The local community must develop more homegrown industries to be able to sustain its economy with or without the military buildup said David Leddy president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce.

Leddy said the community must explore other businesses that will support and nurture tourism – Guam’s primary economic driver – and complement other existing local industries.

“Because it’s our bread and butter we should continue to focus on developing new industries and help our service sectors “” Leddy said in an interview with the Journal during the 8th Annual Small Business Expo and Mixer held June 28 at Guam Marriot Resort & Spa.

“”Whether or not the buildup is going to happen we should look after our own local businesses and make sure that they are in an environment where they will succeed “” he added.

Noting the resilience of Guam’s people Leddy said “”we always find a way to pull through when it comes to hard times.””

The development of local industries Leddy said goes hand in hand with the Buy Local campaign.

“”We are looking for ways to provide the mechanisms for our local farmers to be able to provide produce on a dependable basis “” Leddy said.

“”This is what we have been discussing and it involves more than the Chamber the [University of Guam] and the [Guam Economic Development Authority. We are looking for other resource partners that have the knowledge and expertise in this area.””

Jeffrey B. Jones president of Triple J Enterprises said the Buy Local movement should be more than lip service and not to be used as an excuse to be complacent.

“”Buy Local is a great slogan; it’s a great thing to do “” Jones said during the panel discussion on Buy Local “”but I am concerned that some people see it as a crutch.””

Jones said the campaign should be fleshed up with real efforts on the part of local businesses to provide the best deals customers can’t find elsewhere.

“”What happens is that people sometimes don’t buy local because they don’t get better products and services at better prices “” Jones said.

He also underscored the importance of educating local consumers about the economics of shopping off-island. “”People buy products and services in the states because prices are cheaper “” Jones said.

“”But the product get here they have to pay additional taxes shipment. Part of the educational process is to make sure customers are aware that the actual cost of buying off-island is more than what they pay for when they buy locally “” he added.

Leddy agreed that Buy Local is not based on sentimentality.

“”We are not patronizing our local vendors just because they are local “” he said. “”We still have to provide good products and services at competitive prices. It has to be based on value and ultimately it’s about quality of life.””

About 34 companies participated in the exhibition which Leddy described as “”the chamber’s biggest event of the year.””