GUAM MILITARY BUILDUP HOLDS BRIGHT PROSPECTS

Editorial

Marianas Business Journal HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Jun 6, 2010) - We have pointed out what we believe will the positive effects of the military buildup. Employment is one - the front page of this issue of the Journal contains a story about yet another program of the GCA Trades Academy designed to ensure that local workers who want to work in the construction trades are able to do so. Capt. Peter S. Lynch, the commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas has said that his command has 500 employees, is authorized to have 700 (he is hiring) and will grow by 100 employees in fiscal 2011 and again in fiscal 2012.

That is not to mention the myriad of other employment opportunities that will arise, including employees and entrepreneurs who will profit from meeting the daily needs of the increased number of service members and their dependents, contractors and their families, and other gainfully employed employees and entrepreneurs.

Another obvious benefit will be increased tax and government-fee revenue. It has been said that our government has been spending yet-to-be-realized, buildup-generated revenue for years as evidenced by the government’s phenomenal debt burden. There are also needs of the government that are just not being adequately addressed - schools, the hospital, public health facilities. A significant portion of the new money coming into the island’s economy has to find its way into government coffers and hopefully then to the places it is needed.

There is increasing reason to believe that the island’s infrastructure issues will be adequately addressed. The FY 2011 Defense Authorization Bill recently passed by the House of Representatives contains promising provisions regarding the water and wastewater systems, and a requirement that civilian infrastructure issues be identified by the Secretary of the Interior along with sources of funding to address them.

Legitimate concerns and uncertainties about the eventual shape of the buildup, have been voiced and we are encouraged that - in good part due to community vigilance - they are being addressed. With that in mind, we might remember that our island has brighter economic prospects than virtually anyplace else in the Pacific - something we were reminded of by a participant in recent trade mission to Guam from New Zealand. While the military buildup may be the catalyst, investors with businesses of all sorts will find attractive a location with recently improved infrastructure, above-average government services and sizable, well-paid working and middle classes.

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