Big Projects, Big Island
There are approximately $3 billion in pending construction projects on the Big Island. Below are some highlights:
* The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, an 870-acre research and commercial center for deep-water technology, is located on the Keahole coast near Kona International Airport. The lab this year has installed a $22 million pipeline to pump ocean water to four new tenants. NELHA’s 26 tenants last year inject more than $40 million to the state economy annually and produced more than $3 million in sales. In addition, the research facility, through a federal grant from the Department of Energy (initial funding of $3 million), is developing the NELHA Gateway project – an education and outreach center for students and the general public.
* The University of Hawaii at Hilo and investors from Taiwan plan to build a $60 million replica of a traditional Chinese village, called the International Village Center. An environmental impact statement is in progress, and an architect from China was scheduled to visit Hilo in October. “This is meeting student needs,” says UH Chancellor Rose Tseng. “Hilo doesn’t have enough places to go. This project will make our university into a college town.” Construction is scheduled to begin as early as next year.
* It’s been over a decade since adequate rain has fallen on South Kona farms. Last year, the region recorded an average of 17 inches of rain. To combat the drought’s effects on crops, farmers have formed the 65-member Honomalino Irrigation Cooperative to propose irrigation facilities for parched lands, including avocado, macadamia nut and cattle farms. Two wells have been built for $4 million. The coop has proposed three more wells for $11 million. “We’re looking for long-term loans from the federal government, which members would pay off by buying water,” says Rick Vidgen, president of MacFarms of Hawaii.