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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2003

Will PBEC succumb to lure of Singapore?

The Convention Center symbolizes a goal of state officials to develop Hawai'i as a meetings destination. Two high-profile international conferences held at the center — the Pacific Basin Economic Council meeting in 2000 and the Asian Development Bank meeting in 2001 — were serious steps in solidifying Hawai'i's reputation as a place to hold business gatherings.

That vision has met with setbacks, including a decision by PBEC to hold its 2002 and 2003 annual meeting in Asia instead of in Honolulu as originally planned.

And PBEC's board has been considering moving the group's headquarters from Honolulu to Asia; an offer from Singapore will be voted on next month.

PBEC, founded in 1967, is a private-sector organization for CEOs and has 1,000 members. It has been based in Honolulu since 1992. It's certainly worth keeping the headquarters in Hawai'i, and Charles Morrison, president of the East-West Center, plans to make a case in Seoul for keeping PBEC here.

His pitch will be weakened by the fact that Honolulu apparently can't match Singapore's promise of free rent. That may be offset by the fact that many members from North and Latin America will find travel to Honolulu more convenient.

Thus PBEC will weigh a range of factors in deciding which location best suits it. If that decision results in a choice to remain in Honolulu, we'd welcome it.