President's Message | April 2017
Aloha mai kakou,
March madness started off with the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the contested case hearing regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope Conservation District Use Application. The hearing spanned over a period of four months, with forty four days of oral testimony involving seventy one witnesses. By comparison, the first contested case hearing only required four days of oral testimony involving six petitioners. The next steps are the generation of transcripts by the court reporter, which is estimated to be completed around mid-April. There will then be a 30 day period to allow all parties to submit their draft Decisions and Order and Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
Currently, we can be hopeful that Judge Amano would be able to finalize her Decision and Order and Recommendations to the Board of Land and Natural Resources. After the Board of Land and Natural Resources have reviewed Judge Amano’s findings and recommendation, the Land Board will hold a hearing on the matter and make a decision on whether to approve or deny the issuance of a CDUP to the University of Hawai‘i to allow construction for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea.
Please be prepared to provide support for the TMT decision at the Land Board meeting. We will inform every one of the date and time, when it becomes available. TMT officials continue to emphasize that Hawai‘i is the preferred location site for the TMT, however recent announcements have made it clear that the Canary Islands would stand to benefit if TMT decides to leave Hawai‘i.
For the remainder of March, several activities and events stood out. Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele hosted a talk story session at the Grand Naniloa, with business organizations, government representatives, and several legislators on 8 March. The focus of the talk story session was the revitalization of the Banyan Drive area and Hilo in general. Several bills are under consideration at this year’s legislative session. Please be on the lookout for requests to support these bills.
One of the key talking points was the status of land leases with the State. Most of the State leases in Hilo are coming up on expiration dates and Senator Kahele and other Hawai‘i Island legislators are working on addressing this concern for Hawai‘i island businesses that are impacted by these leases.
Mahalo to Jim McCully for providing background and current information regarding these leases. Mahalo to Garth Yamanaka, the Government Affairs Committee chair for KIAA for putting together this very important and informative event for all who attended. Please stay tuned for further updates.
On 13 March, several of our Chamber members participated in the 13th Annual Journey Through the Universe Educator’s Reception, that was also held at the Grand Naniloa Hotel. Mahalo to the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai‘i for co-hosting this event with our Chamber.
The Educator’s Reception was all about expressing our appreciation for all of our educators from the Department of Education and the Gemini team that has, and continues to be, a major reason for the continued success of the Journey program.
This year, our featured guest speaker was Devin Chu, son of Newton and Roberta Chu. Devin shared some of his experiences with Journey Through The Universe and how his experiences got him interested in Astronomy. Devin is currently working on his PHD in Astronomy at UCLA. We look forward to a time when Devin and other astronomers with roots established in Hawai‘i, will one day return to Hawai‘i to continue their path in Astronomy.
In mid-March, a discussion on Next Generation Sectors Partnership was held at the Hilo Yacht Club. In short, this is an initiative that is implementing a business model for collaboration between educational institutions, workforce development and economic development organizations. A key feature of this new model is that it is industry-led, community supported, and must become sustainable over time. Agriculture will be the first sector that Hawai‘i Island plans to apply this model to. Jacqui Hoover, representing Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board will be the convener so stayed tuned for further updates on this initiative.
On 15 March, our Chamber participated in a talk story session with Sherry Menor McNamara, Chamber of Commerce HAWAII (COCH) President and CEO, and Glen Higa, COCH Vice President of Membership. We discussed several legislative activities that could affect local businesses, such as the defeat of the bill introduced to raise the minimum wage in Hawai‘i. Glen Higa also discussed COCH’s Laulima Partnership initiative.
If you have a business with ten or fewer employees, the Laulima Partnership offers free membership with COCH. Businesses with more than ten employees would cost $100 for annual membership. This Partnership is designed to strengthen the “Voice of Business” and to collaborate more closely with other businesses across the State.
Looking ahead, I’m excited to say that one of our Chamber’s past signature events is returning to the Grand Naniloa Resort Crown Room once again. The Administrative Professionals Day Luncheon and Concert (previously known as Office Professionals Day Luncheon) is schedule for Wednesday, 26 April. Entertainment this year, will be provided by Lehua Kalima and Shawn Pimental.
Mahalo to the event co-chairs, Anne Chung and Wendy Yamada, as well as the Administrative Professionals Day Committee, for spearheading the return of this much appreciated Chamber event celebrating all Administrative Professionals.
‘Ahui hou, Mike.