The trade winds have once again begun to pick up-signaling the start of the monsoon season. Also picking up pace is talk about the Guam Buildup.
Though throttled down because of the fiscal challenges facing the U.S. Government, Department of Defense officials have been busy recently trying to reassure local residents that the III Marine Expeditionary Force will in fact be coming to Guam in the coming years.
This discussion isn't new.
With a Record of Decision expected in the summer of 2014, is the talk more of the military attempting to quell criticism from local officials for DOD's lack of initiative to move the Guam Buildup from a dead stop in 2011? While we can credit the Guam Legislature with some of the wrangling that has more than turned off federal officials planning the move, DOD's silence has been deafening.
Over speculating construction companies have since left the island, with the remaining corporations clinging to the hope of getting a piece of some federal spend in the coming months. In fact, some of the off-island groups are pulling projects away from entrenched local contractors.
Words are not helping this situation. Action is needed. A solution to the policy and financial gridlock needs to be shared with the community and acted upon as swiftly as possible.
Influence peddling related to this important issue to Micronesia has been haphazard over the last two years. Opportunities have been lost. Chalk it up to bad advice from those who claim to be in the "know". What we do know is that we better start adapting to our "new normal" and find ways to pull the economy up from the ground.
I find it curious that leaders are saying today that the Guam economy is stable. Tourism is at an all time high. Federal spend is at the lowest levels in years.
Also, the jobless rate in the Territory isn't faring well. Housing starts are at its lowest in years. Car sales are brisk. Consumer confidence is low. Government spending is upside down-no thanks to federal court actions. Stability? There are other terms to describe the Guam economy. You be the judge of that.
I do believe that there is something positive to be taken from all of this. We must adjust to living in a new Paradise Guam. Families should take time to think about how to care for themselves. Creative options must be sought to streamline our island's core businesses of government spending and tourism. Many should not take this latest dip in our island's economy sitting down. Rather, we must embrace it and look for ways to support our collective livelihoods.
The way forward must be diversification. We can create great prosperity in those industries that are relevant to supporting our regional growth today. It will put more jobs in the hands of our people so outside investors can once again be excited about what the Guam Buildup will bring to our island and the Western Pacific.
These are doable things.
Leaders need to come together to implement lasting policy changes and modernize Guam's laws. Investment into Guam must not just be about dollars and sense, but common sense planning for the future.
The winds of change must be embraced by each and every resident.
A new season is coming. We must be prepared for what the Guam Buildup will bring-both good and bad.