• Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Future Focus Summit

    October 28, 2019

    West Hawaiʻi business and community leaders came together at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott on Friday, October 25th for a one-of-a-kind event to get inspired about the region’s future. This gathering was part of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) Future Focus Initiative, a two-year project that culminates with a report tilted Vision 2025 that will be published in June 2020.
    Wendy Laros, KKCC Executive Director explains, “The purpose of this initiative is to develop and implement a future focused research project and summit event while engaging existing and emerging business leaders in the region.” She adds, “This initiative was launched in 2018 during our 50th Anniversary celebrations. We established a Young Professionals Leadership Council to develop details and execute this event.”
    Sponsored by Sustainable Island Products, Friday’s summit included fifty representatives from a variety of industries including agriculture, aquaculture, healthcare, hospitality, professional services, retail, real estate, tourism, utilities and more. In addition, County of Hawai‘i, University of Hawai‘i and Department of Education representatives attended.
    Summit participants broke into smaller groups for a facilitated discussion led by the Chamber’s Young Professional Leadership Council. Questions included:
    1. What are the most important challenges your business is facing today in West Hawaiʻi?
    1. What solutions would you recommend to address these challenges?
    1. What opportunities or emerging trends would you like to see to improve the business environment in West Hawaiʻi?
    1. What is your VISION for West Hawaiʻi’s future?
    Laros states, “The people in the breakout sessions were very engaged in the process and shared important insights.” She adds, “After each question, the group prioritized the information and this data will be included in the Vision 2025 report.”
    Co-chair of the YPLC, Elizabeth Elkjer of Sustainable Island Products elaborated, “The information presented in the Vision 2025 report can be used as a tool to guide strategic planning, initiatives or programs for West Hawaiʻi’s business community.”
    Ilihia Gionson of Hiehie Communications and co-chair of the YPLC states, “It’s very important to take the time for a thoughtful approach about our future like we are doing with this initiative. We have a responsibility to the next generation.”
    Other members of the Young Professionals Leadership Council include Samantha Collins with Fairmont Orchid, Court Warr with Cyanotech and Michael Bell with Body Glove Cruises. The Future Focus Initiative Steering Committee consists of KKCC Board Member and South Kohala Vice Chair Jonathan Mitchell of Parker Ranch, KKCC Education & Workforce Development Committee Chair Dr. Farrah-Marie Gomes, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UH Hilo and KKCC Executive Director Wendy Laros. The Chamber’s Board of Directors provides project oversight.
    The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit member organization that exists to provide leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawaiʻi.

    Group photo of our participants of the Future Focus Summit.

    Ilihia Gionson facilitating one of our engaging breakout sessions.

    Teri Leicher sharing her ideas on the future of the region.

    (Left to Right) Teri Leicher, Jim Crum, Cindi Punihaole Kennedy, Tracy Yost, and Jonathan Mitchell.

    Co-chairs of the YPLC, Elizabeth Elkjer and Ilihia Gionson.

    Sunset view during the Sunset Reception at Marriott's Paniolo Terrace.
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