There can be few businesses that have enjoyed 2020, certainly since March.

While initially our islands thought that COVID-19 would but briefly affect our industries, as we head towards 2021, this pernicious pandemic is here to stay — as are its effects on our communities. Vaccines will not change that for a long time.

The islands have had different economic solutions to COVID — the commonality is the fear that it brings.

In the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau the solution has been closed borders. Those islands have aimed to continue trade where possible — for local populations, and off-shore as in the case of the fishing industry in the Marshalls. Those islands also have received grants and aimed to continue long-planned projects — as with the new landfill in Palau.

The prospect of a renewed relationship with the military is heartening and the bilateral statements between the U.S. and Palau is a nod to the future and the prospects that such a relationship will bring  not only for security but for economic benefits.

As our Tinian story shows — the elephant in the room now is the plans the Biden-Harris administration will have for military construction in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

It has been more than a decade since the U.S. and Japan agreed that American forces would move to Guam. This paper has been reporting on related plans since 2006, and other plans for a buildup in Guam before that.

We have diligently followed revisions, revitalizations and ramifications and will continue to do so.

It’s clear that the future of the islands remains tied to other nations.

Military construction monies and the federal aid that has poured in have saved lives, homes and jobs. Other nations such as Japan, Taiwan and the Peoples Republic of China have also fed funds into the islands, for whatever reasons

We are almost on the cusp of a New Year and the future is here and welcome. mbj