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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 18, 2010

14 losing jobs at missile range

Advertiser Staff

LĪHU'E, Kaua'i The Navy contractor that provides base support operations for the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua'i's west side will lay off 14 employees effective April 2, the company said yesterday.

Employees of Manu Kai LLC were informed on Friday that there will be a reduction in staffing and that the individuals who will be laid off will be informed by tomorrow, said Jim Eken, Manu Kai's program manager. The layoffs will be spread throughout the company workforce, he said.

Employees were originally told that as many as 60 employees might have to be laid off, Eken said.

"Manu Kai management has since decided to take the lowest cut possible to minimize the impact on our workforce and ensure continued operational support for our customer," he said.

Manu Kai is in its second year of a $53 million-a-year, 10-year contract with the Navy to operate the missile range facility. Its obligations range from building and grounds maintenance to high-tech assistance with the range's missile testing and other military training, Navy spokesman Jim Murray said.

Manu Kai is a joint venture between Akimeka Technologies, a Native Hawaiian-owned business, and the international company ITT. It is a participant in a U.S. Small Business Administration program that funnels military contracts to small minority-owned or disadvantaged businesses, Murray said when the contract was awarded in 2008.

The Hawai'i-based company's workforce after the layoffs will be 456 employees, Eken said.

The missile range is a testing and evaluation site for U.S. military missile and other defense programs.

About 65 Navy enlisted personnel, 120 civilian Navy workers and up to 650 contractor employees work there, making it one of Kaua'i's largest employers.