GUAM EXPERTS UPBEAT, FORECAST ECONOMIC GAINS

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Military build-up, tourism, investors and infrastructure point to
growth

By Therese Hart HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 6, 2011) –Even with the anticipated military buildup, it is important for Guam to attract foreign investors who want to invest in the island outside of the buildup, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s economic advisor Henry Taitano said yesterday during Calvo’s press conference on his recent economic trade mission to Japan.

Taitano said Japanese private companies are interested in investing in Guam and there are many diverse industries the island can potentially tap into to form a partnership with local businesses and government entities such as the University of Guam.

UOG currently has many programs that can potentially grow to become sustainable industries for Guam, including the UOG shrimp farm and the studies being done at the university’s Marine Lab.

For his part, the governor’s chief of staff, Frank Arriola, said the military buildup seemed to be on many Japanese officials’ minds and they are committed to seeing it through.

Arriola said Japan acknowledged the millions of dollars it has already invested in Guam for the buildup, with $89 million identified in Mamizu projects, and $1 billion in investments in infrastructure projects. These are expected to result in tremendous job growth and a decrease in the 13 percent unemployment rate, which the governor said "is unacceptable."

Guam International Airport Authority Executive Manager Mary Torres also said the airport is posturing for growth, since it has seen rapid expansion through the years since 1995. And with the 12,000-foot extension of the runway, more flight opportunities will be realized.

Torres said indicators also show tourism is rebounding and steady progress is happening. In addition, airport properties are prime investment opportunities since companies want to lease airport space.

Calvo said the need to build a convention center is necessary since the facility can be used for many foreign and local events. The governor’s next economic trade mission will focus on China.

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