BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
Journal Staff

Camacho

The Guam Economic Development Authority is seeing a gratifying increase in enquiries about its Qualifying Certificate program.

Interest in the island’s potential is high, Edward Camacho, manager of the Business and Economic Development Division; told the Journal.

A lot of companies look at Guam; some of them make investments.”

Camacho said the appeal of the QC program is evident. “We’re having a lot more interest than we’ve seen in previous years.”

Camacho said GEDA will be re-examining the QC program, since the authority is not privy to tax information.

“We want to have benefits that are more definable,” Camacho said.

GEDA currently has 10 active QCs, one of which will be revoked, since there has been no activity.

The other nine come from a variety of industries.  Among them is the Guam Regional Medical City. “That’s one we’re proud of,” Camacho said. “The people of Guam have benefited from the investment.” GRMC has been an active participant in the healthcare industry, most recently hosting an Outreach event in November in Dededo for Federated States of Micronesia residents on Medicare and other programs.

Guam’s newest hotel is The Tsubaki Tower, which opened on July 1, 2020, which Camacho also views as a successful investment for Guam.

“That’s another one,” he said. According to Journal files, Tsubaki Tower employs 306 staff, but would like to reach 380 employees. The property recently expanded its parking lot, and has all food and beverage outlets open, though for select times.

Anemos restaurant and the ZOH nightclub entrance will front the new Baldyga Group complex.
Rendering courtesy of Baldyga Group

The Baldyga Group also received a QC for its $15 million redevelopment of the SandCastle complex, currently well underway, with the expansive ZOH nightclub the first of multiple attractions at the site to open in December. The complex will add a variety of new experiences to Tumon. In a 2018 survey commissioned by the Guam Visitors Bureau, visitors from Japan and Korea expressed dissatisfaction with night-time activities.

Core Tech International has also received approval for a QC for Summer Breeze 1 – a development of 64 affordable units in Mangilao. Core Tech will also construct a community center, a pavilion with concrete benches, bus stops, and among other necessities will bring in the water line, fire line, sewer lines, storm drains, power lines, and parking. The water lines will benefit property owners along the way. Some of the construction will be financed by low income tax credits.

Core Tech had a previous QC, which expired in 2020, and allowed Core Tech to build more than 1,163 homes.

Camacho said businesses that have reached out include those in the hospitality industry — two hotel developments currently in planning — and retailer Pan Pacific Retail Management Guam Co. Ltd., which does business as Don Quijote Co. Ltd also known as Don Don Donki — which has advertised its intent to apply for its upcoming Guam location.

While Guam’s tourism recovery is slow, prior to the pandemic, in 2014 the Guam Visitors Bureau had already recognized the need for additional hotels, preferably high-end offerings, with a goal of an additional 1,600 rooms in its Tourism 2020. “Another hotel would benefit tourism,” Camacho said.

Small businesses should not discount the QC program, he said. “It’s for any type of investment.” The Guam Brewery’s Taphouse — which re-opened in Blue Lagoon Plaza in August — has taken advantage of the QC program. Aside from its beverage offerings at the Taphouse, the location offers branded t-shirts and hats, and also successfully distributes its beverages to Pay-Less Supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants.

QC applications can fall into 17 industries, offering wide possibilities. Applications are taken under the wing of the Business and Economic Development Division before being presented to the GEDA board. “The board members are very involved,” Camacho said. “They ask hard questions.” Applicants have contact at that level when the potential QC is being discussed with the board, he said. “We invite the applicant to come in.” 

Initial information can be found at www.investguam.com/business-in-guam/investor-incentives.

Camacho encourages potential applicants to reach out to GEDA. “We say, ‘Understand the QC program before you apply.’” mbj