COVID-19 restrictions.

An ASG official said this week that the offer for sponsorship is “only voluntary.”

One business owner questioned what ASG will be doing with all that sponsorship money to be collected by the “hardworking businesses and their employees.”