• 2023 KKCC Annual Membership Luncheon

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  • Record Crowd Attends Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Luncheon to Hear from Governor Green, Install New Board, Present Pualu Awards, Browse Business Expo


    KAILUA-KONA— Hawai‘i Island’s Dr. Josh Green joined the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) as the ninth governor of the State of Hawai‘i at its annual Membership Luncheon Thursday, June 22. The event boasted a record attendance of 334 who gathered at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.


    Wendy Laros, KKCC president and CEO, said the purpose of the event is to recap the organization’s activities of the past year, install 2023-24 KKCC Board of Directors and recognize chamber members who demonstrate leadership and service with prestigious Pualu Awards.


    “Today is a time to celebrate!” Laros proclaimed.


    The meeting was sponsored by ALTRES, Goodfellow Bros., Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i Water Service, KTA Super Stores and Waikoloa Plaza. The event also included the Chamber’s Business Expo with 39 exhibitors.


    In addition to Gov. Green, distinguished guests included U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono West Hawai‘i Field Representative Ross Wilson Jr.; Outgoing Commander LTC Kevin Cronin and Incoming Commander LTC Timothy Alvarado of the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area, State of Hawai‘i Representatives Nicole Lowen, David Tarnas, Kirstin Kahaloa and Mark Nakashima; plus county officials and educators.


  • Kona-Kohala Chamber gathers for Annual Membership Luncheon 2023
  • The Kona-Kohala Chamber gathers for its 2023 Annual Membership Luncheon on June 22 at the Fairmont Orchid with special guest Governor Josh Green, M.D.

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  • KKCC 2023 Annual Membership Luncheon keynote speaker Governor Josh Green, M.D.


    Gov. Green opened his keynote recalling his tenure serving as a physician on Hawai‘i Island, explaining how he learned about the local culture and saw the challenges of residents.


    “What you see me doing today are the result of those months and years working in the community,” he emphasized. Gov. Green said his time caring for island residents has shaped his solutions to problems while providing a practical model for getting things done.


    Addressing the state’s health care worker shortage, Gov. Green formed the Hawai‘i Health Corp. to offer loan forgiveness for any care provider who comes here to practice while working off their medical school debt. The allocated $30M “will work right away for 700 health care workers.”


    Saying the healthcare system itself needs help, Green detailed $30M, plus a $43M Federal match, to fund professional reimbursement for Medicaid providers. He added his administration and the legislature is getting West Hawai‘i hospitals money they need, citing $18M for Kona Community Hospital and $21.2M for Samuel Mahelona Hospital in Kapa‘a.


    Regarding housing, the governor stated Hawai‘i has a 50,000-unit housing deficit complicated by infrastructure issues. He stressed the lack of housing impairs the state’s ability to house needed health care workers and teachers. To fast track building, Gov. Green will use emergency measures to cut red tape.


    “I’m rethinking taxes, to help our low-income families” he remarked, saying his Green Affordability Plan provides historic tax relief for Hawai‘i’s low-income families.


    Focusing on the need for Hawai‘i to become involved with the latest energy technologies, the governor said the state applied for a $2.2B grant to become a hydrogen hub. He applauded the new Waikoloa solar project as helping Hawai‘i meet its green energy goals while lowering the costs for Hawai‘i residents.  


  • Kona-Kohala Chamber Board of Directors with Governor Green 2023
  • KKCC newly installed Board of Directors with Governor Green at the 2023 Annual Membership Luncheon on June 22 at the Fairmont Orchid. From left to right: Chair Dennis Boyd, Nancy Sakamoto, Clayton McGhan, Doug Simons, Farrah-Marie Gomes, Mendy Dant, Governor Josh Green, M.D., Vaughn Cook, Jonathan Mitchell, Jane Clement, Nick Adler, Mark Leong, Hobbs Lowson, Jen Johansen and Wendy Laros.


    After officially calling the annual meeting to order, KKCC Board Chair Dennis Boyd delivered an annual update emphasizing the Chamber has returned to a full, pre-pandemic event schedule. He personally thanked all the committee chairs and committee members for their dedication in “being the backbone of our organization.”


    Boyd recognized Chair Ross Wilson of the Economic Development Committee, Chair Jacqui Hoover of the Government Affairs Committee, Chair Pam Latinis of the Golf Committee, Chair Judy Donovan of the Health & Wellness Committee, Chair Michelle Conrey of the Marketing & Membership Committee, Chair Teri Leicher of the Sustainability Committee and Dr. Farrah-Marie Gomes, chair of the Education & Workforce Development Committee, which is working on a new West Hawai‘i Workforce Needs Assessment.


    As chair of KKCC’s Permitting and Housing Task Force, Boyd explained it serves as a conduit to Hawai‘i County administration and elected officials regarding permitting reform and housing development. “It’s the Chamber’s second largest standing group with 32 members, a far cry from the three founding members we started with in 2019,” he commented.


    Shifting to the board, Boyd recognized and thanked two, out-going board members for their years of service: South Kona Vice Chair Pam Latinis with Ventures Sotheby’s International Realty and North Kona Vice Chair Sharon Sakai, communications consultant.


    Gov. Green installed the 2023-24 Board of Directors and Officers:


    1. Board Chair Dennis Boyd - West Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center


    1. Chair-Elect Jen Johansen - Cyanotech


    1. Vice Chair of Finance Hobbs Lowson - CU Hawaiʻi Federal Credit Union


    1. Past Chair Mark Leong - Lex Brodies Fast Lube and Big Island Express Car Wash


    1. North Kohala Vice Chair Jonathan Mitchell - Parker Ranch


    1. South Kohala Vice Chair Samantha Collins - Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa


    1. Nick Adler - CBRE


    1. Jane Clement - Hawai‘i County Mayor’s Office


    1. Vaughn Cook - Torkildson Katz, A Law Corporation


    1. Mendy Dant - Fair Wind Cruises


    1. Tane Datta - Adaptations Inc.


    1. Farrah-Marie Gomes - University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo


    1. Clayton McGhan - Kona Community and Kohala Hospitals


    1. Nancy Sakamoto - Kona Commons


    1. Doug Simons - UH Institute for Astronomy


    1. Wendy Laros – KKCC President and CEO



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  • Miss Kona Coffee Shyla Victor 


    Before the presenting of the prestigious Pualu Awards, Miss Kona Coffee Shyla Victor took the stage to detail her pageant platform on regenerative tourism. The past Merrie Monarch Miss Aloha Hula competitor also performed.


    Board leaders presented the KKCC Pualu Awards to five recipients. These awards recognize businesses, organizations and individuals that work together for West Hawaiʻi in providing business leadership and community service. According to the Hawaiian Dictionary, pualu means “all together, in unison and cooperative.”


    2023 KKCC Pualu Award Winners:


    • Kona Community Hospital: Workforce Education Programs


    • HawCC-Pālamanui Culinary Program and La‘i‘ōpua 2020: Ho‘okahua Culinary Program


    • Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: Ho‘okupu Initiative


    • Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union: Deposit Day and Student Credit Unions


    • The Food Basket: DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks


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  • KKCC 2023 Annual Membership Luncheon- Chamber Member of the Year James “Jim” Kaapuni Hussey with wife Cheryl.


    In addition, James “Jim” Kaapuni Hussey of Kailua-Kona American Legion Post 20 was tapped 2023 Chamber Member of the Year. He was lauded for an impressive military career and recognized as a true champion of the chamber through his participation and volunteerism.


    Before and after the luncheon, attendees browsed among 39 booths at the KKCC Business Expo. Participating exhibitors included ALTRES, Approved Freight Forwarders, Atlantis Adventures Kona, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Island Lifestyle- Renee Kraft, Bishop & Company, Bonnici, Bottom Line Concepts, Casago Kona, Creative Arts Hawaii, Cuvee Properties Escapes, Fair Wind Cruises, First Island Realty, Hawai‘i Keiki Museum, Hawaii Boat Clubs, Hawai‘i Community College-Pālamanui, Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i Island Community Health Center, Hawaii Water Service, Hawaiian Electric, HFS Federal Credit Union, Hospice of Kona, HPM Building Supply, Humanity Hale, Ideal Furniture Hawaii, Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau, Jackʻs Diving Locker, Kona Salt Farm by Sea Salts of Hawaii, Manta Pacific Research Foundation, Microcom, Mr. K’s Recycle & Redemption Center, Mystic Manta, Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa, peopleready, Shawn Hiatt-Equity Hawaii Real Estate, Sunbelt Business Brokers of Hawaii-Brent Wenner, Terminix, The Food Basket-Hawai‘i Island, Waimea Yoga powered by Vasper and Waiola Direct Care.




    About KKCC: The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce exists to provide leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawaiʻi. Since 1968, this organization has worked to enhance the quality of life for the community through a strong, sustainable economy on Hawaiʻi Island.