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Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Congresswoman Hirono Announces Vote to Provide One-Time $250 Check for Hawaii Seniors

Media Release:

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono announced House Democrats will move ahead with legislation to provide Social Security recipients with a one-time $250 payment in 2011. The Social Security Administration is expected to announce Friday there will be no automatic Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for 2011.

H.R. 5987, the Seniors Protection Act of 2010, is expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote when Congress reconvenes in November.

“There are more than 160,000 seniors in the State of Hawaii who receive Social Security benefits. As a cosponsor of this measure, I strongly support Congress’ efforts to enact this one-time $250 payment to seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities to help them make ends meet,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

Island Internet Service and the Federal Universal Service Fund

I’ve complained about our internet service for quite some time and I’m starting to see the root of the problem.  I just learned about the “Federal Universal Service Fund” that is applied to all phone bills… including CELL PHONE BILLS:

Yes... $1.35 each month!!!

Puna is a rural district here on the Big Island and quite frankly it would cost too much to get us up to speed like the rest of the civilization.

I myself am still having sporadic service and I never know when I turn my computer on whether I will have service or not.

The Washington Times posted the following article: Internet Island Plugs into politcs… Taxpayers on the hook for rural high-speed bailout where it states:

…The Universal Service Fund (USF) is that pesky tax on your phone bill that subsidizes connections for rural or lower-income households. The multibillion-dollar fund has caught enormous flak over the years for waste, fraud and abuse. And amid an ongoing and much-needed debate in Congress on how to reform the USF, the Federal Communications Commission is set to rule any day on the future of one small, politically connected company that built its entire business around receiving these taxpayer funds.

Back in 1995, Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. won a no-bid contract from Hawaii to be the exclusive provider of telecom service on the Hawaiian homelands for native Hawaiians. Soon after, the company secured a $400 million low-interest, taxpayer-backed loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service. When the Agriculture Department program suspended funding a few years later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quietly ruled in May 2005 that Sandwich Isles was eligible to receive up to $400 million in federal USF support…

…Sandwich Isles is poised to go into bankruptcy if the FCC doesn’t approve its Hawaii high-speed bailout. But an FCC decision that pours more taxpayer money into the company would continue this anti-free-market trend. Virtually all of the few customers Sandwich Isles serves can switch to other mobile or satellite broadband options…

More Here

Do I expect Puna to get decent internet speeds anytime soon… no.  Have I thought about switching to a mobile or satellite plan… yes.  But I will still have to pay that damn Universal Service Fund and in some folks case we pay more then once for multiple phones and a land line.