There is no more important time to celebrate local small businesses than now, when the pandemic has closed so many companies and damaged many more.
That’s why Hawaii Business Magazine is moving ahead with our Best of Small Business program and the Editor’s Choice Awards that recognize and celebrate successful small businesses. We welcome your nominations here.
For the past eight years, Hawaii Business has partnered with the Hawai‘i region of the federal Small Business Administration to create a joint awards program. Profiles of both the SBA winners and Editor’s Choice honorees appeared in the May print issue of our magazine and online at hawaiibusiness.com, and both organizations celebrated the winners at a Honolulu event, Neighbor Island gatherings and at the state Capitol.
In fact, many Hawai‘i award winners have also received national recognition. Among the latest was in 2017 when Maui Brewing Co.’s Garrett and Melanie Marrero were honored as the SBA Hawaii’s Small Business Persons of the Year, and later named as the SBA’s National Small Business Persons of the Year.
We look forward to many more years of collaboration with the SBA but the Hawai‘i region office is in transition. Jane Sawyer, director of the district office for 11 years, retired at the end of July and a new director has not been named. The Hawai‘i awards program has not been launched as of this writing and I don’t see any evidence yet of a national awards program for 2021.
Improvising This Time
So Hawaii Business Magazine will push on alone. As with so much of what all of us are doing during the pandemic, we are improvising as we go along. We launched the Editor’s Choice Awards years ago with five categories to honor small businesses but have since added a few more. The list is now Long-term Success (at least 25 years in business), Innovation, Green Business, Woman-Owned Business, New Business (operating less than five years), Tourism and Hospitality, Health Care, and Finance and Insurance. Companies based in Hawai‘i with fewer than 100 full-time employees or equivalents are eligible. Franchises of companies headquartered outside of the Islands are not.
We avoided overlap with SBA’s small business categories in the past, but may use some of those categories this year depending on the nominations we receive: Small Business Person of the Year, Exporter, Family Owned Small Business and Young Entrepreneur (less than 35 years old).
We will profile all the winners in the print magazine and online at hawaiibusiness.com. I also offer this incentive to encourage nominations: We will publish the names of all legitimate nominees at hawaiibusiness.com and link to their websites. So if you know a worthy small business, please nominate it by Dec. 31.
CEO of The Year Micah Kāne
Micah Kāne, CEO of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, would be a worthy choice as CEO of the Year in any recent year. But in the year of the pandemic, Hawaii Business Magazine felt it was especially important to recognize him and HCF’s important work that supports hundreds of thousands of local people battered by the pandemic and shutdowns. Indirectly, honoring Kāne and HCF is a way to honor the work of all local nonprofits, which are playing outsized roles even though in many cases their own revenue, fundraising and grants have been devastated.
We have our divisions and disagreements in Hawai‘i, just as do Americans across the country. But we must recognize that our differences do not make us enemies – our differences should be discussed and debated and we must use our institutions and collaborations to keep moving forward as a state and a nation.
I don’t hear the phrase “We’re all in this together” as much as I did at the start of the pandemic. Maybe it was the elections season or maybe too many people thought it was an empty phrase. I never did. Besides, the elections are over – the voters and our democracy have had their say. Let’s keep working together.