For contractors, the US Indo-Pacific strategy means business opportunities
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Guam Industry Forum expected to draw hundreds of participants
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Approximately 300 participants are anticipated to take part in the upcoming Guam Industry Forum that will tackle billions of dollars in contracting opportunities generated by the Department of Defense’s mounting investments in Guam, the CNMI and neighboring islands.
The annual forum, hosted by the Society of American Military Engineers Guam Post, is designed to create pathways to participation in military growth amid Washington’s growing interest in the troubled Indo-Pacific region.
“If they never worked in Guam and the CNMI before, they will learn how to do business here,” said Charles B. Hazzard III, president of SAME Guam Post. “To be able to get things done here, it’s nice to know people. There will be mixers and networking opportunities, so people will get a chance to meet people who have similar businesses.”
The forum provides a venue where “the government and the industry work together” to address the requirements of the military expansion and “produce the best results,” Hazzard said.
“I am blessed to be a part of a long-standing company that knows how to do business here so I have to make sure we are compliant,” said Hazzard, president and CEO of DZSP 21, which holds a $545 million contract with the Navy for base operating support services at the Joint Region Marianas.
DZSP 21 has been the Navy's base operations contractor since 2005, succeeding Raytheon Technical Services. The new contract was awarded in 2020.
“What I've learned is that there are smaller businesses that are not sure how to work with companies like ours, and do not know how to do business with the Department of Defense,” Hazzard said.
The U.S Congress has authorized $11 billion in defense spending for military construction that will pave the way for the relocation of 5,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam, which is scheduled to begin in 2025.
Ayumi Sakaguchi, head of the Guam Relocation Project Office at Japan’s Ministry of Defense, will present a project overview and the status of Japanese funding for the relocation of military assets from Japan to Guam.
The U.S. defense department, with funding contributions from the Japanese government, has poured a total of $2.5 billion into Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz alone.
In the next seven years, the defense department will bring $1.2 to $2 billion a year to Guam, the CNMI and the neighboring island states.
“What’s interesting is that it’s not just the buildup of Marines. There is also the Army and other agencies,” Hazzard said.
The forum will also discuss new opportunities in Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, where the U.S. military is building infrastructures in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy that seeks to ward off threats from China and North Korea.
“There are enemies who are trying to get information. We are aware of that and we will be talking about that for sure,” Hazzard said.
Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, commander of the Joint Region Marianas, will expound on the Navy’s role in the development of military and strategic facilities in the WesternPacific as well as the scope and duration of the program.
Will Boudra, director of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command; Capt. Robert Stiles, commanding officer of Marine Corps Mariana; and Capt. Troy Brown commanding officer ofNAVFAC Marianas, will identify the projects planned for the region.
Hazzard noted that the defense expansion will generate peripheral economic activity to support the military.
“In terms of construction, there will be a need for people working in those structures. There will be civilian jobs for other departments,” Hazzard said. “We do recognize that outside of the fence, there are commercial and government projects in Guam and the CNMI. We need to follow on this, too.”
The post-construction period will abound with maintenance contracts, as well. “Everything has to be maintained forever— not only in Guam but in other locations as well,” Hazzard said “You don’t just build something and leave it alone; it will fall apart.”
The forum will also tackle post-Covid challenges such as supply chain issues and the recurring labor shortage.
Hazzard said the government and the industry have a common goal to build a stable local workforce by addressing the challenge of “getting people interested in the trades and getting kids who studied in the states to come back.”
The forum is anticipated to draw participants from Guam, the CNMI, Japan, the U.S. including Hawaii, and other countries. According to the event's organizers, those who failed to sign up early may still register at the door.
“We know some people will show up at the last minute,” Hazzard said.
He noted that newcomers to Guam will find the island’s unique attributes. “There’s a surprising American feel here with an island flavor,” Hazzard said.
The forum is projected to generate a significant amount of immediate revenue for Guam as a result of hotel accommodations, restaurant and retail traffic, and transportation rentals.
“I cannot give a dollar figure but I would guess it would be equivalent to a plane of passengers from Korea,” Hazzard said.