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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 12) – A team of U.S. and Japanese military contractors is arriving this weekend to explore opportunities in view of the goal of developing Saipan and Tinian as warehousing and transportation hub.

The team, led by John E. Baggott of Bechtel National and four representatives from large Japanese construction and engineering companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, will be visiting Saipan and Tinian on June 16.

Baggot is Space and Missile Defense manager at Bechtel National.

Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Juan T. Guerrero said yesterday that Chamber board officials will meet with the group on Saturday morning. The group will then proceed to Tinian for meetings with local government officials and business representatives.

Guerrero said Baggot's group will be visiting closed garment factories and barracks for possible warehousing use for the military.

"The group will be coming this Saturday. They are here to assess infrastructure, look at garment factories. Their focus is using Saipan and Tinian as a logistics warehousing and transportation hub," said Guerrero.

He said the group will also look at any industrial sites, port facility, and potential laydown yards.

Guerrero said Baggott's team includes 10 people, consisting mainly of Japanese contractors.

The visit is being done in preparation for the US$10 billion military buildup in Guam and the relocation of some 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The military relocation is funded by the U.S. and Japanese governments, with Japan sharing a larger portion of the amount.

The Saipan business group has been pushing for specific development projects from the military. Guerrero had urged the Fitial administration to negotiate with the U.S. military for these projects.

"We're hoping that this time, the Commonwealth will benefit more than just the spillover. We need to have concrete projects here," Guerrero said.

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