Balancing community health and economic recoveryPosted on Jan 27, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
The real balancing act during the pandemic has been between the economy and our health. The fact is that keeping us safe—and making Hawai‘i a safe place to visit—is an essential step to restoring our visitor industry, reviving our small businesses, and re-energizing our economy. Our Safe Travels Program remains the only program of its kind in the country. At the same time, we worked hard to keep insurance rates down for small businesses, even as unemployment ballooned. And as the economy recovers, we’ll continue to make sure that our small businesses are brought along with the rising tide, through programs that expand our locally produced goods and services, support business innovations, back local manufacturers, and fund low-interest, small business loans. With federal funds, the state is helping small businesses through digital marketing and e-commerce initiatives, assisting more than 500 companies with training and virtual marketing events.
Hawai‘i also became one of the safest locations to film during the pandemic, as our film office worked with producers and unions to create a plan with strict COVID-19 protocols to resume filming here. People all over the world can now watch “NCIS: Hawai‘i” as well as “Magnum P.I.” We also know that keeping up is not good enough to be competitive. We must stay ahead of the game. That’s why we’re proposing to fortify the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and the Hawai‘i Convention Center, support Hawai‘i Small Business Innovation Research projects, and provide fuel for our business accelerator programs and manufacturing assistance grants. We’ll also launch a $56-million State Small Business Credit Initiative to provide capital for local start-up tech companies.
During an economic downturn, public works projects not only build critical infrastructure, but they also provide a shot in the arm to business, labor and the economy. For the last two years, Hawai‘i’s construction industry has led the state’s economic recovery, thanks in large part to our investment in public infrastructure. Those investments help stabilize the local construction industry and, with a record bond sale of $1.88 billion, this trend will continue. In addition, an estimated $2.8 billion from the federal infrastructure law is expected to further boost the development of transportation, clean energy, and our internet capacity.