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  • Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Gathers to Hear from Governor Ige, Install New Board, Present Pualu Awards, Reboot Business Expo

    KAILUA-KONA – The chief executive for the State of Hawaiʻi, Governor David Ige, joined the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) for its annual meeting on Friday, June 24, 2022. The event marked the organization’s first in-person membership luncheon in three years due to COVID.  

    Wendy Laros, KKCC president and CEO, welcomed 265 attendees at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaiʻi and explained the purpose of the event – to gather the chamber membership, provide an update on the activities of the past year and install 2022-2023 KKCC Board of Directors. With enthusiasm, she stated, “Being together again is so powerful!”

    The meeting was sponsored by ALTRES, Goodfellow Bros., Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i Water Service, KTA Superstores and Waikoloa Plaza. The program included a keynote address by Gov. Ige, installation of officers and directors, presentation of the chamber’s Pualu Awards and the return of the Business Expo. Hawaiʻi State Senator Dru Kanuha, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth and other state and county officials also attended the event.

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  • Governor Ige addresses the Kona-Kohala Chamber membership June 24, 2022

  • After officially calling the annual meeting to order, outgoing Board Chair Mark Leong delivered an annual update emphasizing the marked growth in the chamber’s Aliʻi Circle enhanced member program, a special thanks to the Marketing & Membership Committee, and fundraising success with the annual golf tournament.

    With business advocacy, Leong shared the chamber’s three top priorities for 2022: housing, water development and astronomy. Adding that housing and water are new priorities, Leong noted, “Our position is to support housing projects at all inventory levels in West Hawai‘i. This includes the development of infrastructure to support more housing along with an emphasis on improvements in Hawai‘i County’s permitting processes.” Leong pointed out that the chamber’s Permitting Task Force added the housing priority to its objectives.

    Regarding water, Leong stated, “Our position is to support new water resource development, maintenance and protection in West Hawaiʻi.” He detailed that KKCC’s Economic Development Committee is taking the lead on learning more about water issues from the county and experts while the chamber’s Sustainability Committee will be addressing wastewater issues.

    Leong reinforced chamber’s long standing commitment to astronomy and shared, “During the 2022 State Legislative session, we consistently voiced our support for the University of Hawai‘i to manage Maunakea.”

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  • Mark Leong, KKCC Immediate Past Board Chair 2020-2022

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  • Installation of KKCC 2022-2023 Board of Directors led by Governor Ige

  • Shifting to the board, Leong recognized and thanked two out-going board members for their years of service: Past Board Chair Dale Suezaki of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Vice Chair of South Kohala Randy Kurohara with Community First, Aloha Grown and Creative Arts Hawaiʻi.

    Gov. Ige installed the 2022-2023 Board of Directors and Officers:

    1. Board Chair Dennis Boyd - West Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center
    1. Immediate Past Chair Mark Leong - Lex Brodie’s Fast Lube and Big Island Express Car Wash
    1. Vice Chair of Finance Hobbs Lowson - Bank of Hawaiʻi
    1. North Kona Vice Chair Sharon Sakai - Communications Consultant
    1. South Kona Vice Chair Pam Latinis - Venture Sotheby’s International Realty
    1. North Kohala Vice Chair Jonathan Mitchell - Parker Ranch
    1. Jane Clement - Hawaiʻi County, Mayor’s Office
    1. Samantha Collins - Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
    1. Vaughn Cook - Torkildson, Katz, Hetherington, Harris and Knorek – Attorneys at Law
    1. Mendy Dant - Fair Wind Cruises
    1. Tane Datta – Adaptations Inc.
    1. Farrah-Marie Gomes - University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo
    1. Jen Johansen - Cyanotech
    1. Clayton McGhan - Kona Community Hospital
    1. Nancy Sakamoto - Kona Commons
    1. Doug Simons - UH Institute for Astronomy


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  • Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) President & CEO Wendy Laros, Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Doug Simons, KKCC Immediate Past Chair Mark Leong, KKCC Board Chair Dennis Boyd.

  • Newly installed Board Chair Dennis Boyd addressed the membership by highlighting Leong’s leadership in guiding the board to develop and implement a new strategic plan as the organization successfully navigated through the pandemic. Boyd announced more in-person events are planned with monthly AfterHours events starting in August and the Employment Law Seminar in September. He emphasized the chamber’s robust committee structure and dedicated member engagement. He concluded with a call to action, “Let’s make things happen!”

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  • KKCC Board Member Dr. Farrah-Marie Gomes presents the Pualu Award for Business Innovation to Candee Ellsworth and the Keāhole Center for Sustainability for installing water refill stations in local schools.

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  • Board members Mendy Dant, Sharon Sakai and Pam Latinis congratulate Cindi Punihaole, director of Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center, as she humbly receives the 2022 Pualu Award for Environmental Awareness.  

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  • KKCC board member Samantha Collins presents the Pualu Award for Community Education.

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  • Nahua Guilloz, Jessica Kirkpatrick and Greg Chun with the Center for Maunakea Stewardship receive the 2022 Pualu Award for Community Education.

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  • KKCC board member Jane Clement (left) presents the Pualu Award for Culture and Heritage to Hawai‘i Community College-Pālamanui for the reforestation work they are doing with their Campus Preserve.

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  • Before announcing the 2022 Chamber Member of the Year, Ross Wilson Jr. paid tribute to Rockne Freitas, Chancellor of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges, who helped to make the Hawaiʻi Community College-Pālamanui campus a reality.

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  • Ross Wilson Jr. surprises 2022 KKCC Chamber Member of the Year Jacqui Hoover!

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  • Recipients of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2022 Pualu Awards from left to right: Greg Chun, Nahua Guilloz and Jessica Kirkpatrick of the Center for Maunakea Stewardship; Cindi Punihaole of the Kahaluʻu Bay Education Center; Jacqui Hoover as Chamber Member of the Year; Candee Ellsworth of the Keāhole Center for Sustainability; and Ian Hirakawa and Precious Mae Atendido of Hawaiʻi Community College-Pālamanui.

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  • Natalie Sagon and Michelle Conrey with ALTRES enjoy the first KKCC Business Expo in three years.

  • Before and after the luncheon, attendees browsed among 22 booths at the KKCC Business Expo. Participating exhibitors included ALTRES, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Island Lifestyle- Renee Kraft, Big Island Collision Center, Goodfellow Bros., Grand Welcome, Hawai‘i Keiki Museum, Hawai‘i Community College - Pālamanui, Hawai‘i Island United Way, Hawaiian Airlines, Jackʻs Diving Locker, Ke Ola Magazine, Keāhole Center for Sustainablity, Mr. K’s Recycle & Redemption Center, ProService Hawai‘i, Renewable Energy Services, Inc., S&G Labs of Hawai‘i, Sunrun, Torkildson, Katz, Hetherington, Harris & Knorek – Attorneys at Law, Viking Security, Waikoloa Plaza/Meridian Pacific and West Hawai‘i Community Health Center.  

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  • Susy and Duane Bullard, owners of Big Island Collision Center, enjoy the KKCC Business Expo.