Hawaii APEC 2011: Positioning Hawaii for the Future

ABSTRACT: This U.S. Department of Commerce EDA Grant afforded Enterprise Honolulu (now Oahu Economic Development Board) the ability to formulate, develop and hold engagement training workshops for business and industry interests within the four counties of Hawaii. The community engagement meetings were conducted through a program designed to facilitate communications, information exchange, and business development between Hawaii business, government, community entities and representatives of the APEC economies.

The program identified communication goals and performance standards for all participants and provided the necessary tools to facilitate positive interaction with APEC counterparts.

The positive effects attributed to this EDA grant opportunity, included the engagement of over 300 local small and medium sized enterprises across the State of Hawaii, together with federal, state and county government agencies and the economic development boards. This is a testament to the importance of the "grassroots" outreach that these educational workshops provided.

A video was produced entitled, "What is Hawaii, What is Aloha?" together with the creation of the Aloha Connects website for businesses to use as communication tools to connect with counterparts in the APEC economies. Since the APEC Summit, there has been a growing interest from businesses to expand Aloha Connects and share the video to reach wider audiences worldwide.

Hawaii County provided funding to Hawaii Island Economic Development Board to showcase Hawaii Island at the APEC including a reception for the hundreds of international journalists and other media personnel who were in Hawaii to cover the APEC proceedings.  The reception featuring island foods, art, innovation and technology, and entertainment resulted in international coverage conveying the many aspects of the State of Hawaii beyond sun, surf, and sand. Implementation of QR (Quick Response) codes on displays also allowed attendees quick access to information on Hawaii’s many assets including other science and technology, as well as our abundance of natural and cultural resources.

Similarly, Maui and Kauai Economic Development Boards participated in APEC with exhibits, presentations, and on-site personnel to showcase their respective islands and resources.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The main objective of this grant was to seize the opportunity to strengthen and position Hawaii's small- and medium-sized enterprise participants (SME's) to create long and lasting business relationships and growth as a result of Hawaii hosting APEC 2011.

Many aspects of individual and organizational needs were discovered during the process of conducting the community engagement meetings, workshops and subsequent follow up with each of the participants. The overarching findings from these efforts revealed the common desire to improve and benefit with hopeful participation.

During these community engagement meetings, we learned much about the challenges facing participants, thus the process enabled our team to help identify various problems, gaps and symptoms, many of which were stemming from misperceptions and communication issues with organizations regarding what APEC actually would bring to Hawaii in the way of meaningful, lasting opportunities. Listed here are some of the key findings and areas of concern from the participants:

Problems, Gaps and Symptoms

  • Disconnection - people feeling alone and not knowing how to benefit from APEC
  • Time sensitive to APEC's time clock
  • Perspective to APEC's expectations and misperceptions
  • Struggling Businesses
  • Limited resources
  • Concerns on relevance to APEC economies - felt disconnection, frustrated & Oahu-centric
  • Absence of direction and relationships
  • A perception of ineffective communication and tools for communicating (from APEC organizers) to facilitate long term relevance for SME's

At the first workshop entitled, "Aloha Connects," held on June 7, 2011 at the Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium in Honolulu, there were over 140 participants in attendance from both the public and private sectors. The opening workshop was structured to share an orientation about Aloha Connects and the expected outcomes for the subsequent scheduled workshops incorporating the following long-term objectives:

  • Inspire Investment
  • Increase Exportation
  • Expand Visitor Counts to Hawaii

While conducting the workshops, this is what we did:

Qualitative objectives were:

  1. First, help every participant to experience their connection to Hawaii, so they could identify with the primary asset of interest for visitors
  2. Introduce the values of Hawaii with a focus on ALOHA which provides for connection
  3. Reveal the truth that every participant's contributions are what makes Hawaii unique and invaluable
  4. Give attendees an experience and confidence to build relationships with each other and with visitors, develop the business ambassador perspective to provide for the development of relationships and connections to Hawaii
  5. Give visitors to APEC and from APEC economies a web location to find relationships of interest by industry and location

What was found in the process:

  • Some of the assets and values
  • Creative and resilient entrepreneurs and employees
  • Hopeful expectations
  • People wanting to represent Hawaii well
  • People with a passion and purpose
  • Desire to connect
  • Creative ideas and products
  • Wonderful people and participation
  • A deep desire to build healthier relationships and connections with people from around the world to the people of Hawaii
  • Discovered symptoms and deeper problems of economic deprivation within our communities

From this, what methods did we employ?

Developed programs and objectives of not focusing on APEC week, but rather building the foundation for effective interaction with the tools prior to APEC week with the awareness that the true opportunities occur post APEC week. Assist every participant in finding their passionate story to effectively communicate to connect.

We created a nine-and-a-half-minute video, "What is Hawaii, What is Aloha?" prior to APEC, to be used as a tool for all participants to connect with individuals throughout Hawaii and in the APEC economies.

We created a new website entitled, "Aloha Connects" as a credible portal for businesses to reference when making connections to their APEC economy counterparts.

Since APEC, we have redone the video to have a worldwide approach beyond APEC and we are retooling the web site to be more effective for every participant, personalizing their connections.

We are continuing to receive requests to work with the website from Hawaii companies and individuals as well as continued requests to promote businesses and Hawaii with the use of the video. As a result of these requests, we are planning to conduct follow up seminars with participants throughout the state.

What is the future?

To build stronger relationships globally to export products and services from Hawaii.

"Aloha Connects" workshops were conducted in collaboration with Enterprise Honolulu, the State of Hawaii - Department of Business and Economic Development & Tourism, Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Kauai Economic Development Board, Maui Economic Development Board, the APEC Hawaii 2011 Host Committee, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Corporation, City and County of Honolulu Office of Economic Development, Hawaii Export Council and the Business Action Center.

Step grant

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii (EDAH) was contracted by the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) to plan, organize and implement three trade missions, the first at the Biotechnology International Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, June 15-21, 2012, followed by the Biotechnology International Convention (BIO 2013) in Chicago, Illinois, April 22-25, 2013, and the third, at Trade Winds-Asia in Seoul, South Korea, May 12-15, 2013.

The purpose of these three missions was to increase the number of export opportunities for small businesses from Hawaii in the following sectors: Biotechnology, Agricultural Products, Processed Food, Renewable Energy and other Clean Technology industries, such as Astronomy and Marine Engineering. Returning to BIO each year continues to strengthen Hawaii’s presence being known on the world stage of biotechnology and the broadening of market reach for export opportunities from Hawaii companies. Since the establishment of KORUS - the U.S. Korea free trade agreement on March 15, 2012, coupled with increased commercial airlift and investment interests between Korea and Hawaii, a compelling reason became apparent to create the first trade mission of this nature from Hawaii to South Korea.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Common Ground report is designed to provide a fact-based understanding of Hawaii agriculture and the challenges and opportunities ahead. Common Ground describes the entire local agricultural industry, including the farmers, scientists, suppliers, logistical support personnel, and local and international wholesalers and retailers. It also encompasses the range of agricultural practices in Hawaii, from organic and traditional agricultural practices, to the use of cutting-edge technology, forestry, large-scale farming, and biofuels. Common Ground dives deep into agriculture: a topic that is crucial for everyone in Hawaii, and explores its connection with Hawaii’s economy, and its people.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii participates in an ongoing commitment to advancing agriculture in Hawaii. EDAH works in this arena through public outreach, direct support to local farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers. EDAH also aims to educate the public so they can make informed decisions about topics that will affect themselves, their families, their communities, the economy, and Hawaii as a whole. One example of how EDAH acted as an educational resource is through the creation of the GMO Labeling brochure. The question of whether genetically modified (GM) foods should be labeled has been a topic of intense debate, with several states including Hawaii having introduced legislation related to genetically modified foods labeling. Although the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii does not take a position on mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods, EDAH created a brochure of frequently asked questions and has provided additional resources about GMO Labeling. EDAH, through its four member Economic Development Boards, held public outreach forums in each County to allow civil discourse on the subject of GMO. These forums provided information that was considered by policy makers and legislators as they sought to address the subject.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Members of EDAH came together to assist in the creation of Act 73, which was aimed to improve food and energy security in Hawaii by creating the environmental response, energy and food security tax (EREFST), fifty percent of which would go toward the Energy Security Special Fund, while the other fifty percent goes toward the Agricultural Development and Food Security Special Fund. Act 73 ultimately aims to address and improve global issues such as climate change and deterioration of the environment due to the excessive use of fossil fuels caused by lack of food and energy security. Act 73 works in unison with the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. Through Act 73, EDAH strives to instill a sustainability ethic in the culture of Hawaii’s people. By working with each county, EDAH helps to make global impacts through local community actions.



EDAH also participates in various types of outreach activities, geared toward creating opportunities for economic growth and development in Hawaii. One example of how EDAH does this is through their participation in the Space Symposium. For more than a decade, MEDB has led a statewide outreach presence at the Space Foundation’s Annual Space Symposium—recognized as the premier global, commercial, civil, military and emergent space conference—in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Space Symposium has proven to be an effective venue to showcase Hawaii’s world-class activities in aerospace and astronomy to a national and international audience of more than 9,000 aerospace industry stakeholders and decision-makers. In addition to supporting Hawaii’s aerospace industry, MEDB’s presence played an important role in expanding our network of AMOS Conference stakeholders and partners. Of the hundreds of conversations held with Symposium participants, many expressed interest in the 2017 AMOS Conference and in doing business in Maui or Hawaii. The MEDB booth was approached by numerous small- to medium-sized companies looking to manufacture parts to launch and to help build a space tourism base in Hawaii. Many of the conversations at the Space Symposium were geared specifically toward promoting the growth and diversification of Maui’s aerospace industry.

Hawaii Island Economic Development Board has also participated at the Space Symposium with conversations that have led to interest and projects supporting Hawaii Island’s aerospace and astronomy industries. The collaboration of the Economic Development Boards statewide includes MEDB’s welcome of HIEDB annually to participate in the AMOS conference, which plays a strong role in efforts to expand and diversify the State’s aerospace, astronomy, and related science, technology, and innovation industries.

Kauai and Oahu Economic Development Boards also participate in efforts at both island and state levels to support respective and collective aerospace initiatives.  Additionally, each of the four Economic Development Boards holds seats on the Hawaii Aerospace Advisory Committee (HAAC), which leads efforts in development of legislation, policy and education in support of aerospace expansion and diversification for the State of Hawaii.