Kona-Kohala Chamber Supports the Astronomy Industry on Maunakea
The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization with over 500 member businesses and organizations in the Kona and Kohala districts on the West side of the island of Hawaiʻi. Since 1968, our organization has existed to provide a strong united voice dedicated to strengthening our local economy and promoting our community. We stand together in support of astronomy, science, culture and environmental stewardship of Maunakea.
We place our trust in government with an expectation that the rule of law will be enforced. For the existing astronomy industry on Maunakea, normal operations must resume and people must be assured safe access on public roads to their place of work. For the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), we expect the State of Hawaiʻi and County of Hawaiʻi to provide safe passage for permitted construction to begin.
We must ensure the development of TMT and the continuation of the astronomy industry on Maunakea. Losing TMT would be more than the loss of a major Hawaiʻi telescope, it would be the loss of opportunity for Hawaiʻi’s future generations. It’s in the State of Hawaiʻi and County of Hawaiʻi’s best interest to continue to support TMT and the entire astronomy sector in Hawaiʻi.
Hawaiʻi’s astronomy sector provides needed economic diversity with a statewide impact of $167 million. Astronomy activities generate over $52 million in earnings, over $8 million in state taxes and 1,400 jobs statewide. During the construction phase, TMT will create 300 local and specialized construction jobs and once the telescope is complete, employ 140 staff. TMT’s commitment is to fill these positions with as many Hawaiʻi residents as possible and use local businesses for support services. Currently, the astronomy industry atop Maunakea has over $1 billion in infrastructure and TMT will add another $1.4 billion along with annual observatory operational expenses of $26 million. In addition, TMT’s annual lease will incrementally expand from $300,000 to $1 million when operational. Eighty percent of these funds go to support stewardship of Maunakea’s resources by the Office of Maunakea Management and twenty percent to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the benefit of the native Hawaiian population that it serves.
Hawaiʻi’s business community stands together in support of the astronomy industry and development of TMT on Maunkea. The State of Hawaiʻi and County of Hawaiʻi must act now to enforce the law on Mauna Kea Access Road so observatory operations may resume to normal levels and TMT construction can begin.
Photo: CFHT, P-A Duc & JC Cuillandre.