Calvo Addresses China, Economic Opportunities before NGA

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Guam – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo Saturday addressed the military buildup and Guam’s quest for a visa waiver program with China. His remarks were made before the nation’s governors in a national media conference.

The Governor is participating in the National Governors Association 2011 Winter Meeting. The meeting began at 1 a.m. today, Chamorro Standard Time.

Governors were asked by national media about the challenges they are experiencing in the States and territories during the opening day of the meeting. The other governors spoke about the economic challenges facing their States. Governor Calvo said Guam has its challenges, but that Guam faces historic opportunities with the buildup of Marine forces on the island. He also said he is in Washington, D.C. to promote a Guam-CNMI-only visa waiver program with China, among other issues.

“China’s outbound tourist market is growing,” Governor Calvo said. “It makes perfect sense to open up Guam and the CNMI to these tourists. We are an American community that offers a world-class resort destination for these tourists. We also want these same programs with Russia and the Philippines.”

National Governors Association 2011 Winter Meeting

The NGA communications team today released the following information about the first day of the winter meeting, and the agenda for the Sunday and Monday sessions of the NGA:

Governors from across the nation gather this weekend to address critical issues, including state fiscal conditions, job creation, health care and education during the National Governors Association (NGA) 2011 Winter Meeting. Governors will also meet with President Obama, members of the Administration, members of Congress, business leaders and industry experts for discussions on a range of issues and challenges facing states.

This morning, the official business portion of the meeting will begin with an opening plenary session highlighting job creation, which continues to be a top priority for governors. Governors will be joined by Dr. Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School, who will provide an overview of the key elements needed to grow a state’s economy. The party secretary of the Hunan Provincial Committee, Zhou Qiang, is leading a delegation of Chinese officials interested in establishing a subnational dialogue with NGA and will conclude the session.

“As governors, we face similar situations every day,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. Gov. Gregoire is the NGA chairman. “Our country is still faced with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, and we must make tough choices for our states. But with these challenges comes great opportunity. The unique bipartisan structure of NGA meetings enables us to put politics aside and have candid conversations to develop innovative and improved approaches to governing.”

Using other high-performing countries as a guide, the nation’s governors discussed concrete action steps that governors can take to improve education in their states today during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.

The discussion, titled “Global Lessons to Improve K-12 Education,” was held during the Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee meeting and featured the following speakers:  Sir Michael Barber, head of the Global Education Practice, McKinsey & Company; The Honorable Arne Duncan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; and Andreas Schleicher, head of the Indicators and Analysis Division, Directorate for Education, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“This link between education, workforce development and economic growth is what our Classrooms-to-Careers initiative is about,” Governor Calvo said. “The nation’s governors recognize that the key to the future is education, especially as so many other countries are excelling.”

“Education of the American workforce is the pathway for America to remain strong in the competitive global economy that we find ourselves in, today,” said Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, vice chair of the committee. “Hearing from a distinguished panel of internationally recognized experts in elementary and secondary education policy gives us an opportunity to gather new ideas to make our education system stronger.”

On Sunday, the Economic Development and Commerce, Health and Human Services and Natural Resources committees and the Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety will all meet for policy discussions. These sessions will focus on the state of public finance; turning health care cost challenges into opportunities for reform; the development of domestic resources; and cybersecurity, respectively.

Private “governors-only” sessions, including a meeting with President Obama and Cabinet members at the White House, provide governors the opportunity for dialogue on a variety of issues facing states.

The meeting will conclude Monday afternoon, with a plenary session focused on Gov. Gregoire’s chair’s initiative, Complete to Compete. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will join governors to discuss the importance of increasing college attainment rates for economic competitiveness and highlight options for boosting these rates with existing resources.

About the NGA

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s, most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org.