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Expected to draw 1,350 people from around the world

By Connor Murphy

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 28, 2009) - Today's Guam Industry Forum is expected to give its 1,350 participants more information on the military's plans for the anticipated buildup, and how to get in on the action.

The third annual forum kicks off today with a record number of attendees and features opportunities for business from on and off island to get involved in design, construction and logistics projects related to the buildup.

Within the next five years, 8,000 Marines, as well as their 9,000 dependents, will be moved from Okinawa to Guam. This, along with planned increases in the number of Navy and Air Force personnel, will triple the number of service members on island, according to Pacific Daily News files.

More details on how the historic buildup will be executed, as well as on military objectives and acquisition strategies, will be available at the forum, said Marine Capt. Neil Ruggiero, Joint Guam Program Office public information officer.

This information is crucial as contractors plan for the work needed to make the buildup happen, outgoing Guam Contractors Association board Chairman Louis DeMaria said in a speech to the organization's more than 400 members yesterday.

"There is an enormous amount of work needed to make this buildup come together, so it doesn't completely logjam the island," he said.

DeMaria said that besides relatively scarce details, other challenges the industry faces will be assuring local companies aren't sidestepped in favor of off-shore firms, improving local professional capabilities through improved training and technology, infrastructure strains and avoiding abuses of foreign workers.

"(This buildup) is a very good thing and we want to make sure the people of Guam enjoy more than just the money," DeMaria said. "We want to see them enjoy their quality of life."

Firms from around the world are expected to attend the forum. The list of participants includes representatives from big names in military contracting, such as Bechtel, Lockheed Martin and Agility Services.

Speakers at the forum will include retired Marine Maj. General David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office; acting Secretary of the Navy B.J. Penn; and Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

"We've been very patient, we've been waiting, but the funding will be flowing soon," Bordallo said at the contractors' meeting yesterday. "I think we will be in good shape. I know we will be."

Worker housing

Addressing one of the buildup-related concerns are plans in the works for a temporary worker housing area that will be bigger than most villages.

Developer Younex Enterprises has submitted an application to the Guam Land Use Commission for a 250-acre, 18,000-worker housing compound near the South Finegayan Navy housing area in Dededo.

"A big issue, obviously, is once the buildup is initiated, the plans laid and the contracts awarded, they're going to need people, and places for these people to stay," said David Tydingco, Younex senior vice president.

The compound would be isolated from any residential areas and include a medical clinic, recreation facilities and transportation services, which would lessen its impact on the local community, Tydingco said.

It would be just south of one of the areas being looked at for a possible new Marine base off Route 3.

A public hearing would be held on the project before it is approved, Tydingco said. The company is looking at opening the doors to workers in summer 2010, he added.

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