The impending military buildup in the Marianas will bring business opportunities for local investors but not all of them can do direct business with the U.S. military, according to the president and chairman of the Tinian Chamber of Commerce.
“There are certain steps and requirements that you have to go through prior to submitting a bid or being a part of U.S. military procurement,” said Phillip Mendiola-Long, who is also president and managing director of Sherman Consulting.
Mendiola-Long, who also serves as council member for the U.S. Department of Commerce Hawaii Pacific Export Council, said the CNMI business community must prepare for these contracting opportunities that will be available in line with the military buildup.
The buildup involves the relocation of some 8,600 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam, including the construction of facilities and infrastructure to support training and operations on Guam and Tinian for the relocated Marines.
Since Guam cannot accommodate all training for the relocating Marines, the military looks at Tinian to provide opportunities for training groups of 200 Marines or larger due to greater land availability by developing four live-fire training ranges on the island.
In preparation for the military buildup in the Marianas, Mendiola-Long said the Tinian Chamber of Commerce is hosting the U.S. Military Contracting Small Business Outreach Forum on Oct. 27 at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel from 8am to 4:30pm.
Forum registration is $45 with lunch and $25 without lunch. All funds collected will go to the Tinian Chamber of Commerce to cover expenses for hosting the event.
Mendiola-Long said the whole day forum is a great opportunity for local investors to learn more about the prospects of doing business with the federal government and get technical assistance in preparation for these business opportunities.
Forum set up
Mendiola-Long told Saipan Tribune that they set up the forum in three steps to facilitate presentations and discussions and invited speakers vital to the preparation for and the actual military buildup.
He said the first step is a program overview of what business opportunities the CNMI can look out for in particular.
Rear Admiral Paul Bushong, Commander for U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, will talk about the importance of CNMI to the military. Joint Guam Program Office Forward Director John Jackson will discuss the Record of Decision for the Guam/Marianas Military Relocation.
Office of Economic Adjustment project manager Richard Solander under the Secretary of Defense Office will talk about how the military and civilian community can collaborate to ensure success in its partnership. Commanding Officer Peter S. Lynch of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command will give an update on the type of contracts that are coming out of Guam and the CNMI.
The second phase is the technical aspect of the forum. Vera Topasna, program manager for Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center, will talk about the basics of contracting with the U.S. government. Casey Jeszenka, network director for Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center, will discuss how SBDC can serve as a resource and provide technical assistance for small businesses. Albert Sampson, small business advisor for NAVFAC Marianas, will talk about refining what businesses can do to adapt to available opportunities related to the buildup.
The third phase will ascertain specific, identifiable opportunities that come with the buildup. Guam Veterans Business Outreach Center director Frank Crisostomo-Kaaihue will identify particular contracts that are part of the Central Contracting Registry for small business owners. Christopher Dunsmore of the Defense Logistics Agency will discuss opportunities to sell goods and services to preposition ships and aircrafts.
The forum will conclude with a presentation from Special Agent Maria Markley of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service about their role in preventing procurement fraud to protect the Navy as well as the law-abiding contractors.
There will be a panel discussion or Q&A portion at the end of each phase to encourage audience participation.
Mendiola-Long said the Tinian Chamber of Commerce has worked out a deal with Star Marianas for Saipan residents who plan on attending the forum.
He said forum attendees from Saipan only have to pay $40 per person for the airfare when they fly with Star Marianas.
However, Mendiola-Long said attendees need to take any of the Star Marianas flights going to Tinian between 6am to 10am.
Attendees can fly back to Saipan by taking the flight between 5pm to 7pm on the same day.
Mendiola-Long said they can individuals who cannot make it to the Star Marianas flights can fly with Freedom Air at $69 per person.
The president of the Tinian Chamber urged all business owners big and small to attend 'the single best informative conference in the CNMI this year' because of the millions of federal and Japanese money that will be infused to the local economy.
According to Mendiola-Long, some $26 billion worth of businesses are expected to come in based on the last estimate for the military buildup.
He said all kinds of businesses-from heavy manufacturing and providing transportation to supplying water and food and providing trash collection services-are among the unlimited amount of opportunities available for local investors. “It's for everyone,” he added.
Mendiola-Long disclosed that some of the big military contractors from the U.S. mainland have already taken interest on the military buildup going on in the Marianas.
“If our business community does not take advantage of it, you can guarantee that someone else will,” he warned.
Mendiola-Long added that the NAFPAC “have special procurement abilities where they are required by federal law to give out contracts to woman-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned businesses.
“What this conference is doing is making sure that all of our people have the knowledge and basic information to get started and prepare their company to take advantage of this money coming in,” he said.
With the CNMI's current economic state, Mendiola-Long said the forum is a chance to capitalize on the unlimited business opportunities that the military buildup will bring.
“If Saipan businesses want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, this is it. They got to follow the light. They got to look at the opportunities here and make the best of what they can,” he said.
Mendiola-Long extends his appreciation to all forum sponsors. Platinum sponsors are Tan Holdings and IT&E. Gold sponsors include Sherman Consulting, Tinian Mayor's Office, and Pernix Group. Silver sponsors are FPA Corp., Kiewit-Mortenson, and Knight/McDonough A&E JV.
For online registration, visit www.TinianChamber.com and click on the NAVFAC Small Business Outreach Forum link.
For more information, contact Phillip Mendiola-Long at 433-CNMI (2664).