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Statewide Family-Owned Business of the Year Named by the Small Business Administration

Kealakekua Ranch/ChoiceMART is the 2016 SBA State of Hawaii Family-Owned Business of the Year. The Hawaii State Legislature announced the award April 5 at the State Capitol. The 135-year-old company located in Captain Cook will be honored at the 29th annual United States Small Business Administration Awards and Luncheon May 6 at Dole Cannery during National Small Business Week.

Nick Greenwell, Rhonda Kavanagh and Meg Greenwell try out the Growler Shack—where kombucha and Kona Brewing Company ales are on tap— at ChoiceMART.  Photo by Fletch Photography

Nick Greenwell, Rhonda Kavanagh and Meg Greenwell try out the Growler Shack—where kombucha and Kona Brewing Company ales are on tap— at ChoiceMART. Photo by Fletch Photography

Each year since 1963, the United States Small Business Administration celebrates the achievements and contributions of small business during National Small Business Week—this year May 1 to 7. Among the most prestigious and competitive business awards in the nation and state, the annual SBA Small Business Awards honor leading small business entrepreneurs in a host of categories.

Kealakekua Ranch, Ltd./ChoiceMART was selected for the statewide honor by a panel of 14 judges that vetted hundreds of nominations.  Selection criteria included demonstrated success in job creation, potential for long-term business success and economic growth, plus community engagement.  Nominees in the Family-Owned Business category must also demonstrate a business track record of more than 15 years and success in passing ownership and operations from one generation to the next.

Established in 1881 as a cattle operation, Kealakekua Ranch has been led by four generations of the Greenwell family who transitioned the company from ranching to agricultural and commercial operations over the years. The company traces its roots to Henry Nicholas Greenwell’s arrival to Hawaii in the 1850s and his establishment of a successful general store that supplied the growing island community.

Now led by siblings Meg and Nick Greenwell with CEO Rhonda Kavanagh, Kealakekua Ranch includes a regional shopping center and independent supermarket, ChoiceMART. A major employer and hub of the South Kona community, the company provides employment for approximately 80 staff members and also supports hundreds of local farmers, fishermen, ranchers and other island producers by offering local produce, freshly caught fish, Big Island grass-fed beef and other island products at ChoiceMART supermarket.

“We are so honored to receive this award and thankful to the community for supporting us all these years,” says Meg Greenwell of Kealakekua Ranch while brother Nick Greenwell added he is “very humbled and thankful to the community” for the statewide accolade.

Today, the original general store is operated as a living history museum by the Kona Historical Society while H.N.’s great-grandchildren, Meg and Nick, carry on the family tradition of supplying goods and services to the community through the independently owned-and-operated supermarket, ChoiceMART and Kealakekua Ranch Shopping Center. Both are located on Kealakekua Ranch and front Highway 11.

“This award wouldn’t be possible without the support of our customers; hard-working local suppliers; and amazing team of employees,” noted Kavanagh.

Visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 Creates $151,246,200 in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,832,660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

The park’s 2015 visitation is up 8.25 percent from 2014 (1,693,005 visitors), and reflects a steady trend of rising visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park since 2009. The park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year along with the National Park Service, shares two of earth’s most active volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and native ecosystems with local residents and visitors.

“We are pleased to again report an increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the important economic impact park visitors have by spending money and creating jobs in our local community,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.  “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s clearly a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: http://go.nps.gov/vse or https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Hawaii House and Senate Budget Conferees Agree on Funding to Increase Vector Control Staffing – Concern for Dengue and Zika Drives Need

House and Senate conferees on the state budget today agreed to provide $1,270,120 to bolster the state Department of Health Vector Control Branch to focus on controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease.

Mosquito Bite

Hawaii Island’s recent outbreak of dengue fever and the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, which are spread by mosquitoes, have highlighted the continued importance of vector control, and House and Senate conferees want to ensure that the state is prepared to adequately short circuit, monitor and respond to any future outbreaks.

“This funding will help re-establish the vector control branch, which has been reduced over the past few years by furloughs and budget cuts,” said Sylvia Luke, chairperson of the House Finance Committee.  “In making these appropriations, the department will be able to add 20 new positions to monitor populations of vectors such as mosquitoes and rats, and to respond appropriately when a threat arises.”

Before the dengue fever outbreak in October, 2015, the state had 25 vector control positions, but 8 were vacant. With the added 20 new positions, there will be a total of 45 people in vector control when all positions are filled.

“Infectious disease has been and will continue to be one of our key challenges in a world made smaller and more connected with modern day air travel,” said Jill Tokuda, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  “The state’s recent slow response to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island was a wake-up call for all us.  We must be more vigilant in anticipating and responding to such outbreaks spread by mosquitoes and other vectors.”

In addition, the budget items agreed upon today included:

  • $6.9 million for public school transportation services;
  • $5.2 million for utilities for public schools;
  • $2.5 million for new fire trucks, firefighter equipment and fire retardant suits to ensure airport safety;
  • $1.5 million to fund a U.S. geographical survey study on Hawaii streams;
  • $1.4 million for port security and safety boats to reduce impact of natural disasters;
  • $1.25 million for maintenance and replacement of equipment at UH community colleges;
  • $400,000 to support beach restoration and protection projects and studies;
  • $180,000 for hydrologist and project development specialist positions for public land management for the disposition of water rights lease management and oversight; and
  • $162,354 for physician salary increases for better access to medical services for the Department of Public Safety.

The agreements were part of House and Senate conferees continued negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill.  Earlier in the session, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget.

Lawmakers will continue to meet to iron out differences between the two versions through April 29, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.  A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2016budget.aspx

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene on Friday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m. in room 309.

DBEDT Releases Report on Non-English Speaking Population in Hawaii

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today that examines the non-English speaking population in Hawaii based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2010 to 2014.  The department’s Research and Economic Analysis Division created the report.

Click to read the report

Click to read the report

The “Non-English Speaking Population in Hawaii” report looks at residents aged 5 and older, who can speak a language other than English.  The report shows 17.9 percent of the population are foreign born, and speak more than 130 languages. About one in four Hawaii residents speak a language other than English at home, which is higher than the U.S. average of 21 percent. The data shows 12.4 percent of the state’s population speak English less than “very well,” which is much higher than the U.S. average of 8.6 percent.

Some of the findings in the report include the following:

  • Non-English language speaking at home was more prevalent in Honolulu County than in the neighbor island counties.  The proportion of non-English speakers was highest in Honolulu County at 28 percent and lowest in Hawaii County at 19 percent.
  • Ilocano, Tagalog, and Japanese were the top three most common non-English languages spoken at home in Hawaii.  Speakers of these three languages made up about half of non-English speakers at home in Hawaii.
  • English proficiency of the non-English speaking population varied substantially by language.  Among the top 10 most common non-English languages spoken at home in Hawaii, the German speaking population had the highest English proficiency with 84 percent of them speaking English “very well,” followed by the Hawaiian speaking population at 82 percent.  The proportion of fluent English speakers was relatively low among Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Ilocano speaking population, with less than 40 percent of them speaking English “very well.”
  • Compared with the adult population, the proportion of non-English speakers was lower and English proficiency was better in the 5 to 17 school-age children group. The popular language spoken by the school-age children were also different.  The share of Hawaiian speakers was noticeably bigger in the school-age children group than in the adult group.
  • The most distinctive characteristic of the non-English speaking population from the English-only speaking population was their nativity.  Of the non-English speakers at home, 63 percent in Hawaii were foreign born.  Compared with the English-only speaking population, the non-English speakers in Hawaii had a gender structure with more female population, and an age distribution with higher shares of older age groups.  The overall educational attainments of the non-English speakers were lower than that of the English-only speakers.
  • English proficiency had strong impacts on an individual’s economic activities. Labor force participation rate of the non-English speakers, who could not speak English well was about 15 percentage points lower than the rates for the English-only speakers and the non-English speakers who could speak English well. The rate difference with these groups was bigger at 33 percentage points for the non-English speakers who could not speak English at all.
  • English proficiency also played an important role in the selection of occupation. The occupational composition of the non-English speakers who could not speak English well showed a high concentration in two occupation groups: “Food preparation and serving” and “building/grounds cleaning and maintenance”. About one in two non-English speakers worked in one of these two occupations if they could not speak English well.
  • Earning disparities among various English proficiency groups were evident.  The median earnings of the non-English speakers were lower than that of the English-only speaking population for all English proficiency levels, and the earnings gap amplified as English proficiency decreased.

The full report is available at: dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/reports_studies/non-english-speaking-population-in-hawaii/.

Maps on the non-English speaking population in Hawaii are available on this page by Census Designated Place and by Census Tract (based on the 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5 year data).

On Equal Pay Day, Senator Hirono Leads Measure To End Gender Barriers In STEM Careers

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today marked Equal Pay Day by introducing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Opportunities Act, legislation that would improve inclusion of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in STEM careers. Equal Pay Day marks the day in 2016 when, on average, women’s wages catch up to what men earned in 2015.

mazie 412“It’s unacceptable that we are more than 100 days into 2016, but women’s salaries are only now catching up with what men made last year,” said Senator Hirono. “While the gender pay gap affects women across all fields, women in STEM careers continue to face barriers that can limit their opportunities for employment and equal pay. The STEM Opportunities Act takes a comprehensive approach to combatting factors that limit the advancement of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM. For America to remain competitive in a 21st century economy, we must break down barriers for working women through passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and the STEM Opportunities Act.”

Senator Hirono also took to the Senate floor to mark Equal Pay Day and highlight disparities in STEM fields. For example, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in school year 2014-2015, men earned more than five times the number of computer science bachelor’s degrees and three times as many bachelor’s degrees in the College of Engineering as women.

The STEM Opportunities Act helps federal science agencies and institutions of higher education identify and share best practices to overcome barriers that can hurt the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM, and also allows universities and nonprofits to receive competitive grants and recognition for mentoring women and minorities in STEM fields. The STEM Opportunities Act builds on legislation championed by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

The Senate measure is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

“Science, technology, engineering and math are drivers of innovation in states like New Jersey, and across the country. If we are to remain globally competitive, we have to ensure all Americans- including women and minorities- are prepared to succeed in these important fields,” said Senator Booker. “I am pleased to support the STEM Opportunities Act to create inclusive career pathways that will help grow our economy and create opportunities for more Americans.”

“The STEM fields are critical to driving innovation and economic growth,” said Senator Gillibrand. “But we limit our potential when our STEM workforce does not reflect the diversity of our nation. I was proud to lead a successful bipartisan amendment to the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act to increase access to high-quality STEM coursework in K-12 education for students who are members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields. The STEM Opportunities Act will improve opportunities for advancement in STEM fields for women and underrepresented minorities further down the pipeline – in higher education, in early careers, and for STEM academics and professionals.”

“Increasing women and minority participation in the STEM economy will keep the United States at the forefront of scientific discovery and technological innovation in the 21st century,” said Senator Markey. “The diversity of STEM professionals will help fuel the diversity of discoveries in science, technology, engineering and math. For our future scientific endeavors to produce the next generation of life-changing results, we need to ensure that our universities, laboratories and research institutions reflect the rich diversity of our nation and continue to receive the support that fosters breakthroughs and helps maintain American leadership in science and technology.”

“If we’re serious about empowering more young women and communities of color to take on STEM careers and compete in the 21st century economy, we need to ramp up our research efforts to identify and share best practices so that we can diversify the next generation of STEM professionals,” said Senator Murray. “STEM skills are so important for Washington state’s economy, so making these fields more inclusive will ultimately strengthen our workforce and our economy in the years to come.”

“By expanding access to STEM disciplines in schools and sharing best practices for recruitment and retention in STEM careers, we can help more women and minorities become engaged in science, technology, engineering and math, boosting economic success and strengthening America’s competitiveness in the 21st-century global economy,” said Senator Peters. “The STEM Opportunities Act of 2016 will improve inclusion of women and minorities in STEM fields by tapping into and fostering their talents.”

The American Association for University of Women, American Women in Science, Girls, Inc., MAES- Latinos in Science and Engineering, Maui Economic Development Board, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Society for Women Engineers, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center support the STEM Opportunities Act.

“When we reduce barriers that deter women and other underrepresented minorities from pursuing careers in STEM fields, American businesses get a leg up on the rest of the world. The STEM Opportunities Act will open doors for a more diverse science community, and in so doing help spur innovation and increase our global competitiveness,” said Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations at American Association of University Women. “Any serious attempt to modernize our science workforce and our nation’s science priorities is incomplete without this measure.

“In Hawaii, high-paying STEM jobs are boosting our island economy,” said Leslie Wilkins, Vice President, of the Maui Economic Development Board and Director of the Women in Technology Project. “To grow the education to workforce pipeline needed to keep up with STEM job demand, our Women in Technology initiative continues to engage girls and women who are under-represented in technology fields. WIT’s hands-on STEM curriculum, training, mentoring and internship programs have had a significant impact statewide but still need ongoing support.  Mahalo to Senator Hirono for introducing the STEM Opportunities Act, a comprehensive bill that could strengthen our efforts, as well as others throughout Hawaii and the nation.”

“Investing in STEM is an investment in our nation’s future, and it is imperative that women and people of color are represented and empowered to succeed in these fields. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are underrepresented in STEM leadership roles, and despite stereotypes, some AAPI subgroups are underrepresented in STEM overall. Disaggregated data on AAPIs at institutions of higher education and federal science agencies will highlight the need for more investment in AAPIs in STEM fields, and this legislation would benefit all women and people of color in STEM. Senator Hirono has been a strong advocate for STEM inclusion, and we also thank her for her ongoing leadership on behalf of AAPI communities in all areas,” said National Council of Asian Pacific Americans National Director Christopher Kang.

“Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) enthusiastically supports the STEM Opportunities Act of 2016 and applauds its sponsors for their efforts.  Improving data collection, research and sharing best practices across federal science agencies and institutions of higher education to address systemic factors impeding the inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM fields are all key elements in the Nation’s interest.  The PAESMEM awards are particularly essential in bringing all groups into STEM; SACNAS was a PAESMEM recipient in 2004 and 20 of SACNAS’ members have received PAESMEM awards.   In order to keep our nation competitive in science and engineering, such legislation as this Act is essential. As classical Clayton Christensen ‘disruptive thinking’ implies, helping the unserved and underserved—women and underrepresented minorities in STEM in this case—enables the greatest movement forward. SACNAS has over 6,000 paid members and serves a larger constituency of over 18,000—over half of whom are females—with particular emphasis on minorities underrepresented in STEM,” said Robert E. Barnhill, Ph.D, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Vice President, Science Policy & Strategic Initiatives.

“SEARAC commends Senator Hirono’s proposed STEM Opportunities Act for taking a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to strengthening and diversifying the STEM workforce through grants for evidence-based efforts, the creation of a federal inter-agency group to create policies that include a more diverse STEM workforce, and the collection of data to examine progress towards increasing STEM opportunities for underrepresented groups.  SEARAC is especially pleased that the STEM Opportunities Act collects disaggregated data for AAPI students — which will illuminate the disparities in access and participation to STEM opportunities within the AAPI community,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).

Entrance Fees Waived at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for National Park Week

Celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary – and the centennial of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park – during National Park Week, April 16-24. Entrance fees will be waived nine full days, and a “National Park Rx Day” will be held on Sunday, April 24.

Volcano at night

Visitors gather every night at the Jaggar Museum observation deck to witness the summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi

“There’s no better way to celebrate the centennial anniversaries of both Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the National Park Service than by inviting our community and visitors to enjoy the park at no charge,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Your park ‘ohana welcomes you to join us for a special program, reconnect with your favorite trail, or stay after dark to admire the splendor of glowing lava within Halema‘uma‘u Crater,” she said.

For Junior Ranger Day on Sat., April 16, keiki 17 and younger are invited to join park rangers in Kahuku for a fun day of discovery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will hike the historic lower Palm Trail, and learn to make traditional string figures called hei. Call (808) 985-6019 to register, limited to 25 participants.

On Wed., April 20 kupuna hula group Haunani’s Aloha Expressions will perform for free at the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On the last day of National Park Week, Sun., April 24, from 10 a.m. to noon, the park will host a “National Park Rx Day,” a community health initiative to “prescribe” time in parks to promote wellness. Join park rangers and Dr. Craig Kadooka on an easy one-mile roundtrip hike of upper ‘Iliahi Trail. Meet at Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai at 10 a.m. The first 200 walkers will receive a reusable water bottle and fresh fruit. Hawaiian practitioners Edna and Sam Baldado will demonstrate the heath benefits of kalo, and Ka‘ohu Monfort will share how Hawaiians use plants to heal and cure. HMSA will also provide a table with health information.

A hiker takes in the coastal views at ‘Āpua Point in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. ​

A hiker takes in the coastal views at ‘Āpua Point in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. ​

National Park Week event sponsors include Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ National Park, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016. The park provides countless ways for visitors to connect with and appreciate Hawaiian culture, active volcanoes, and native plants and animals. It was designated as a World Heritage Site (1987) and an International Biosphere Reserve (1980).

Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee Proposes Fiscally Equitable Budget

The Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee today introduced and passed budget amendments in HB1700 HD1 SD1 that reflects the priorities facing our communities, yet broadly represents and addresses needs across the state.

Capital

The Governor’s operating budget proposed to add approximately $335 million in general funds for fiscal year 2016-2017.  The Senate draft reduced this amount by approximately $215 million in general funds, resulting in a total operating budget add of $120 million in general funds for fiscal year 2016-2017.  The Senate draft did not include 100% pre-funding of Other Post-Employment Benefits, which was included in the Governor’s draft, and amounted to approximately $163 million dollars.

“The Senate draft of the supplemental budget balances priority needs with existing resources, ensuring programs and services can be maintained over time,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda (Dist. 24 –Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), WAM Committee chair.  “Our Committee once again identified ways to encourage efficiencies and better utilize base appropriations to do more with less, without unsustainably adding to our budget.”

The Senate draft reflects a significant investment in operating support for homeless programs, totaling over $7.3M.  These include the following:

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for the Housing First Program
  • $1,100,000 in general funds for Homeless Outreach Services
  • $2,000,000 in general funds for Rapid Re-housing Services
  • $450,000 in general funds for a new homeless shelter in Kakaako
  • $200,000 in general funds for a Stored Property Program

In addition, the Senate draft included operating and capital improvement projects to increase the supply of affordable housing statewide.  These include:

 Operating

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for the State Family and Elderly facilities’ operations, deferred maintenance, and repair.
  • (36) positions and $2,703,581 in revolving funds for the Multi-Skilled Worker Pilot Program in the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.  These funds will be used to repair vacant public housing units.
  • (29) positions and $1,125,584 in general funds for the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to issue more housing vouchers and secure additional federal funds.

Capital Improvements Projects

  • $29,150,000 in general funds and $6,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority
  • $50,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the Rental Housing Trust Fund
  • $33,289,000 in general obligation bond funds for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund

Working with the housing agencies in each county, an additional $59,612,000 in revolving funds was provided for shovel ready housing projects statewide, which will provide for the renovation of 850 current units and the creation of an additional 1,600 units for our communities.

The Senate draft also provides extensive support for hospitals and healthcare needs for the State, including:

Operating

  • $10,000,000 in general funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, to be used at the discretion of the Board in allocating to the regions as well as for any necessary seed capital for the Maui Health System
  • $7,900,00 in general funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation in order to meet the shortfall of the corporate allocation costs due to the Maui transition, which would have otherwise been assessed to the regions without additional funding support
  • $21,000,000 in general funds for an operating subsidy to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to continue to provide healthcare services statewide

Capital Improvement Projects

  • $160,000,000 in general obligation bonds is provided for the Hawai‘i State Hospital for a new forensic facility to house the high-risk patients
  • $5,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the purchase of two parcels owned by the Wahiawa Hospital Association, resulting in an immediate cash infusion ensuring greater financial stability for the hospital.  The intent is for the State to provide a long-term lease to the Wahiawa Hospital Association at a nominal rate.

 Other operating and capital improvement funding highlights include:

Department of Agriculture
Funding for efforts to support Hawai‘i farmers

Operating:

  • $500,000 in general funds for pesticide regulation expenses
  • (1) position and $98,800 in special funds for General Administration for the Farm to School Program

Capital Improvement Projects:

The Senate draft includes $107,074,000 in general obligation bond funds to purchase over 8,000 acres of agricultural land which will help support local farmers, decreasing Hawaii’s dependence on importing agricultural products and another $33,700,000 in general obligation bond funds for upgrades and improvements to water infrastructure systems statewide.

Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
Funding for programs that are sustainable and bolster the economy

Operating:

  • $30,000 in general funds for repair and maintenance for the statewide film program for Creative Industries Division
  • $100,000 in general funds for Creative Industries Division for Creative Lab Program
  • $150,000 in general funds for unmanned aerial systems test site for Office of Aerospace Development
  • (1) temporary position and $100,000 in general funds for Hawaii broadband initiative
  • $5,000,000 in general funds and $5,000,000 in revolving funds for HI Growth initiative for Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation

Capital Improvement Projects:

Focused on reversing the brain drain, creating jobs, diversifying our economy, the Senate draft includes investments of $3,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to develop the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox in Kakaako, $5,200,000 in general obligation reimbursable bond funds to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in Kona, $6,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for infrastructure upgrades at Kalaeloa, and over $38,800,000 in general obligation bond funds for a Creative Media Facility at the University of Hawaii West Oahu.

Department of Defense
Funding to support and recognize Hawai‘i veterans

Operating:

  • (7) positions and $160,036 in general funds for multi-skilled worker team to provide services at the Hawaii State Veterans’ Cemetery
  • $500,000 in general funds for veterans’ memorials and commemoration events

Department of Education
Funding to provide student services support, transportation and libraries

 Operating:

  •  $10,000,000 in general funds for Weighted Student Formula for English Language Learners
  • $16,537,791 in general funds for Weighted Student Formula
  • $1,000,000 in general funds for classroom supplies and equipment for new facilities
  • $6,984,689 in general funds for Public School Transportation Services
  • $5,215,919 in general funds for Utilities
  • $200,000 in general funds for repair and maintenance backlog for public libraries statewide
  • Add $250,000 in general funds and $250,000 in special funds for Hawaii State Public Library System

 Capital Improvement Projects:

$358,175,000 in general obligation bond funds, $30,603,000 in federal funds and $4,349,000 in general funds for funding Department of Education projects including $30,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to address the cooling and air conditioning needs of public schools, $40,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for a new secondary school in Kapolei and $38,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the continued construction costs for new high school in Kihei.

Office of the Governor

Funding to provide staff support

Operating:

(2) temporary positions and $300,000 in general funds for Office of Military Affairs and Federal Grants Maximization

Department of Human Services

Funding to ensure social safety nets and improve IT infrastructure for better service delivery

Operating:

  • $6,000,000 in general funds for Preschool Open Doors Program
  • $4,799,926 in general funds and $7,664,177 in federal funds for preventive adult dental benefits
  • $4,294,333 in general funds and $3,343,667 in federal funds for increased cost of Medicare Part B supplements
  • $4,878,120 in general funds and $5,721,880 in federal funds for services to Medicaid recipients through age 6 with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • $8,000,000 in general funds and $9,383,746 in federal funds for Medicaid recipients with chronic Hepatitis C infections
  • $1,553,559 in general funds and $1,775,971 in federal funds for increase in nursing home payments by the Data Resources Incorporated Rate
  • $5,905,962 in general funds and $17,717,886 in federal funds for Department Enterprise System maintenance and operations
  • $770,000 in general funds for A-Plus Program fee subsidies for employed low-income families
  • $3,196,346 in general funds and $17,714,682 in federal funds for information technology for the Department of Human Services

Department of Human Resources Development
Funding to increase effectiveness

Operating

$250,000 in general funds for workers’ compensation claims

Department of Health
Funding to support healthcare services, assist in fight against Dengue Fever, address Red Hill Consent Order

Operating:

  • (33) positions and $1,777,362 in general funds for the management of the dengue fever outbreak and newly emerging public health threats
  • (3) positions and $88,362 in general funds for Red Hill Administrative Order of Consent for Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch
  • $2,829,923 in general funds for the home and community based services waiver

Capital Improvement Projects:

To continue to provide quality healthcare services for our communities, $31,982,000 in general obligation bond funds and $19,704,000 in federal funds to address critical repairs and maintenance for health safety needs statewide.

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Funding to provide support to ensure protection of civil rights

Operating:

(1) position and $25,388 in general funds for Hawaii Civil Rights Commission

Department of Land and Natural Resources
Funding for protection of land and wildlife, small boat harbor access

Operating:

  • $3,000,000 in special funds from transient accommodation tax to Special Land and Development Fund for various programs
  • $1,700,000 in special funds from conveyance tax to Land Conservation Fund for land acquisition
  • $400,000 in special funds for beach restoration
  • $600,000 in general funds for wildfire contingency Aloha+ initiatives
  • $250,000 in general funds for endangered species management
  • $1,500,000 in general funds for United States Geographical Survey study on Hawaii streams
  • (18) positions and $617,544 in general funds for operation of small boat harbor facilities six days a week

Department of Public Safety
Funding to enhance safety enforcement

Operating:

$869,165 in general funds for the Department of Public Safety Administration building and State Narcotics Enforcement Division offices

Department of Taxation
Funding to reinforce ability to bring in revenues for the state

Operating:

  • (9) positions and $503,327 in general funds for Investigation Branch
  • (2) positions and $69,462 in general funds for Criminal Investigation Section
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Maui
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Hawaii
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Kauai

Department of Transportation
Funding to support requests that are sustainable and targeted

Operating:

Honolulu International Airport

  • $402,500 in special funds and $1,132,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement
  • $252,500 in special funds and $682,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement

Hilo International Airport

$580,000 in special funds for airport seating replacement

Kahului Airport

$402,500 in special funds and $1,132,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement and other current expenses

Lihue Airport

$613,500 in special funds for routine maintenance contracts

Harbors Administration

$1,000,000 in special funds for pier and wharf insurance

Kauai Highways

$800,000 in special funds for replacement of bridge inspection equipment

Highways Safety

$517,000 in federal funds for highway safety improvement program flex funding

University of Hawai‘i
Funding to support UH Cancer Center, UH West Oahu

Operating:

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for University of Hawaii Cancer Center for faculty and administrative support
  • (4) positions and $197,604 in general funds for University of Hawaii, West Oahu Campus

Capital Improvement Projects:

Acknowledging the deferred maintenance and backlog of projects at our University of Hawai‘i  campuses, the Senate draft provides the funding for the full capital improvement request of the University and it’s Community Colleges by providing $224,925,000 in general obligation bond funds, $113,000,000 in revenue bond funds, and $5,750,000 in special funds and by granting the University of Hawai‘i revenue bond authority.

House Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Responds to Governor’s Proposal to Fund Department of Hawaiian Homelands

Capital

Rep. Kaniela Ing ((Kihei, Wailea, Makena) today issued the following statement:

“The Governor’s DHHL appropriation message to the legislature represents a huge first step in meeting the state’s constitutional obligation to native Hawaiians. Now the legislature needs to do its job and ensure DHHL’s operations and maintenance costs are covered so that from now on the proceeds from the trust funds are used solely for putting native Hawaiians back on the land.This appropriation also represents a test for DHHL as the public money being used for these new positions will all be a matter of public record and must be reported back to the legislature. This additional funding needs to be attached to a clear timeline of hard outcomes to reduce the waitlist and restore native Hawaiians to the land.”

Agriculture Workshops Offered in West Hawaii

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) offers two agriculture workshops with Zach Mermel this month at the Hawai’i Community College Palamanui campus in Kailua-Kona. Both workshops will be held in Room B-125.

edible plants
The Secrets of the Soil series is held on Saturday, April 23. Part 1 meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will explore the basics of soil biology. Topics include soil formation, types of soils found on Hawaiʻi Island, the dynamics of the soil food web, and fundamentals of soil testing at the homestead and farm scale. Part 2 will be held from 2 – 5 p.m. This hands-on session will teach participants how to make a high-quality compost and includes constructing a biologically active compost pile. The cost is $40 for Part 1, $30 for Part 2, or $60 for both sessions.

Edible Landscaping will be held on Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will learn how to transform their land into an abundant oasis of edible and multifunctional plants. Mermel will cover edible landscaping and provide hands-on experience in creating a basic landscape plan. Participants should bring an aerial photo or TMK map of their land as well as colored pens and pencils. Tuition is $55.

For more information and to register, contact CCECS at 932-7830 or visit http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/ccecs/.

Former Hawaii Superferry Renamed USNS Puerto Rico and Will Run Between US and Canada

The former Hawaii Superferry Alakai is being renamed by the US Navy to USNS Puerto Rico and will now run routes between the United States and Canada.

SuperferryAccording to Fosters.com:

High-speed ferry service will return this summer between Maine and Nova Scotia on a vessel that is smaller and faster than one that operated for two financially disastrous seasons.
Mark MacDonald, president of Canada-based Bay Ferries, said the company will operate a twin-hulled vessel under a lease agreement with its owner, the U.S. Navy.
The ship, USNS Puerto Rico, can make the 212-mile trip in 5 1/2 hours. The Nova Star, which ended service in October, took 11 hours to make the crossing…
…The Puerto Rico was built in Mobile, Alabama, in 2007 for Hawaii Superferry LLC and designed to operate in the Hawaiian islands. The federal government obtained the vessel after Hawaii Superferry went bankrupt in 2009.

More information here: High-speed ferry to run between Portland and Nova Scotia

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Presents 2016 Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members discuss opportunities and challenges to West Hawaii’s economy at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) 2016 Luncheon 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Mayor Kenoi testifying at the state capital.

Mayor Kenoi testifying at the state capital.

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union and Mokulele Airlines, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with county department representatives in a casual setting.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the mayor and cabinet heads. Issues discussed may include update on the Honokohau Harbor, housing and homelessness, healthcare and opportunities for economic development in West Hawaii.

In addition, attendees can also learn about new and existing KKCC businesses at the Chamber’s annual Business Expo, which precedes and follows the banquet. Times are 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-2 p.m.

General admission is $65; Chamber and Rotary members $55. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit www.kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

Big Island Legislators Secure $389.3 Million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Funding

Big Island legislators secured more than $389.3 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in the recently passed House proposed budget.

Capital

The proposed budget includes funding for various airport and highway improvements, Hawaii Community Correctional Center, Big Island facilities for Hawaii Army National Guard, monies for Big Island schools and Hawaii Community College, and regional community centers.

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

GENERAL

  • $55 million for construction of Kona judiciary complex (FY2016)
  • $30.2 million for construction of a new combined support maintenance shop for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $15 million for new housing and support offices for Hawaii Community Correctional Center
  • $9 million for lump sum CIP for Hawaii Community Correctional Center
  • $5.2 million for improvements and upgrades to the seawater system at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST)
  • $4 million for improvements to lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed project
  • $3.3 million for construction and renovation projects (Bldg. 621) at Hawaii Army National Guard’s Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $3 million for improvements to Kohala Ditch irrigation system
  • $2 million for infrastructure and building of a post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant in Kamuela
  • $1.6 million for improvements to the Keaukaha Military Reservation’s Youth Challenge Academy
  • $1 million for construction of a storage warehouse at Pohakuloa Training Area
  • $800,000 for construction and completion of Miolii Community Enrichment and Historical Center
  • $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST)
  • $150,000 for plans and design for the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center

SCHOOLS

  • $13.1 million for design and construction of a classroom building for Waikoloa Elementary/Middle school
  • $9.5 million for renovation of former hospital into kitchen and classrooms for North Hawaii Education and Research Center, Hawaii Community College
  • $2.3 million for covered play court at Kohala Middle School
  • $2 million for construction of a covered play court at Haaheo Elementary School
  • $2 million for renovations at Hilo Intermediate School
  • $1.5 million for track and field facilities at Honokaa Park for Honokaa High School
  • $1.5 million for construction of portable trailers for Hawaii Community College
  • $1.2 million for community food kitchen for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School
  • $1 million for the transition from Keaau Elementary School to Keonepoko Elementary School
  • $735,000 for improvements to covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School
  • $511,000 for electrical upgrades and covered walkway at Waiakea Intermediate School
  • $355,000 for access road safety improvements for Kahakai Elementary School
  • $335,000 to replace lighting and scoreboards in Konawaena High School gymnasium
  • $300,000 for additional parking at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $300,000 for additional office and storage space for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui
  • $290,000 for repair and maintenance at Naalehu Elementary School
  • $285,000 for a certified commercial kitchen for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences
  • $200,000 for covered walkway at Pahoa Elementary School
  • $150,000 for walkway safety lighting for Kau High School

TRANSPORTATION

  • $127.2 million for improvements, new training facility and federal inspection station at Kona International Airport
  • $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130
  • $8 million for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Ninole Bridge on Mamalahoa Highway
  • $7.9 million for demolition of Pier 2 shed and water tower and related improvements at Hilo Harbor
  • $7.6 million for a road maintenance facility near Mauna Kea State Park
  • $7.1 million for improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $4.2 million for improvements to access ways in and out of Kawaihae Harbor
  • $3.6 million for drainage improvements of Kohala Mountain Road
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $1.2 million for rehabilitation for Wailuku Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $1 million for drainage and rockfall improvements along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $1 million for replacement of Pahoehoe Stream Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $660,000 for the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension
  • $$550,000 for water lines replacement at Santos Lane and Nohea Street
  • 400,000 for improvements to North Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor
  • $300,000 for repairs to Pohoiki Boat Ramp
  • $150,000 for installation of runaway truck ramp along Kawaihae Road
  • $101,000 for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Hilea Stream Bridge
  • $50,000 for feasibility study for a small commercial airport in South Puna

OTHERS

  • $8.5 million for a multi-purpose processing facility for Workforce Development
  • $6.7 million for reroofing and improvements to Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center
  • $2 million for land acquisition to Hilo Forest Reserve
  • $1 million for feasibility study for a new University Hospital in Kona
  • $1 million for dam compliance and improvements to Puu Waawaa dam
  • $600,000 for land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka
  • $500,000 for an education center for the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission
  • $315,000 for design and construction of the Kailapa Community Resource Center
  • $100,000 for fabrication and installation of exhibits at Hawaii Wildlife Center

Governor Ige Applauds White House Decision to Select Hawai‘i’s High Technology Development Corporation for TechHire Program

The White House announced today the next round of 15 new TechHire regions, which includes Hawai‘i. President Obama selected the High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), an attached agency to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, to participate in the program.  HTDC has led the effort to demonstrate Hawai‘i’s ability to respond quickly to its growing technology workforce.

tech jobs

Obama launched the bold multi-sector TechHire initiative one year ago, to empower Americans with the skills they need through universities, community colleges and nontraditional approaches that offer rapid or flexible paths to tech training.

To kick off TechHire, 21 regions, with more than 120,000 open technology jobs and more than 300 employer partners are announcing plans to work together to find new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their actual skills and to create more fast track tech training opportunities.

“We fully support the president’s TechHire program, which will enable our residents to access accelerated job training opportunities and compete for higher wage earning jobs,” said Gov. David Ige. “The president’s selection of Hawai‘i as a TechHire region is a step in the right direction and supports our 80/80 initiative to create 80,000 new technology jobs earning more than $80,000 annually by 2030.”

HTDC has created a coalition of workforce organizations, employers and state and local government to develop and align training to meet the demands of employers.

“HTDC is committed to matchmaking employers and high-potential candidates by working with stakeholders to develop innovative training programs such as “coding boot camps,” virtual classrooms and high-quality online courses to rapidly train workers for high-paying tech jobs,” said Robbie Melton, executive director and CEO at HTDC.

“TechHire is an invaluable program to the training and development of Hawai‘i’s technology workforce,” says Matthew Sasaki, director, Strategic Business initiatives at ‘ike, a partner in the TechHire Hawaii Coalition. “Over the next few years the industries that we are in will see increased demand for technology trained professionals. TechHire, in partnership with HTDC, is key to meeting this demand.”

To learn more about TechHire visit:  www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/techhire

About HTDC (High Technology Development Corporation)

HTDC is a state agency, attached to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). The agency was established by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1983 to facilitate the development and growth of Hawaii’s commercial high technology industry. The state views high technology as an important driver in the diversification of Hawaii’s economy and one that provides quality, high-paying jobs for Hawaii residents.

About DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism)

DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

Hawaii is the State with the Lowest Real-Estate Property Taxes

The average American household spends $2,127 on real-estate property taxes each year, and residents of the 27 states with vehicle property taxes shell out another $412. Considering these figures and the debt-fueled environment to which we have grown so accustomed, it should come as no surprise that roughly $11.8 billion in property taxes go unpaid each year, according to the National Tax Lien Association.

property taxes
With that in mind, the personal finance website WalletHub today released its 2016’s Property Taxes by State report, which compares home and vehicle taxes across the nation and features insights from a panel of leading experts. A few highlights can be found below.

Property Taxes in Hawaii:

  • Real-Estate Property Tax Rank*: 1st
  • Vehicle Property Tax Rank*: 1st
  • Real-Estate Tax on Median State House Value: $1,405
  • Real-Estate Tax on Median U.S. House Value: $489
  • Vehicle Property Tax on Highest-Selling Car: $0

*Rank: 1st = Best

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/

Hu Honua Filing to PUC Addresses HELCO Misstatements

Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) filed its response with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to provide a project update as well as address incomplete and misleading information in Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) Status Report.
Hu Honua

The Status Report was required by the PUC in light of missed milestone schedule dates in the HHB power purchase agreement (PPA) approved by the PUC in December 2013.

In its filing, Hu Honua expressed disappointment with HELCO over not processing its milestone date extension request submitted more than 12 months ago. HHB requested the extension following a variety of disputes with its former contractor that disrupted the project’s construction schedule, and to provide the replacement contractor sufficient time to complete the biomass-fueled, renewable energy facility in Pepeepeko on Hawaii Island.

At HELCO’s urging, Hu Honua submitted a proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for energy purchased above the 10-megawatt (MW) minimum level for economic dispatch. Even with the price reduction, HELCO did not process Hu Honua’s milestone date extension requests, despite the fact Hu Honua’s pricing is delinked from the cost of fossil fuel, making it a natural hedge against future increases in oil prices.

HHB has invested $100 million to date in the biomass-to-energy project, which is approximately 50 percent complete. HHB has arranged full financing from its investor base and the plant can be operational in approximately 12-16 months.

At completion, the plant will be able to supply Big Island residents with firm, baseload, dispatchable renewable power at reasonable pricing, complementing intermittent resources such as wind and solar, and helping the state meet mandated clean energy goals.

In its filing, HHB asserts the value of the plant today to Hawaii Island’s electricity system is as great or greater than December 2013 when the PUC approved the HHB PPA.

HELCO’s threat to terminate Hu Honua’s PPA as a result of missed milestones was announced just days before parts of Hawaii Island experienced blackouts due to insufficient firm generating capacity; firm, reliable power is what Hu Honua’s bioenergy plant would provide.

Hu Honua’s filing to the PUC addressed incomplete and misleading statements in HELCO’s Status Report, including:

“Hu Honua does not have the ability to achieve commercial operation in the near future.”

  • Hu Honua has fully committed financing up to $125 million to complete the project, with $20 million having been invested since November 2015.

“Hu Honua failed to meet PPA obligations.”

  • HELCO’s statement appears to refer to the boiler hydro test date. Unlike solar and wind projects, Hawaii law requires high pressure/high temperature steam boiler projects to follow rigorous inspection, approval and documentation protocol throughout construction before successive work can begin. As a result of disputes with its former contractor, HHB did not have ready access to prior documentation needed to perform successive work, which resulted in disruption and delays to schedule.

“Hu Honua failed to justify a milestones extension.”

  • As early as October 2014, HHB alerted HELCO that its milestone dates could be delayed because of certain factors beyond its control, including the circumstances underlying the dispute with its former contractor.

  • In January 2015, well in advance of project milestone dates, HHB approached HELCO to proactively discuss revised milestones dates in light of circumstances. Throughout discussions over revised milestones, HELCO reported a need for pricing reductions as an exchange for milestone date relief. HHB revised pricing arrangements on three separate occasions—February, April and May 2015.


Hu Honua looks forward to working with HELCO and the PUC to resolve its milestone date extension request, along with HHB’s proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for amounts purchased above the 10-MW minimum threshold for economic dispatch.

A completed Hu Honua power plant will provide a modern, renewable, biomass fueled source of electricity that will complement Hawaii Island’s electrical system as well as provide between 100-150 jobs for the local community.

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy to Participate in the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s 3rd Annual “Hawaii on the Hill” Initiative in Washington D.C.

More Than 50 Hawaii Organizations to Participate in the Two-Day Agenda, June 7-8, 2016

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy will be entertaining, with his Poke recipes, culinary skills and joyful manner, some 1000+ distinguished guests that are anticipated to attend the 3rd Annual Taste of Hawaii event as part of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s “Hawaii on the Hill” initiative in partnership with Senator Mazie Hirono.

Sam Choy will be featured in Washington DC. Photo by Douglas Peebles Photography

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy will be entertaining guests in Washington D.C. at the “Hawaii on the Hill” event. Photo by Douglas Peebles Photography

“Sam Choy is a pioneer of Pacific Rim cuisine, and I’m excited to have him as part of our 3rd annual Hawaii on the Hill hosted in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. For decades, Chef Choy has been committed to sharing the culture of our state through its food, and is the latest local celebrity to participate in Hawaii on the Hill, joining Willie K, Amy Hanaialii, and Aidan James. Hawaii on the Hill has grown to be one of the most anticipated state showcase events because of participants like Chef Choy and Tiki Shark Art, who truly bring a slice of the Aloha State to Washington, D.C.,” commented Senator Mazie K. Hirono.

Mazie Hirono with Abbas Hassan and Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker

Sen. Mazie Hirono with Abbas Hassan and Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker

“It was an honor for me to get a direct invite from the Senator to attend this event. My cell phone rang and it was Mazie Hirono on the other line…wow!” he exclaimed. “I am so pleased to see that Poke, a true Hawaiian food, is making its way to the mainland in a big way,” he added.

“The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii is very excited and pleased to welcome Chef Sam Choy to this year’s Hawaii on the Hill initiative and, particularly, our Taste of Hawaii on the Hill event, which has grown to over 1,000 attendees,” said Chamber President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Having Chef Choy represent the Aloha State with Tiki Shark Art will add even more stature and a colorful dimension to our line-up of participants. This will be our third year in a row to lead this effort, in partnership with Senator Mazie Hirono and her team, and we’re looking forward to sharing Hawaii’s food, culture, and industries with our nation’s leaders, and other officials and representatives, again.”

More than 50 organizations from Hawaii are participating in the Taste of Hawaii representing made-in-Hawaii products and the tourism, agriculture, innovation and technology, manufacturing and military industries. The Taste of Hawaii is one of several events slated for the two-day Hawaii on the Hill agenda, which also includes a “Talk Story” hosted by Senator Hirono and a Policy Summit with Congressional committee members and other officials.

This year’s Hawaii on the Hill will take place June 7-8. For additional information, please contact Lori Abe with the Chamber at email: labe@cochawaii.org or by calling (808) 380-2605.

County of Hawaii Soliciting Proposals for Economic Development Grants

The Hawaii County Department of Research and Development is soliciting proposals for economic development grant awards in preparation for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Research and DevelopmentThe intent of the grant program is to support sustainable economic development in agriculture, business development, energy, film, STEM industries, and tourism. Proposals must address and support the program goals and objectives for the above subject areas. Proposals submitted shall be reviewed and considered for the receipt of funding to supplement existing or proposed project or program budgets for the applicant organizations.

All proposals reviewed and recommended for funding by the Department of Research and Development shall be subject to the availability of funds. Notification of the Department’s approval and recommendation for funding shall be made by June 30, 2016.

Proposal forms, specifications and special provisions can be obtained at the Department website at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/research-and-development/ or call (808) 961-8366. Questions regarding clarification of any information contained in the Solicitation for Proposals document, including all attachments, must be received in writing on or before March 14, 2016. The County of Hawai‘i reserves the right to reject any proposal.

Public Information Sessions:

The Department of Research and Development is hosting two public information sessions to explain the grant program process for potential applicants.

Special guest, Tim W. O’Connell, Assistant to the State Director, Rural Development, US Dept of Agriculture, will also be there to present information on Rural Development opportunities that may complement applicants’ projects and provide sources of matching funds.
Registration for these sessions is not required, but will be appreciated so that we know how many people to expect. Please use the links below to RSVP to either of the sessions.

RSVP for the West Hawai‘i Public Information Session Tues., Feb 16th, 1:30 p.m. WHCC Bldg. G

RSVP for the East Hawai‘i Public Information Session Friday, February 19, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. County of Hawai‘i Aging and Disability Resource Center 1055 Kinoole Street, Suite 101, Hilo Training Room

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) – has identified South Kohala as a priority area for funding. NFWF will award grants to address negative impacts to coral reefs and improve coral reef management effectiveness. Average grant award range $30k – $75k and matching funds are required: http://www.nfwf.org/coralreef/Pages/crcf2016rfp.aspx  or contact Julia Rose (808) 268-0479 julia.rose@tnc.org. for more information.

USDA Federal Planning Assistance for Broadband & Sustainable Community Development – Cool and Connected –will help community members develop strategies and an action plan for using planned or existing broadband service to promote smart, sustainable community development. Submit letter of interest to Ed Fendley at Fendley.Ed@epa.gov by Wed., Feb. 24, 2016 – include “Cool & Connected” and the name of your community in email subject line.

Hawaii Takes Part in Multistate Settlement Against Moneygram

Settlement to Provide Restitution for Consumers that Used MoneyGram to Make Fraud Induced Transfers

Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection, today announced a settlement with Dallas based MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc. resolving a multistate investigation which focused on complaints of consumers who used MoneyGram’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers. In addition to Hawaii, 48 states and the District of Columbia participated in this settlement.

Moneygram

Click to view details of settlement

“We believe that this settlement will help to protect vulnerable consumers from wire fraud”, said Levins. “Crooks routinely use wire transfers to con unwary consumers out of their money. Anytime someone insists that a money wire is the only method to transfer funds to them red flags should go up, especially if it involves a lottery or sweepstakes. No one should ever wire money to claim a prize. If you do, you’ve been scammed and you’ll never see your money again.”

The settlement has two main components. First, MoneyGram has agreed to maintain and continue to improve a comprehensive and robust anti-fraud program designed to help detect fraud and prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of these types of fraud induced wire transfers. The program must be documented in writing and at a minimum, must include the following elements:

  • Mandatory and documented compliance training for agents and guidelines regarding when an agent’s conduct warrants suspension or termination;
  • Suspension or termination of agents who fail to take commercially reasonable steps to reduce fraud induced money transfers;
  • A hotline system – telephonic and electronic- where employees and agents can report noncompliance with anti-fraud measures;
  • Sound mechanisms to evaluate actual fraud rates and consumer losses from fraud induced money transfers in order to utilize that information to improve compliance; and
  • Continued enhancement of technology solutions, including its Anti-Fraud Alert System (AFAS).

Second, MoneyGram has agreed to pay a total of 13 million dollars to the states to fund a nationwide consumer restitution program and for the states’ costs and fees. Hawaii’s portion of the settlement will be $85,000.

The settlement provides for an independent third party settlement administrator who will review MoneyGram records and send notices regarding restitution to all consumers who are eligible to receive restitution under this settlement. Generally, consumers who are eligible for restitution previously filed complaints with MoneyGram between July 1, 2008, and August 31, 2009, regarding fraud induced transfers sent from the U.S. to foreign countries other than Canada.

More information about this settlement is available at the Settlement Administrator’s website: www.MoneyGramSettlement.com/.

In addition to Hawaii, the following states participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Hawaii Parks and Recreation Seeks to Hire Adults for Temporary Summer Fun Jobs

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation is seeking to hire adults for temporary summer jobs working with keiki who attend its 2016 Summer Fun Program.

Summer Fun

Summer Fun activity aides and activity technicians will earn $11 per hour and $14 per hour, respectively. Applicants will be asked in which districts they prefer to work, although enrollment levels and program needs will determine the recreation sites used for 2016 Summer Fun activities.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of employment, possess current First Aid certification, submit a completed Summer Fun application, and be available to work May 31 through July 15, 2016. Summer Fun starts June 6 following a mandatory four-day training period for all temporary employees.

Summer Fun applications are available online at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pr-recreation, the Department’s main office at 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 6 in Hilo, the Recreation Division Office at 799 Pi‘ilani Street in Hilo, and various County gymnasiums located around the island.

Completed applications must be filed with the Recreation Division or postmarked by Tuesday, February 16.  For more information about the Department of Parks and Recreation’s 2016 Summer Fun Program job opportunities, please contact the Recreation Division at 961-8740.

Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org