'But work should start now'
Thursday, November 19, 2009
By Haidee V. Eugenio
MILITARY OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND
$1.1B projects in FY 2010
Capt. Peter S. Lynch, commanding officer of the commanding officer of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas, briefs participants in yesterday's Guam/CNMI Military Contracting Opportunities Symposium about opportunities on Tinian in connection with the $15-billion, multi-year military buildup in Guam. (Haidee V. Eugenio) From practical tips that include being electronically savvy for online registration to working closely with firms now bidding for projects, CNMI contractors yesterday heard from experts how to take advantage of the opportunities that come with the $15-billion, multi-year military buildup in Guam.
Some 10,000 additional workers are also needed to build facilities in Guam, maximizing U.S. or local labor capabilities.
While most construction projects will be in Guam, there are opportunities for the CNMI government and private businesses, mainly the existing land leases on Tinian and the needed small arms training ranges also on Tinian for the initial buildup phase.
Opportunities for the CNMI also include providing logistical support services, public works, construction and environmental services, and hosting military personnel and their families for rest and recreation.
Contractors should also be on the lookout for other services needed by military personnel as well as the workers involving food supply, or as simple as haircut services.
“The ramp up is clear. The dollars are coming,” said Capt. Peter S. Lynch, commanding officer of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas.
Lynch was among the resource speakers in yesterday's Guam/CNMI Military Contracting Opportunities Symposium at the Saipan World Resort in Susupe.
Construction will start in 2010. Major construction projects in Guam in Fiscal Year 2010 alone are expected to reach $1.1 billion, double the figure in FY 2009, he said.
Of this amount, some $674 million will be for projects directly associated with the relocation of 8,000 Marines, as well as their families, from Okinawa to Guam.
Another $259 million will be for a hospital, while the other $174 million will be for other related projects.
Lynch cited other near-term opportunities in FYs 2010 and 2011, depending on funding and budget. These include an estimated $10 million maintenance dredging of the Apra Harbor, a $5 million to $10 million Apra Harbor seawall repairs, and airfield repairs at Andersen Air Force base worth $10 million to $15 million.
Experts recommend CNMI contractors to either partner with established firms now bidding or will bid for military projects or start building their own capacity.
Lynch said contractors will be evaluated based on past performance, workforce housing and logistics, and small business utilization.
“The workforce housing and logistics such as providing medical services, food, dining, housing, safety, security and transportation can make or break [a contractor],” he said.
Roy Tsutsui, assistant defense representative for the Joint Region Marianas, said the opportunities for the CNMI include existing leased land.
On Tinian, for example, 58 percent of the land is leased by the U.S. military, while 100 percent of land on Farallon de Medinilla and near shore waters is used for military training.
On Saipan, 127 acres of land are used for the American Memorial Park and the Army Reserve compound.
He said there will be a need for training ranges on Tinian for the initial buildup phase.
Tsutsui also noted the creation of a CNMI Military Integration Management Committee to coordinate efforts for taking advantage of the opportunities brought by the buildup.
Albert Sampson, small business advisor for NAVFAC Marianas, said companies that provide quality work for construction and services have the edge.
He said working with the U.S. Navy, for example, requires that a contractor is computer or electronically savvy to be able to register their company online.
“Your company should be registered with the Central Contractor Registration (www.bpn.gov). It's not enough that you are registered. Tell us what you do, and update your profile,” Sampson told the symposium participants.
To get started, contractors need to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System, and register with the Central Contractor Registration.
Carl Peterson, a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, said “the CNMI has great opportunity” and it has to “think of possibilities.”
“We want to do this together. There's always a possibility of fabrication in the CNMI, or build interiors of houses or buildings here, put them in a box, and then ship them to Guam if that's economically sound. That remains a possibility,” he told he crowd.
Peterson also gave a rundown of myths surrounding the military buildup, including one that says the military will pay for everything, or that the buildup will destroy the islands' culture, or that the military will increase the crime rate in Guam.
Other resource speakers in the morning session included Capt. Michael Uva, supply officer at Fleet Industrial Supply Center, and Vera Topasna, program manager at the Procurement Technical Assistance Center Overview.
Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, in his opening remarks, said that while the military buildup has caused a great deal of excitement and optimism in the Marianas, it has also caused anxiety and uncertainty about the “unknowns” associated with the troop relocation.
Top U.S. Department of Defense officials have visited the CNMI and Guam in the past months.
“Although the dialogue between the Department of Defense and regional leaders has been important, the most critical communication is with the community. It is with this in mind that the CNMI requested a symposium of this magnitude to be presented by the Department of Defense,” he said.
Inos also pitched the CNMI's written strategic plan, to leverage the islands' infrastructure, human resources, and natural resources “to maximize the opportunities specific to the CNMI community.”
The government awarded a $160,000 contract to a private consulting firm that came up with a document on what the CNMI could offer the U.S. Department of Defense as the region prepares for the military buildup.
The CNMI, being a U.S. territory and its capital island of Saipan only 120 miles from Guam, can provide alternate airport and seaport facilities that could be used to enhance training opportunities for deployment training, and operations and maintenance logistics function, the document said.
Gregorio Q. Castro, general manager of SSFM International-Saipan Office, said the symposium allowed contractors “to see what's on the horizon” in connection with the military buildup, “and how much of economic impact it will have on us here in the CNMI.”
“As an engineering firm and construction management firm, SSFM wants to link up with major firms in order for us to get projects. We are working on linking up with them,” Castro said in an interview.
Castro was one of the estimated 200 symposium participants mostly from private companies representing a wide range of industries-engineering, architecture, construction services and supply, shipping, landscaping, human resources, automotive, and food catering services, among other things.
Castro, who is a Tinian resident, also expressed optimism that the need for small arms training ranges on Tinian will help boost the island's economy.
More than this, he said, Tinian's casino industry will provide a good place for military personnel and their families for rest and recreation.
“I believe they will not stay in Guam or Saipan for vacation where there will be lots of people. They will visit Tinian which is a quieter place,” he said.
Guam was selected for the military buildup because of its strategic location. Its location enhances military force flexibility, deterrence value, freedom of action, prompt global action, regional engagement and crisis response, said Tsutsui in his presentation.
The afternoon session included presentations by CNMI Commerce Secretary Michael Ada on the CNMI Military Integration Committee, and Saipan Chamber of Commerce incoming president Doug Brennan and incoming vice president Jim Arenovski on what the CNMI can offer the military and prime contractors.
Environmental impact statement
Lynch, in his presentation, said the draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, of the Guam military buildup will be released later this week, for public comment.
The draft EIS consists of almost 4,000 pages and the appendices, another 4,000 pages.
Lynch said in January 2010, public meetings will be held on the draft EIS. Five of these public meetings will be in Guam, one on Saipan, and one on Tinian.
An EIS provides details of the possible environmental impacts of a federal action as required by the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act.