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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, March 27, 2003

Second City offers economic solution

By Richard Castillo
Professor of psychology at UH-West O'ahu

The Iraq war will no doubt cause a downturn in tourism and a slowdown in our local economy.

In the late 1980s, as the last sugar plantations closed, many people were concerned about the loss of jobs and the effects on the local economy. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese bubble burst. Next the Gulf War pushed the tourist industry and our state's economy even further into the doldrums.

Also occurring during the 1990s was the development of the Second City on the 'Ewa Plain. It turned out that the closure of the plantations and the opening up of thousands of acres of cane lands for urban development was the best thing that could have happened. Miles of sugar cane were replaced by thousands of new homes, new roads, new schools, new shopping centers and hundreds of new small businesses creating thousands of new jobs.

This massive urban development was the economic engine that kept the island's economy afloat during otherwise bleak times. The Second City does not get enough credit for this.

In the tough times ahead, the Second City can again play a key role in our economic recovery. The Second City is only partially built. Much land still awaits development. This will take new investment and more people moving into the area.

Two bills before the Legislature can ensure the continued development of the Second City and provide a needed economic stimulus for O'ahu and the state. The first provides a tax credit for the construction of an aquarium at Ko Olina. The second provides revenue bonds for the construction of a new University of Hawai'i campus in Kapolei.

The Ko Olina aquarium requires no debt financing and should stimulate the building of large new resort developments, including hotels and condominiums. These would provide new construction jobs and thousands of new permanent positions.

A new UH campus would make the Second City much more desirable, attracting more new people to the area. This would mean the construction of more new homes, new roads, new shopping centers, more small businesses, and create more new jobs. Also, putting 5,000 UH students in Kapolei means there would be 5,000 fewer students on the freeway trying to get to Manoa daily.