Sustainability focus of economic expo
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
Landing government contracts, state energy policy, and creating economic opportunities for Hawaiian small business are among the topics at the Hawaiian Business Conference & Economic Expo going on this week at the Hawai'i Convention Center.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs in association with the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and the Hawai'i Procurement and Technical Assistance Center yesterday kicked off the three-day event titled: "Ho'okahua Waiwai: From Advocacy to Action, Building a Sustainable Economy to Support Hawai'i's Future."
The conference aims to engage both the Native Hawaiian and the broader business community to lay the foundation for economic sustainability, while creating long-term economic strategies that create opportunities for future generations to become self-sufficient, according to OHA chief executive officer Clyde Nämu'o.
Nämu'o said the program highlights OHA's shift in focus to advocacy and promoting systemic change in six priority areas: economic self-sufficiency, health, education, culture, land and water, and governance.
Admission to the conference is free and walk-ins to the break-out sessions are welcome. To download a copy of the conference brochure or for more information, go to www.OHA.org.
The focus of today's session is "Creating Economic Development Through Government Contracting," and tomorrow shifts to "Hawai'i's Energy Initiatives Support Sustainable Economic Development."
Among the scheduled presenters are OHA Chair-woman Haunani Apoliona, OHA Trustees Oz and Boyd Mossman, Gov. Linda Lingle, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, OHA Chief Operating Officer Stanton Enomoto, U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono and U.S. Census Bureau Regional Director James T. Christy.
Apoliona said this fourth annual business conference expands the conference to three days for the first time.
"Together we will look at economic development from the Hawaiian perspective, explore the abundance of contracting opportunities largely due to advocacy by our outstanding Hawai'i Congressional delegation, and examine the role that clean energy can play in revitalizing our economy and environment," she said.
Apoliona stressed an economic development approach that "places significant value on maintaining harmony and balance with the land and waters we love, even as we increase family income for Native Hawaiians."
Mark Glick, OHA director of economic development, said the conference already attracted about 400 participants, a solid turnout in a challenging economy.
Glick said the experts gathered offer a diverse knowledge including a road map through various government agencies.
"People that come will get an inside view of the process," Glick said, from small to large projects.
The conference will conclude with a roundtable discussion of Hawaiian leaders discussing the upcoming 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial and Leaders Meeting — the first APEC summit in the United States since 1993.
The roundtable will discuss what role and participation OHA can advocate for on behalf of the Hawaiian community with Hawai'i taking the world stage. Glick said leaders will talk about a meaningful role for Native Hawaiians, "not just as the host culture."