The September 11th attack
Kaua'i discusses economic pains
|||Residents offering ideas for economic recovery|
LIHU'E, Kaua'i Gov. Ben Cayetano met with Kaua'i political and business leaders yesterday to brainstorm and discuss ways to help the island cope with the decline in tourism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Though no major new proposals emerged from the meeting on Kaua'i, those in attendance said they were glad to see Cayetano show support and listen to their concerns.
The group discussed ways to diversify the economy; increase spending on parks; increase kama'aina marketing; and ways to help consumers and small businesses, such as getting banks to relax their lending policies.
As with other islands, Kaua'i tourism dropped significantly in the days after Sept. 11. Observers there say the declines have not been as steep as those in Waikiki, but the slowdown has rattled residents and caused businesses to cut jobs, reduce operating hours and lay off workers.
Gary Baldwin, head of the Kaua'i Economic Development Board, said the island's small businesses are reporting sales are down between 40 percent and 60 percent, while some hotels report occupancy under 50 percent.
Cayetano has called the current crisis the worst in state history, and has proposed to boost the economy through measures including spending $1 billion on public construction projects; a tourism marketing campaign; additional benefits for unemployed workers; and tax benefits for businesses.
The trip to Kaua'i was the first leg of a Neighbor Island tour for Cayetano, who will meet with business and political leaders on the Big Island and Maui this week.