If living on Guam for more than 25 years has taught me anything, it’s that there are a multitude of factors beyond the island’s control.
Many of those factors are decisions that politicians make.
And like a pool whose ripples spread out, I hear from our businesses how frustrating it is to balance a business plan on the one hand with political actions on the other if you do business in the islands — hoping that you will swim rather than sink among the eddies.
As David John and Joe Arnett will tell you further into the magazine, we are currently at the mercy of governments, and geo-political developments caused by governments.
Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are dealing with labor issues courtesy of the U.S. government that ripple out to our businesses and affect growth of those economies.
At the moment, we are poised for the release of the Economic Census of Guam and the Economic Census of the Northern Mariana Islands — which happen every five years. Information was taken in 2018 relating to 2017, and will include the number of businesses with one or more employees, their revenue bracket, payroll, benefits, capital expenditures and more.
In Guam for the last two economic censuses the number of businesses with payroll has stayed flat at about 3,000; 3,099 in 2012 and 3,143 in 2007. In the NMI, the figures were 1,191 businesses in 2007 and a 1,339 in 2012.
By the time an economic census appears, other factors have overtaken it — whether outside or inside our economies. Our list is a snapshot of the economy, but timely. Joe is chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce and David is chairman of the Guam Economic Development Authority. Both of them have brought to their articles not only the current reality, but information based on where they sit and the benefit of years of experience in analyzing our economies.
For list participants in other islands outside of the Marianas, the Compacts of Free Association will bring economic opportunities as their locations are intertwined with politics in Asia — and plenty of financial support from all quarters.
Among other features, we also took the pulse of the banking industry in this issue, whose clients will come to grips in the coming year with the reality that a 25% increase in the Orwellian-named business privilege tax is here to stay, the just- activated minimum wage increase and sky-rocketing residential construction costs. While businesses are loath to increase pricing, the bottom line will prevail. There is no doubt that reality will drill down.
Of course, there are bright spots in our economies and David and Joe touch on those too.
Likewise, Guam Business Magazine is always happy to bring you information on who has the courage to open a business, new accomplishments and praise-worthy efforts of all kinds.
Maureen N. Maratita