Guam’s construction and contracting community has much to be proud of.
Regarded as an economic indicator companies who have stayed here since the 90s – through the lean years – have seen revenues shrink and middle management and skilled labor leave for higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
It is hard work to keep employees when there is little work and even less of it guaranteed.
Still we do have a cadre of companies that consistently kept faith with the island. They looked at different areas of construction and supply as a means of broadening possibilities of securing projects and threw their net wide around the region or simply hung on.
Now we are asking those companies to have faith of a different sort.
All we really now about the military buildup is that it is coming and we have a timeline that has already changed once.
There are many uncertainties facing the construction industry – not the least is how much work will be set-aside for local companies; and what rules will govern the labor market.
Many international and U.S.-mainland companies have come knocking on the doors of our community asking for information (and understandably for local partners).
Our companies do not have it to give them.
Our construction community is being asked to prepare a needs assessment and act on it based on very little information.
It is true that the construction community as a whole faces the prospect of some large military work in fiscal 2008 while it waits and that it can expect a larger amount of military work in fiscal 2009.
But that work palls against what is coming. About $15 billion in construction work has been estimated.
It is fine and encouraging that the construction community and indeed the wider community comes together at forums and conferences and unites.
But right now what the community needs is some clear indications so it can do some prior proper planning.
When the Pacific Command stood before the community in September 2006 with its PowerPoint presentation things seemed a lot more decisive.
Maybe the construction community needs to go looking for its own answers. That means more trips to Washington D.C. and less time at conferences and forums.