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Ka`u residents talk story about economic initiatives

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona speaks to members of the Ka`u community. (Photo courtesy of the Lt. Governor's Office)

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona speaks to members of the Ka`u community. (Photo courtesy of the Lt. Governor's Office)


Speaking at a town hall style meeting last week in Ka`u, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona highlighted the Administration’s economic initiatives emphasizing that with residents’ support the state will emerge “stronger and wiser” from its fiscal challenges.

“Right now we have a government that we cannot afford,” Aiona told residents at the Naalehu Elementary School gym. “Our Administration is doing all that it can to spur economic recovery. We are not waiting on the sidelines for economic recovery to come to us.

“While we are working every day to address the immediate fiscal challenges, we are also keeping our state on the right track for the long-term,” Aiona said, referring to a five-point action plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs. “We need to be ready for when the economy turns around again, and let me be clear, it will turn around.”

To help the state’s economy recover from the global economic downturn, the Administration has been aggressively implementing a five-point plan:

* Investing in improvements to the infrastructure and facilities. As part of this effort, the Administration in December 2008 implemented a $1.8 billion capital improvement plan.

* Increasing tourism outreach and marketing. For example, the Hawaii Tourism Authority established a $10 million marketing opportunity fund, which is aimed at boosting short-term travel to Hawaii.

* Lowering business fees and providing tax relief. Already, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has saved businesses and licensed professionals more than $45 million in waived fees and assessments.

* Attracting private investment, especially in energy. 

* And maximizing federal dollars and partnerships. For instance, the Administration has secured $129 million in federal stimulus funds for education; $246 million for transportation; $6 million for shoreline restoration; and $10 million for energy efficiency & renewable energy projects. 

In closing, Aiona expressed confidence not only in the local economy’s ability to rebound, but also in the Ka‘u business community’s ability to bounce back from the current economic conditions. 

“We will come out of this,” Aiona said. “We will be stronger and wiser because of experience and leadership, as well as direction that the Ka’u Chamber of Commerce has provided for its members.”

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