Chamber unveils alternative industries that can diversify Guam’s economy

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The Guam Chamber of Commerce on Friday presented alternative industries that Guam can pursue to compensate for the revenue shortfall caused by the decline of Guam’s tourism industry.

During a webinar on the economic forecast for Guam, moderator David John, the president of ASC Trust and the chairman of the Guam Economic Development Authority, said the list of alternative economic industries is the result of an exciting new joint government-private sector economic diversification initiative spearheaded by the Chamber and GEDA.

The mission of this initiative was to identify industries and ideas that can help with Guam’s economic recovery as the island works to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Chamber sees a gradual return of tourism to the island, it is also looking at industries outside of tourism to grow Guam’s economic base with the support of the public sector in the hopes of mitigating the vulnerabilities associated with travel restrictions, mandatory lockdown measures or business closures, John said.

Among the new ideas and new industries that the group announced are: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); Captive Insurance; Guam Trust Law; Relocation of High Wealth Individuals & Business from Asia; Pharmaceutical manufacturing relocation to US Territories; Construction, Ship Repair and Labor; Safe Haven Port; Satellite Launching; and the Silicon Village Initiative.

“With the support from members of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the executive branch, the legislature, and multiple government agencies, there was birthed the idea that while tourism and federal studies have done well to provide jobs and business opportunities for the island for decades, we can do more with our location as the United States territory in the Asia-Pacific region,” John said.

He added that this initiative reflects the much stronger relationship between the government and the private sector who are working hand-in-hand throughout the pandemic to establish safe protocols to reopen the island’s economy and develop multiple small business grants and initiatives.

“For a number of years, the Guam Chamber of Commerce has recognized that industry diversification is vital to sustaining our local and regional economies in the Marianas and in Micronesia. As fruitful as tourism has been for Guam and our neighboring islands, the fragility of the industry has tested Guam and the Region’s business community over the years through natural disasters and global crises,” the Chamber stated in a backgrounder.

According to the Chamber, the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has crippled Guam’s visitor industry with almost zero economic activity in the second and perhaps even the third quarter of 2020.

“Business closures associated with the pandemic have left thousands of our residents unemployed for the unforeseeable future. The uncertainties of this situation remind us of how vulnerable our current economic model is and how imperative it is that we develop and sustain new industries that will capitalize on our existing strengths and encourage our workforce to seek higher skill-sets,” the Chamber stated.

“Key to pushing many of the ideas forward is working with our local government to elevate Guam service levels by streamlining our government operations and processes. Further, a commitment from our government partners to work toward these goals collectively will determine how quickly we can attain them,” the Chamber added.

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