Chinese investors keen on NMI
GARAPAN Saipan – Investors from mainland China have started holding talks with local real estate agents to see how they could lease lands on Capitol Hill according to Luo Xiaodong director of the non-profit Chinese Economic Development Association.

" They are still negotiating with real estate agents here. They are trying to find out the details. They want to invest in Capitol Hill real estate " Xiaodong told the Journal during the Oct. 1 celebration of China Day held at the Fiesta Resort & Spa. The event hosted by the association to mark the 58th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1 1949 was attended by approximately 300 people including local officials and Chinese-American business leaders.

Xiaodong however would not divulge details. "They have just started negotiating. Everything is confidential. I can’t talk about it " he said.

In his speech during the event Xiaodong said PROC is "trying to explore new fields of economic cooperation" with NMI and Guam.

" We also expect some Chinese companies to invest in real estate projects " he said.

Meanwhile Xiaodong said he will be meeting with officials of the Northern Marianas College to explore the possibility of sending Chinese students to study at the college.

The Chinese Economic Development Association was formed in 1997 under an agreement between the Ministry of Trade and Economic Cooperation of the People’s Republic of China and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Marianas Harley owners make big impression in Palau
KOROR Palau – There’s no other way to say it – Harley-Davidson rules in Palau. Koror streets rumbled with the distinctive sound of Harley motorcycles during the Rock the Island Tour II which was held Sept. 26 to Oct. 4. The event which was led by Diana Neilsen president of Guam Harley-Davidson; and Arthur W. "Bill" Neilsen general manager of Guam Harley-Davidson; along with 50 riders brought awe and delight to nearly everyone who asked for the experience of a ride on the famous bike.

Students of Palau High School and Palau Community College turned out in large numbers for the event and the opportunity to experience a Harley ride from the schools to the Culture Center and back again. Motorists on the main road stopped to watch the students and their hosts.

During the Capitol Dedication in October 2006 the club visited schools the hospital and community groups.

In addition to being the official escorts for the presidential motorcade on Independence Day on Oct. 1 the Harley Group also visited the pediatrics unit at Belau National Hospital held a fishing derby and were hosted to dinner by President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. The president has a personal relationship with the Harley club as he got his bike from the Nielsens while on Guam three years ago and invited the club to Palau.

During its visits the club stressed the importance to youth of being drug free and the importance of education work ethics and family values and warned against alcohol and substance abuse.

Club members volunteered their time and personally paid all expenses including nearly $500 for shipping their bikes to and from Guam.

Guam Harley-Davison was founded in 1993 by the Neilsens.

Muna

NMI gov’t proposes spending cuts no tax increases
SUSUPE Saipan – Despite an $8.97 million decrease in projected available expenditure funds for fiscal 2008 the local government will not impose new taxes or increase existing ones to raise revenue according to Antonio S. Muna the governor’s special assistant for management and budget.

Instead Muna said the administration has lined up cost-cutting measures aimed at curbing public sector spending. These he said include a reduction in funding for 397 positions; a reduction in overtime expenses; unpaid holidays; a 50% reduction in housing allowances for government consultants; and limiting vacant positions to 267.

The administration is also proposing to reduce funding for the legislature Muna said.

" Any time revenue policies are considered it must be sensitive to making sure if there is going to be additional burden to the community " Muna told the Journal.

Muna who was resource speaker at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s meeting on Oct. 3 at Saipan World Resort said imposing new or higher taxes in an economic situation "where we are struggling to go up sometimes has a way of continuing the downward spiral."

Any revenue policy under consideration must avoid placing any additional burden on tax payers he said otherwise businesses would be discouraged from doing business in NMI or might consider moving elsewhere.

" So you increase your taxes but on the other side you have less people paying taxes. With less people paying you may end up with less money than was anticipated when you pursued the tax increase."

In his presentation before the chamber Muna said the local government has proposed a $161.58 million budget for fiscal 2008 which is $8.97 million short of the $170.55 million available in fiscal 2007.

The administration submitted its proposed fiscal 2008 budget to the House of Representatives on Sept. 20.

Darkow

Anderson multi-milion waste and recycling contract awarded
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE Guam – Chenega Operations Services LLC was awarded a contract for residential and industrial waste collection and recycling for Andersen Air Force Base on Sept. 29. The one-year contract valued at over $1 million includes four yearly options for a total value between $5 million and $6 million over the entire contract according to Adrian Darkow special projects director for Chenega Operations Services.

The Alaska-based organization is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chenega Corp. which was established as a Village Corporation under the Alaska Native Claims program in 1974. Although principals of the corporation have been very active in the Pacific for many years having done work in Wake Midway and Kwajalein Darkow said this is the first contract Chenega has been awarded on Guam.

" We’ve hired all incumbents and kept the same crew of the previous contractor [Red River Service Corp.] " he said.

In addition Chenega inherited more than 600 pounds of crushed aluminum cans from the previous contractor when it took over the project. The proceeds from the recyclables were donated to St. John’s School he said.

Although he will only be on Guam through October for the initial ramp up Darkow said he will be returning to oversee the project periodically.

As a minority-owned small business he said Chenega focuses primarily on projects with the federal government. However with its broad range of capabilities in areas like base operations information technology and telecommunication services in addition to waste management it would certainly consider other commercial projects.

Real Estate Conference offered wide range of topics and networking opportunities
About 300 attendees from the U.S. mainland and the region gathered at LeoPalace on Sept. 28 and 29 for the 4th Micronesia Real Estate Investment Conference presented by the Captain Real Estate Group of Companies.

The two-day conference featured speakers on a range of topics from finance and infrastructure to affordable housing.

While generally optimistic about the unprecedented growth expected on Guam over the next decade comments also touched on the importance of addressing the social and environmental impacts that may arise with the increased military population.

Investment opportunities throughout the region were also discussed. Although land prices are often attractive in Micronesia land title issues can require some creative solutions and flexible lease arrangements.

Perhaps most valuable for participants was the opportunity to network between local and off-island businesses.

While high-end housing projects were discussed such as the presentation on the Talo Verde development by Neil Kritzinger owner of Kritzingert-Rao; the issue of affordable housing was also raised.

Lourdes A. "Lou" Leon Guerrero president and board chair at Bank of Guam said that housing opportunities must be affordable for locals so that Guam doesn’t end up with "two classes of communities".

Infrastructure was also a hot topic. Eduardo A. "Champ" Calvo partner at Calvo & Clark LLP; said "We missed the opportunity with the last boom – let’s hope it gets addressed this time."

Fiduciary association names student winners
HAGåTÑA Guam – The Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies announced the winners of the 2007 Pacific Region Investment Conference Student Contest in an Oct. 10 press release. The students will present their winning papers at the conference on Oct. 18 and 19 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manila.

One student each from the University of Guam Guam Community College the Northern Marianas College Palau Community College the College of Micronesia – FSM the College of the Marshall Islands and University of the South Pacific were named winners. The 2007 topics for the student competition were Student Experience in Stock Market Investment Management of Trust Funds and Regional Economic issues.

The winning students are Alan Chu from the University of Guam Mayette Concepcion from Guam Community College Joseph P. Villacrusis from the Northern Marianas College in Saipan; Heston Aluka Kebou from Palau Community College in Koror; Rendy Johnny from the College of the Marshall Islands in Majuro; Maludrik Maludrik from the University of the South Pacific in Majuro; and Eileen Joel from the College of Micronesia-FSM in Pohnpei.

APAFS is providing stipends and accommodations while Continental Airlines a platinum sponsor of the conference is providing tickets for the students and their chaperones.

Cadbury Schweppes launches beverage line on Guam
Shades of Paradise LLC which does business as Paradise Souvenir Sales and is the exclusive distributor of Cadbury Schweppes products on Guam; held the launch of the Schweppes line of sparkling beverages on Oct. 10 at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort.

The Schweppes line of beverages are sparkling or carbonated and include ginger ale soda water fruit-based products ginger beer cream soda mineral water lemonade and teas.

The products are available at numerous grocery stores gas stations and retail stores throughout Guam.

In November 2006 Cadbury Schweppes launched its line of chocolates on Guam. Both the candy and the sparkling beverages are produced in Australia.

In the U.S. Cadbury products are manufactured by The Hershey Co. Both the U.S. and Australian versions of the candies are available on Guam.

The launch was held in conjunction with the farewell and welcome party – for Ian Davey the outgoing Australian Trade Commissioner; and Ross Bray who will be replacing Davey.

Bice tells DOI attendees next military buildup meeting in February
HAGåTÑA Guam – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s 4th Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands on Oct. 8 and 9 at the Hyatt Regency Guam drew more than 800 attendees including government leaders and officials from throughout Micronesia and the Pacific and representatives of large and small businesses from areas including the U.S. mainland Hawaii Japan Korea the Philippines Australia and New Zealand.

Micronesia and leaders spoke at the beginning and plenary session of the conference to a packed ballroom with seating for 810 relayed to an overflow room at the hotel with seating for a further 140. Gov. Felix P. Camacho referred to the coming military buildup in his welcome speech. "I believe that the growth must be balanced sustainable planned and properly implemented " he said. The governor also touched on the population growth the buildup is expected to bring. "Northern Guam – our most populous area – is expected to grow even more " he said with estimates that would see Guam’s population begin to rise by 2010 from 165 to 180 000.

The event provided information on a variety of industries opportunities and on doing business in the islands. However speeches by Lt. General Daniel P. Leaf deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command – speaking via satellite link from Hawaii; and Maj. General David Bice (Ret.) executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office; drew large audiences as did question and answer sessions after both speeches. Leaf addressed the issue of infrastructure. "It won’t be easy for us to ensure we’ve got the infrastructure on Guam " he said. In response to questions he said off the money to come from the Japanese government "Their investment is on-installation." He further said "The Japanese and the U.S. will work together on making the calls. There will be opportunities for American contractors." He told attendees regarding the military’s intent "We will negotiate or build or acquire some training facilities."

Bice shared an updated timeline with attendees and said that the Preferred Working Level Master Plan would be completed by July 2008 with a construction schedule from 2009 to 2014 offering "close to $3.1 billion a year" in peak years. A 200-acre training complex would be built he said. "Estimates run from 12 000 to 15 000 [personnel] training in Guam and the surrounding islands " Bice said. "We see Guam becoming a transportation hub for goods and services. My impression is the first year we’ll be taking care of housing for the workers and site work " he said saying that construction was slated to begin in 2010. He estimated that "vertical" or building construction would begin in 2011. As to shortage of labor he said "We’re already in discussion with [the Department of] Homeland Security and Congress." Referring to the movement of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Futenma required before U.S. Marines could come to Guam Bice said "So far Japan is ahead of schedule. They’re going to be starting construction in January 2008."

Bice said that the next Guam Industry Forum was planned for February.

Lujan questions airport revenue allocations
HAGåTÑA Guam – According to a release dated Sept. 28 Sen. Jesse A. Lujan chairman of the Committee on Aviation Federal Affairs Labor Housing Banking and Insurance; issued letters to Standard and Poor’s representatives Theodore Chapman and James Breeding as well as the FAA Regional Manager Ron V. Simpson regarding the status of Bill No. 60. The bill "An Act to Prohibit the Transfer of Funds from the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport Authority Guam for the General Purposes of the Government of Guam " was recently vetoed by Gov. Felix P. Camacho.

The letters were intended to shine light on the governor’s recent actions including the withdrawals of millions of dollars from the Tourist Attraction Fund and the Territorial Highway Fund the release said. Also included was a copy of the memorandum from the Attorney General’s Office ordering the governor to reimburse said funds. The actions according to the senator’s office "underline his cause for concern as to what the Governor will try to do next with autonomous agency funds."

Continental Airlines carries 20 millionth visitor to Guam reinstates Yap flights
TIYAN Guam – According to a press release dated Sept. 28 Continental Airlines carried its 20 millionth visitor to Guam that afternoon. The passenger arrived on Flight 970 from Nagoya.

Continental also celebrated another milestone on Oct. 1 – the airline commemorated 30 years of service to Japan. On Oct. 1 1977 a CO Boeing 727 made the inaugural flight into Japan connecting Saipan and Tokyo International Airport at Haneda. Continental now serves eight cities in Japan.

In an Oct. 5 press release Continental announced that direct flights from Yap to Guam will be reinstated effective Nov. 1. The airline decided to restore the original flight schedule after receiving assurances that a consistent supply of jet fuel would be available on the island.

Continental officials also announced the scheduling of direct flights from Yap to Palau. MBJ