Significant bright spots in local economy says Chamber president
Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson has called for the private sector not to dwell on the "negatives" dealing with the local economy this year, and encouraged them to adopt a positive attitude heading into the New Year.
"This current year has presented some considerable economic challenges to both the private sector and the government - not all of our own making," said Robinson during his speech at Saturday night's Business Award ceremony sponsored by the Chamber and the Business and Professional Women of American Samoa.
"High unemployment, increasing inflation and rising costs have all contributed to a slow down in our economy making it very difficult for some businesses to survive," he said. "However, let us not continue to dwell on the negatives, as there have been some significant bright spots."
Among those bright spots, he said, is Gov. Togiola Tulafono's decision to return to the government in June this year the Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard, which is now managed and operated by the government's Shipyard Services Authority-in which Robinson is vice chair of the board.
Other bright spots, said Robinson, are: the new development through Tri Marine International, who have taken over the former COS Samoa Packing site to operate Samoa Tuna Processor cannery; hiring at StarKist Samoa; successful deferment of another minimum wage increase; success of the new American Samoa Culinary Academy, continuity of work in the construction industry and the development of the Fagatogo Market Place.
Additionally, there are the successful efforts of the American Samoa Visitor's Bureau to attract more cruise ships to the territory- with 19 scheduled to call into the Port of Pago Pago next year.
"We must all continue to adopt a positive attitude going forward as the new year 2012 will probably be another challenging year," Robinson told the audience. "Let us remember that success is ultimately about building self sufficiency and helping people help themselves."
Robinson said the new executive board, after being selected a few months ago, "hit the ground running and produced our plan of action for the 2012 year which was adopted by the board."
"We commenced with a program of re-engagement and mapped out ways to support and work closely with the government, to ensure that we continue to provide value for our members," he said, adding that re-engagement with the government is moving forward well, working with other ASG agencies and the Department of Commerce.
He encouraged local businesses, especially Samoan-owned businesses, to join the Chamber.
"We hope that increasing numbers of local business people will realize that one of the significant benefits of membership in the Chamber, apart from membership itself, is participating in the regular monthly meetings, where members are able to share advice on improvements and new opportunities for their business," he said.
"It offers access to the talents of other members in different industry sectors who are available to offer their assistance and support," he noted.