President of Hawai’i Island Chamber of Commerce Statement on Pending Special Session on Honolulu Rail Project

Hawai‘i Island State Representatives and Senators

Re: Honolulu Area Rapid Transit system funding

Dear Representatives and Senators,

From August 28 to September 1 the Hawai‘i Legislature will be in session to assist the City and County of Honolulu with the capital for funding the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit system. We thank you for this opportunity to voice our concern and opinion in this matter.

We understand that the Legislature will be considering proposals including:

  • Maintaining the current general excise tax (“GET”) rate premium for applicable Oahu transactions through 2037.
  • Increasing the transient accommodations tax (“TAT”) rate for applicable services on Oahu.
  • Increasing the TAT rate for applicable services on all islands
  • Assessing premium GET taxes on a statewide basis.

The Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce strongly recommends funding the capital shortfall for the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit system by extending the GET for transactions in the City and County of Honolulu only. We note the following:

  • Uncomfortable as it is to point out, the shortfall is primarily the result of management decisions made by an agency of the City and County of Honolulu. Neighbor islands were not part of either the management or the process. Asking the residents and visitors of the neighbor islands to pay for this process gone awry is not reasonable. Services provided by HART will be provided only on Oahu benefitting primarily Oahu residents and not the residents of the neighbor islands. We believe any impact should be borne by the future users of HART.
  • A major argument against simply allowing the GET on Oahu to continue is that this tax is regressive. However, this argument glosses over several economic realities that businesses face every day. Taxes of any kind increase the total price paid by the buyer. Higher prices for any good or service result in some level of reduced demand – if not for that service, for other services where those dollars may have been spent:
  1. While we do not know the number of travelers who will choose not to travel to Hawaii because of a higher TAT – there is no doubt that at the margin some will choose not to come here or to delay a trip.
  2. Some of those who do come will find that they must curtail their spending while here in order to stay within their budget.

In either of these cases, the dollars spent on goods and services in Hawaii will be reduced. The ripple effect of reduced spending will be a reduction in employee hours (and jobs) absorbed almost exclusively by employees at the lowest rung on the employment ladder. In short, these employees will suffer by losing income much more dramatically than they would if the current 0.5% premium in GET taxes is maintained on Oahu.

Beyond this, there is the simple equity issue. Should we be charging those who have no vote (tourists) for services that they are not likely to use – simply because they have no vote? This is not the right decision.

  • Finally, the City and County of Honolulu – most affected by Rail – has stated firmly that its choice is to fund by extending the GET through 2037. If that is their choice, it is not clear to us why we should over reach to further manage their decision.

Bill Walter, President

Hawaii Island Business Outlook 2012

Hawaii Island Business Outlook 2012


Video by Big Island Video News:

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Presents: Cyber Threats Are Your Prepared?

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Honors the Hawaii Tribune Herald

Media Release:

One hundred twenty members and guests attended the 2009-10 Hawai`i Island Chamber of Commerce annual installation dinner at the Hilo Yacht Club on June 29th. The night started out with jazz entertainment by the Gregg Perry Trio. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald, a long-time Chamber business, was honored. Outgoing president Barbara Hastings of Hastings and Pleadwell shared her gratitude and insights before passing the gavel to newly installed president Mary Begier of Mary Begier Realty. Begier presented a plaque to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in appreciation of their coverage of community events, sponsorships and community contributions. Mark Miranda, Governor Lingle’s liaison, and Kevin Dayton, executive assistant to Mayor Kenoi, awarded certificates to HICC member Ted Dixon, publisher of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Members and guests also heard about the state and future of the newspaper business from HICC member Mike Middlesworth, past manager with the Honolulu Advertiser.  A video produced by Dave Corrigan of Big Island Video News was shown, illustrating the inner workings of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Kylie Alexandra, Community Planning Assistant for the EnVision Downtown Hilo 2025 Community-Based Vision and Living Action Plan, swore in the new board, which consists of the following officers and directors: Mary Begier, President; Michael Gleason, President-Elect; Jon Miyata, Vice President; Vaughn Cook, Treasurer; Barbara A. Hastings, Immediate Past President. One-year directors: Jeanine Atebara, Kurt Corbin, Charles Ensey, Stan Fortuna Jr., Stewart Hussey, Randy Kurohara, Karina Leasure, Linda Levine, Spencer Oliver, Robert C. Porter, Marcia Sakai, Steve Ueda. Two-year directors: Howard Ainsley, Charles Erskine, Judith Fox-Goldstein, Marco Mangelsdorf, Eugene Nishimura, Glenn Santos, Margaret Shiba, Alice Sledge, Mele Spencer, Art Taniguchi, Ron Terry.

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Starts Blogging

Hat tip to RJ Mendoza over at O/S Hawaii for finding out that the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce has started blogging and the key word here is “Hot Topics – The HICC Blog“.

Hawai'i Island Chamber of Commerce

I was stoked to find out that they personally pinpointed Tiffany’s blog as well as my blog out in only their 2nd post.  Honestly folks, this is a site that I have not set up and did nothing to prompt the following in the post “Business People – to Blog or Not to Blog“:

…spend some time checking Tiffany Edwards’ Big Island Chronicle and Damon Tucker’s Blog. Whether you agree or not with the posts, it will keep you looped into the information cycle…”

Now if the Waikoloa posts that I’ve been making are making people think I’m “On the take” or something… I’m sure this one will really rattle a few feathers.

Honestly folks… I wish I was getting money for blogging the posts that I get. Quite simply I don’t get money for the posts that I post. But if someone wants to advertise on one of my little columns or up top… you certainly are welcome to.

I will be following the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce blog and see if it’s something I want to link to in the future. I hope they keep it active.

Shipman Contributes to Kea’au High School Wrestling Team and Grad Night as well as the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce

Media Release

W. H. Shipman, Ltd. recently made contributions to Kea‘au High School for its wrestling team and graduation night programs; WHS also provided support to the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce to support education and legislative activities.

A kama‘aina family-owned company established in 1882, WHS has a history of community involvement.

WHS stepped in when Kea‘au High’s wrestling team was short $600 to cover its trip to the state Wrestling Tournament, held on
O‘ahu. The company also gave the school $1,000 toward the graduation night event that provides a safe celebration.

“Kea‘au schools are part of our immediate community and we believe businesses and residents should support them, through financial help attending events and participating in school councils or other ways. Each of us has a responsibility to educating our community’s youth,” said William Walter, WHS president.

“We also gave the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce $2,000 to support programs, particularly ones that help business ride this economic wave we’re on,” he added. “We need to stick together to keep East Hawai‘i as strong as possible.”

W.H. Shipman has 17,000 acres in the Puna District and is engaged in agriculture and commercial/industrial development and leasing.

As a land steward, the company holds a long range-view to sustainability and planned development for balanced community use.