Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce - Hawaii Business Magazine May 4, 2021
Hawaiʻi Island Business Report 2021
The road to economic recovery is challenging, but businesses are optimistic as they take steps to reopen safely, and progress is made toward sustainable goals.
May 4, 2020 Hawaii Business Staff
Kona-Kohala Chamber - excerpts from the report:
“This past year, we learned that communication was a key factor to successfully navigating through such difficult times. We increased our communication to our membership to provide up-to-date information typically about government orders or funding opportunities. Businesses urgently needed help to survive and we could provide resources. We quickly went to virtual meetings which allowed us to address issues, seek solutions and work together. We typically run 12 meetings a month, between our board of directors and committees, with about 100 people actively participating. Our virtual venues provided a powerful platform for our members to voice their concerns and needs. This in turn is communicated in our advocacy efforts whether virtually meeting at the House Select Committee, delivering testimony at the State Legislature or meeting with elected officials.” – Wendy Laros, President & CEO, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.
At the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Laros has been actively advocating businesses and topics, such as broadband infrastructure. New this year has been the ability to submit remote testimony via Zoom to the Hawai‘i State Legislature.
“This has been a game changer for the neighbor islands,” Laros says. “I’ve testified in multiple committee hearings this session whereas previously I had not.”
“From government grants and loans to reinventing ways to connect with customers, businesses restructured plans,” says Laros. Businesses developed creative ways to meet customer needs, including online stores, virtual meetings and food delivery services, and Laros believes many of these methods will continue in the future.
“Tourism drives the economy on the west side of Hawai‘ i Island,” says Wendy Laros, president and CEO of Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. “This includes air travel, ground transportation, lodging, retail, restaurants, tours and activities. The industry also partners with suppliers and service providers such as local farmers, fishermen, entertainers, florists or wedding planners,” she says. Laros is also a member of the State of Hawai‘i House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness.
“Opening up travel with the Safe Travels Hawai‘i program has been key for our island’s economic recovery. Businesses need customers to survive and now our customers are back. Occupancy is back up, and visitors are out and about shopping, taking tours and filling our restaurants,” Laros says. “The best path forward is to keep up the good work, continue adhering to safety guidelines as well as government mandates and enjoy being back in business.”