This issue of Guam Business Magazine focuses on construction and contracting — the most active and buoyant of our industry sectors, though not without its challenges.
Naval Facilities Engineering and Systems Command Marianas estimates that the pace of $1.6 billion in military construction in the Oceania region is due to continue to fiscal 2029, with the peak of construction to occur in 2023. At its peak, $600 million in MilCon is estimated to be active under NAVFAC Marianas.
Construction funding for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will also come from American Recover Plan Act allocations, though how to allocate that has not been decided by the Treasury. Guam is due to receive $553.58 million and the NMI $481.88 million swiftly from the ARP Act, plus additional funding that includes education and health care, additional funding under the Counties designation — $32.66 million in Guam’s case and $10.14 million in the NMI’s case. The U.S. Treasury’s portal opened May 11 for governments to upload spending plans and the Treasury also published its Interim Final Rule on how governments may spend funding. Final figures are expected to come close to estimated disbursements: $661 million in the case of Guam and $507 million for the NMI.
Additional funding for the NMI includes U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Disaster Recovery funding of $253.95 million for post-typhoons construction and repair. The Federated States of Micronesia is also looking to move ahead with about $400 million in construction.
While there are efforts in the Mariana Islands to train residents and company hires in the skills the industry needs, that cannot happen quickly enough. The surge in construction will also depend on H-2 labor.
In October 2020 the Guam Department of Labor estimated Guam would need 3,000 contract workers in fiscal 2021, but considered that estimate conservative, saying numbers of 5,000 to 6,000 are more likely, following discussions with the U.S. military. The NMI wants to increase its cap of 3,000 contract workers also.
But read on, to hear from our construction leaders in their own words.