In covering the industries of construction and retail this issue in addition to the personal undertakings of our 40 Under Forties, one thing becomes quite clear: The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our region.
You see it in the island’s shopping centers. Agana Shopping Center achieved 100% occupancy on its first floor in recent years — the first time since the center underwent major renovations in 2002, according to Leasing and Marketing Manager Charles T. McJohn II. Many of the newest tenants are locally born businesses — to include Fizz & Co., Port of Mocha and Dr. Kabob — while others are the ventures of franchisees, such as Cinnabon.
You see it in several new construction projects, in which small-business spaces are the primary consideration. At least five new commercial centers have been built in the past couple years or are now under construction — Northpoint Business Center in Yigo, Chi Plaza on Macheche Road in Dededo, Mangilao Plaza on Route 10, Yu Property Commercial Building on Route 8 in Maite and Phase II of the Camacho Landmark Center in Tamuning.
And among the 40 young businesspeople of our “40 Under Forty” feature, more than half have embarked upon their own entrepreneurial journeys, creating Welcome Home Realty, Crust Pizzeria Napoletana and Stroll Guam, to name a few of the newer additions to the business landscape.
Contributing in large part to this surge of business ownership is a stable economy, which has given people confidence to invest in their business plans. But another major factor is that Guam and Micronesia as a whole are an entrepreneur’s oysters. Opportunities and untapped markets exist around every corner. All it takes is an idea and, of course, minding the budget.
The president of a long-time family business on island told me the most important key to their longevity and success has been, quite simply, watching their bottom line. A number of competitors in their industry have come and gone, he said, because they had a good idea and great initiative but failed to ensure receivables were coming in.
This is a simple but sound bit of advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Additionally, our islands have a strong set of resources, and many of them free, in place for prospective small-business owners, including the Small Business Administration, the Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, for those interested in government contract work.
It is our honor to shine the spotlight this issue on 40 individuals who are not just under the age of 40 and doing their jobs well, but who are taking a new approach to their jobs, creating new jobs and inspiring others in the process. We look forward to continuing coverage of their successes.