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EEO Report

Hilo, Hawaii News, Sports, & Information Friday, May 27, 2016

Special to KPUA.net by H.I.E.D.B
Hawaii Island Economic Development Board is a private non-profit organization whose mission is, "To provide and promote private-sector support and expertise for balanced economic growth in Hawaii County, in partnership with federal, state, county and private resources."



A recent announcement by Memphis, Tennessee based FedEx Corporation that a new daily direct flight from Hilo to Los Angeles has begun couldn't have come at a better time. These flights will provide an unexpected boost to Hawaii Island's growing fresh fruit and flower industry. The new flight via a MD-11 cargo plane has a freight capacity of 160,000 pounds. Before this new flight was added FedEx cargo was flown in smaller planes to Honolulu first. There, it was transferred to other flights on larger aircraft bound for the mainland.

The direct flight means more Hawaii Island fresh fruits; plants, flowers, even fish, and other exports can arrive at their intended destinations more efficiently and in less time. Less handling to transfer products between aircraft means the products conceivably arrive in better condition. The new flight now originates in Honolulu, flies to Hilo and then on to Los Angeles and Oakland before returning to Honolulu.

The total value of Hawaii's agricultural exports rose from $132.1 million in fiscal 1997 to $162.7 million in 2001, the last year for which statistics are available. On Hawaii Island, there are over one million acres in agricultural production generating 80% of the state's fresh fruit and the bulk of macadamia nuts, coffee and papaya. As the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture work towards a common goal to increase production in diversified agriculture, the volume of exported products is anticipated to grow exponentially. Growth in agricultural is the one sector economists agree has expansion potential to outpace other sectors of the statešs fledging economy.

Governor Linda Lingle has appointed Sandra Lee Kunimoto as chair of the Department of Agriculture. Kunimoto has expressed that growth of agricultural exports will be one of her priorities. The new FedEx flight is one element of many steps necessary to insure such growth. FedEx has recognized the importance of Hawaii Islandšs agricultural export market and has seen the demand for a "better, faster, quicker" method to get product to market. Hawaii Island has the supply (of product to export), and the demand (for the product elsewhere).

Richard Ha, an executive with Keaau Banana, is excited about the new direct service. "Now we can start planning for opportunities down the road, we can seek out new markets," Ha says. "It will take time, but before, we couldn't even make plans because there was not an efficient method to ship our product in to additional markets."

FedEx, founded in 1971 as Federal Express, has been making sagacious business decisions for more than 30 years. They are the world's largest express transportation company with revenues of $22 billion. 649 aircraft deliver millions of packages and thousands of pounds of freight each business day.

Here on Hawaii Island, we care most about the 160,000 pounds of island-grown product that can be loaded five days a week bound directly for West Coast markets and beyond.

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