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Big Island Big Ideas

Local leaders chart six ways to revitalize the economy

(page 1 of 4)

Photo: Mark Arbeit
Business and brainstorming on the Big Island are still done
local style, at a place like Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo
Gathered there recently were farmer Richard Ha,
Mayor Billy Kenoi, UH-Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng
and KTA’s Toby Taniguchi.

“We’re a big island but a small community. That’s what makes Hawaii Island unique. It’s what binds the people and it’s what will get us through this recession. Not, no can. Can!”

Mayor Billy Kenoi’s confidence is shared by a host of other Big Island leaders. Where outsiders see a crippled tourism industry, high unemployment and reduced real estate investment, these local leaders see lots of big projects starting or on the horizon, a community consensus that is stronger than ever, and an abundance of visionary but realistic ideas.

“Some people might call Hilo the sleepy town, but I assure you, we’re not sleeping,” says Rose Tseng, chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. In fact, Tseng says the Big Island is bustling with exciting initiatives that will improve and diversify its economy – and the state’s – forever. She and others cite potential growth in science, technology, renewable energy, construction, tourism and, perhaps most important, education – all of which they say will make the Big Island a great place to live instead of just a great place to visit. Residents understand the challenges – too little capital, too much red tape and differing visions – but they also realize what is at stake.

Kenoi, for example, loves the Big Island and says he’ll never leave, but fears his three young children will not feel the same way. He wants to make sure they have reasons to stay. The following pages contain six ideas from a dozen Big Island leaders about how to turn the Big Island into a place that those children will always want to call home.

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.

Old to new | New to old
Nov 7, 2009 03:09 pm
 Posted by  Jeanie at Dolphin Journeys

I am fortunate to work for a smart employer who recognizes economies go up and go down, and prepared for the low times by saving. We are not as busy as before, but we are still taking visitors to make spectacular memories of swimming with dolphins in Kona. We use social media and other advertising to keep people contacting us. We keep loving the lives we live and that attracts attention. Keep the aloha up and it all works out.

Apr 17, 2010 01:16 pm
 Posted by  Brentski

Where are the "Big Ideas" as suggested by the title of this story. Seems like every day stuff to me. Just saying........

Oct 23, 2010 03:22 pm
 Posted by  konalani

I KNOW marriages/unions or honeymoons in Hawaii are a leading source of economic income and advantage to the state and businesses alike. I saw a GOP attack flier on Denny Coffman (D) for his supporting of “Civil Unions”. Any unions in Hawaii are an economic advantage. This is the feeling of every business I have spoken too. We don’t discriminate and additional business would be welcome. Denny Coffman supports ALL unions here in Hawaii.

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