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Candidates for Industry

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

“What we need is an industry...”

While we're on the subject of “change,” (see last week's column), I came across a recently posted conversation on Angelo Villagomez' blog ( which involved the desirability of casino gambling as a savior industry for Saipan. One individual made the point that what Saipan needs is an industry to replace the garment and tourism industries. So I started thinking. What's an industry? Is gambling even a legitimate industry? Do we even need an industry?

Well, according to the American Heritage Dictionary:

in·dus·try (_n’d_-str_) n. pl. in·dus·tries

1. Commercial production and sale of goods. 2. A specific branch of manufacture and trade: the textile industry. 3. The sector of an economy made up of manufacturing enterprises.

Other definitions include:

4. the aggregate of manufacturing or technically productive enterprises in a particular field, often named after its principal product: i.e. the automobile industry; the steel industry. 5. any general business activity; commercial enterprise: i.e. the Italian tourist industry. 6. trade or manufacture in general: i.e. the rise of industry in Africa.

I'll leave you to determine for yourself what sorts of solutions fit into that definition. The reason that's important is that a long-term strategy for revitalization should always include the creation of a unique product or export that is sold to increasing numbers of people; something that is less dependent on the whims of consumers, but based on fulfilling some real market need.

Do we need one?

While I'm no economist, I am confident in my assessment that the reason we need an industry is to generate money to survive. In a capitalistic society, trade of the products of industry creates income for entrepreneurs and employees, as well as taxes for the government which, in turn, provides services to the public. Simple enough.

A radical thought

So what would happen if there was not one single savior industry, but several? Taking that even further, what if there were not just several, but 60,000 mini-industries? (60,000, for the purpose of our discussion, being our current population) What if each person at a time generated enough income to survive, and then paid taxes on their income?

If Tony Pellegrino is correct in his observation that “big-monied” investors might be a little difficult to find right now, then this might be a sensible way to start thinking about the future.

So what would it take to make that happen? Well, people would need to take more personal control of their economic situations and provide goods and services that tap into natural resources, local talents and indigenous assets to address real local needs, and at the same time create businesses that are not wholly dependent on local dollars for their survival.

In that same blog discussion, Villagomez suggests:

“For starters, there are tons of ecotourism opportunities on this island.

- “What if someone took a traditional canoe down to the Laulau dive site and charged tourists $30 for a 30-minute ride between dives? You’ve got to be above water for an hour, so why not do something cultural? They could make $100 per hour and there would be no overhead as long as the boat was paid for and the person giving the rides was the owner.

- “.or how about my home-stay hostel idea? Create an extra bedroom in your house, outfit it with some nice stuff, start a website in basic English or Japanese, and wait for tourists to sign up. Most of the bed & breakfasts in the U.S. rely on word-of-mouth or the Internet for their business. Once you had your first customer, you’d be in business.”

- “How about you make necklaces and sell them at the street market on Thursday?

- How about you start a website and put ads on it?

In the same discussion, another writer suggests:

- A writers' colony or retreat (a lot of people who come here want to write; it’s a natural getaway for creative prospects).

- "Summer" camps that teach English to foreign tourists (capitalizing on "winter" camps for tennis, swimming, baseball).

- A local business called "the lunch counter" that sells low-cal food on or near the beach path and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Other suggestions include:

- Design websites, provide photographs or do translations for money, harnessing the power of the Internet as the means of delivery.

That same writer asks: “Why can’t we couple tourism with sports, environment [and] culture? It would not be a quick fix. It would take hard work. But those are the kinds of solutions that work for the long run.”

[p.s. for the identities behind some of these ideas and thoughts, see the “sex, drugs and losing your shirt” post on]

Personally, I think these are some great ideas. True, none of them would be “the” savior industry many think is needed, but it would start to empower individuals in a more direct way.

Having said that, I'd like to think that what I offer through this column can have some positive effect on people's response to their current situation. I'd like to think I can provide a new perspective that aids action; some new information that facilitates execution. I'd like to think that one person with the right inspiration, information and idea can start a business that can change his or her life. Who knows? Industries are often started by one idea that catches on in the minds of others. Anyone of these and other ideas, if successful, could inspire others to follow suit, and a culture of independence and self-sufficiency and a multiplicity of industries might result! What a radical thought! Crazy? Well that's why you read this column. If I was saying what everyone else was saying, there would be no value.

So, if you think, as I do, that your future standard of living is best served by your own efforts, and as you take any of these and other business ideas a step further in execution, remember:

- Execute, don't debate. The new Saipan is in the hands of the entrepreneurs who are deciding what the new Saipan will look like. Entrepreneurs are not involved in debate. They decide, and then execute.

- Act quickly. The solution has already been decided. What we are witnessing now is the unfolding. To be a part of it you must act now.

- Think anew. As you decide what business to start, realize that some business models, businesses and even lifestyles may no longer be viable. Traditional solutions, and “the way it's always been” may no longer apply. (That's the very definition of “change.”)

- Get ethical. There are those who maintain that an economic system and business models that hinge on the exploitation of people and natural resources is bound to peak and then collapse, and what we are witnessing in some parts of the world are the early, and even advanced signs of such a collapse. Businesses that recognize this and seek to empower rather than exploit may be on the cutting edge of the new paradigm.

And, to repeat: As is inevitable in all cycles, there will come a day when full economic prosperity returns to these shores. Don't let anyone tell you differently: That future is being created right now. Someone, in fact, many people are creating that future right now. There is someone somewhere who is deciding where you will eat, what you will drive, where you will shop, how you will communicate, and what standard of living you will enjoy, or endure. Plans are being hatched. Deals are being made. Leases are being signed all with the intention of bringing to life a vision of the future.

Where will you and your business be at that time?

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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!


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