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By Gerardo R. Partido

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, ) – Guam’s contractors are expected to turn out in droves for today’s Guam Industry Forum, hoping to find out more details about the military’s multi-billion dollar construction projects.

Organized by the Joint Guam Program Office and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the forum aims to brief companies on the latest information and actions related to the military buildup on Guam.

Guam contractors have been complaining about the paucity of concrete details on the military’s construction plans.

According to the Guam Contractors Association (GCA), the information flow will have to be improved to allow the local contracting community to plan and make much needed capital investments before 2010.

Without such information, GCA said contractors can not start factoring construction costs and estimate material pricing.

GCA pointed out that Guam does not have an adequate workforce and estimates will have to be made of labor requirements for the military’s construction programs.

In addition, information is needed on the cost of materials since almost all construction materials would have to be brought in off-island.

At present, only ready-mix concrete with imported Portland cement is the only material locally produced.

Moreover, equipment owned by contractors currently on-island is not sufficient to cover the peak demands of the military build-up as currently envisioned.

According to GCA, contractors may need to import additional equipment on their own to meet project requirements.

If enough information can be gathered, GCA noted that there may be adequate business opportunities for equipment leasing companies to set up a large fleet of "common use" construction equipment on Guam for lease to contractors during the term of the military construction program.

Although GCA feels confident that Guam contractors can handle the workload overall, it stressed that there will still be a need for specialist contractors.

With enough time, GCA said the military and the U.S. Small Business Administration can encourage enough small contractors to specialize and fulfill the "specialized" requirements of the military’s construction projects.

The Guam Industry Forum starts today and continues until Friday and will be held at the Sheraton Laguna Resort and the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa.

The forum will include presentations by JGPO, NAVFAC, SBA and government of Guam representatives among others. General subjects to be covered include:

Military buildup overview briefings by JGPO;

Statutory, regulatory, policy and legislative issues;

Master planning, design and construction;

Small business programs and goals;

Program approach and acquisition tools;

Local public and private sector construction plans and projections;

Current and future civilian port operations; and

Doing business on Guam.

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