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Made on the Garden Isle

Kauai

Photo Courtesy: kauaimade.net

There’s an old gag that says one of the most frightening statements to hear is, “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” But sometimes the help is welcome. One example appears to be the flourishing “Kauai Made” promotion organized and run — at least for now — by the Kauai County government.

“This is absolutely the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” says Beth Tokioka, who helped originate the program when she was with the Kauai Office of Economic Development. Today, she serves as executive assistant to Mayor Bernard Carvalho, but maintains a strong interest in the program. Kauai Made was founded in July 2006 and was based on a successful “Made in Alaska” program, Tokioka said. Today, it has more than 100 active members, ranging from well-known retailers such as Kauai’s Big Save chain to small independent producers of crafts, food products, artwork and more. Think everything from hand-made seasonings and rubs to fine-art photography.

The goal is more than simply to sell Kauai-made goods, Tokioka said, but also to stimulate Kauai’s home-grown economy. Vendors are encouraged whenever possible to use Kauai-grown or -produced materials for their final products.

“We want to reward those who reinvest in Kauai,” Tokioka said.

Those who qualify for the program’s distinctive Kauai Made sticker pay a $50 annual fee. The county spends $25,000 to $40,000 a year in support costs, a price tag that will diminish as the program becomes larger and more self-sustaining, Tokioka said.

“Sometimes in government we are better at getting in the way rather than getting out of the way,” Tokioka laughed. “I think this is one thing we are doing right.”

 

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