By Frank Whitman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Public Affairs
TUMON, Guam (NNS) -- More than 500 people interested in business opportunities in the realignment of U.S. Marines to Guam attended the Guam Industry Forum 2018 at the Dusit Thani Guam Resort, March 7-9.
The forum featured expert speakers and panelists from the U.S. Department of Defense, the government of Japan, the government of Guam, and local civic and professional organizations. It was hosted by the Guam Post of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME).
The Marine realignment - "the buildup" - will entail about $8 billion in combined investments from the Japan and the U.S. Government for the construction of facilities in Guam to support the Marine Corps mission.
The industry forum provided an update on buildup plans and progress, information about doing business in Guam and an opportunity for potential business partners to meet and team up to meet the needs of the military for the buildup.
SAME Guam Post President John Robertson said planning for the forum was thorough and proved successful.
"We've covered every aspect of the buildup," he said. "We learned what the program is about with Guam Program Management Office Director Will Boudra and Officer in Charge of Construction (OICC) Marine Corps Marianas Commanding Officer Capt. Dan Turner," said Robertson. "Then we got into the regulatory aspects so contractors from off island come here with the appropriate expectations. There are special things in Guam they need to know."
Longtime Guam small-business owner Michael Ady said after years of anticipating the Marine relocation, he was encouraged by the information he learned at the forum. "It's really happening, he said. "I see people here that have answers and I hear about actions taken. Jobs are being awarded and there's progress."
Brent Brooks, president of NorthWind Construction Services, a Native Alaskan company that is one of 11 companies under the NorthWind corporate umbrella said his company is looking forward to taking part in the buildup with local companies.
"We're going to open an office here within the next couple of months and start hiring people to fill that office to support this work effort," he said. "We're all about mentoring some of the subcontractors and bringing in that local presence and engaging with them."
Military leaders told conference participants the Department of Defense (DOD) is committed to meeting the timeline for the buildup in compliance with regulations safeguarding workers and local natural and cultural resources.
"I consider it my number one priority to complete the Marine buildup on time," said Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield.
NAVFAC Marianas Commanding Officer Capt. Stephanie Jones reminded participants of the Navy's commitment to the "four pillars" agreed to by the Navy for the buildup - One Guam, Green Guam, Net Negative and 24/7 access to Pagat and Pagat Caves. Particularly the One Guam commitment that the buildup will benefit the island community as a whole.
"This is a small island," Jones said. "We are all integrally tied together and we strive for win-win solutions."
The Green Guam pillar represents the Navy's commitment to safeguarding the island environment.
"We as the DOD place significant energy and investment protecting the environmental assets of Guam," she said. "We will expect that to be done by all of our contracting partners and we will make that clear."
The forum, which was supported by the Guam Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Contractors Association, also included a trade show with 27 exhibitors from a range of construction-related industries and organizations.
For more information visit http://www.guamindustryforum2018.com.