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The Big Picture

Steve and his daughter, Aliya, love
climbing windy Olomana

I love hiking because of what I feel and see. Hikes challenge my body, but, more important, the scenery revives my spirit and invigorates my mind. The views from high places force my mind out of narrow corridors into grander visions.

While on flat ground, I have spent much of the six months since I took this job trying to determine the big issues facing Hawaii’s businesses and the local economy. I have sought the grand view by looking beyond everyday concerns and talking with lots of people: business and nonprofit leaders, politicians, working people, colleagues, friends and family. This was not an academic exercise: I wanted to know the most important issues so I could focus our coverage on them.

The eight topics that emerged should come as no surprise. People in Hawaii have been discussing and disagreeing on these issues for decades. I don’t presume that I will resolve them in the pages of this magazine. My goal is more modest: To help people understand the facts, to give perspective and to help stimulate a community conversation about what to do next. The issues are:

• How can Hawaii companies succeed in the local, national and global economies, while preserving what is precious about our home?

• Should we try to diversify our economy beyond tourism, real estate and the military, while maintaining or growing these vital sectors, or are we just wasting time and money trying to diversify?

• What is the proper role of government in the economy and how well is government doing its job?

• Hawaii’s high cost of living is a major obstacle to owning a home, raising a family and making a decent life, so how do we create an economy that sustains and attracts smart young people and others who are discouraged by our cost of living?

• Which groups and people have power in Hawaii, both the power to create and power to simply prevent changes, and how do those power centers affect Hawaii and our way of life?

• How should we educate our people to become effective leaders, workers and citizens?

• How should individuals lead in Hawaii so their businesses succeed, their employees reach their full potential and Hawaii prospers?

• How can people advance their careers while enjoying a rewarding life off the job?

Within these issues are so many topics: energy, tourism, taxes, schools, the environment, innovation, volunteerism, families and much, much more. These issues are too challenging to cover deeply in a single article or even a single issue. Instead, we plan to take slices of issues and examine them intensely — without ideology or preconception. Inside are a few of those slices.

Please let us know what you think of our coverage and thank you for investing your time with us.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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Hawaii Business,August