Optimism Despite Tough Times on Molokai
Residents want businesses and jobs but also want to preserve their traditional way of life. What happens to Molokai may teach Hawaii about the costs and benefits of restraining development and creating a sustainable future.
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When Young Bros. announced in December its 25 percent rate increase for less-than-container-load shipments, it also changed schedules. Barges now arrive every Wednesday and Thursday on Molokai. “We have this back-to-back barge service and we have customers that don’t have warehouse space,” Haliniak says. Young Bros. has agreed to store the items at the pier, but it still means another trip for truckers to pick up goods. “[Young Bros.] tries to do some workarounds for us, but the bottom line is we still have to eat it,” Haliniak says.
Molokai Ranch boarded up the
“Our island continues to struggle,” says Danny Mateo, Maui County’s Council chair and Molokai representative. “At this particular point in time, with Molokai Ranch not being a player in this community, there’s a need for us to take a look at other options and try to continue to encourage businesses to look at Molokai.”
Many nonprofits and government agencies are encouraging Molokai’s people to start their own businesses. Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Corp. and Maui County’s Kuhao Business Center provide classes on starting a small business, writing a business plan and managing a company. After the ranch closed, the state Department of Labor’s Molokai office received a $389,000 emergency federal grant to train displaced workers. According to Alberta Patchen, manager of that office in Kaunakakai, about 60 of the ranch’s 98 laid-off workers have returned to work. The rest are in programs funded by the emergency grant.
Terri Waros - Kalele Bookstore
Patchen says only a handful of people have left the island to seek jobs. Unemployment benefits generally end after six months and a three-month extension. “When it gets closer to that time and they haven’t found anything, I think it’s going to encourage them to make a move,” she says. “Especially the younger ones. Some of them have built homes and bought cars, so they might be struggling to figure out what they’re going to do.”
Others try to start their own business on Molokai, but the road to entrepreneurship is paved with difficulties. Teri Waros began the process of opening up Kalele Bookstore and Divine Expressions early last year. Waros, a former general manager at the Lodge and Beach Village at Molokai Ranch, left the company before the shutdown.
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