Special to KPUA.net by H.I.E.D.B
Big Island Business Bullish in 2003
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."
In a recent survey conducted in Hawaii by the Business Banking Council and American Savings Bank, 400 businesses surveyed statewide indicated optimism for the future. Fifty-nine percent of businesses polled say the number of employees they presently have is unchanged from the previous year. Hawaii Islandıs particularly robust job growth, which has seen an increase of 2.1 percent in 2002 and 2.9 percent in 2003, would indicate actual employment growth when compared to the stateıs job growth, which was flat in 2002 and up 2.5 percent in 2003.
Confidence in the Stateıs economy improved as companies grew in size. Among large companies, those with one hundred or more employees, 46 percent believe the economy will improve in the coming year.
Across the board, nearly half of the firms reported increases in gross revenues when compared to a year ago. Nearly 25 percent reported revenues had remained the same. Concurrently, two in five businesses polled reported increases in profits before taxes when compared to a year ago. More than 70 percent of retail-related businesses are either very or somewhat optimistic in their outlook for 2004 and more than 75 percent fall in to that category when responding to their outlook for 2005.
Small businesses in Hawaii seem to be having the most difficult time. One in ten say theyıve yet to notice any type of recovery to their business, post 9/11. By comparison, this number is just one percent among the largest firms in the study.
Neighbor Island businesses were the most optimistic. On Hawaii Island, the confidence could be attributed to our strong agricultural based economy where exports have improved annually. The construction industry is booming contributing to job growth and revenues for Hawaii County. In West Hawaii in particular the multi-million dollar homes being built in North Kona and South Kohala, along with the Kohala Coast resorts, are contributing more than 20% of Hawaii Island's property tax base according to a study by the Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference.
Within Hawaii Islandıs visitor industry, direct flights to Kona International Airport have played a role in keeping visitor counts strong in spite of challenges and decreases in Eastbound markets. Longer lengths of stay have helped offset a 1.1 percent decrease in visitor arrivals. The Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) projects a 6.3 percent growth in visitors in 2004 compared to a conservative .2 percent growth projected in 2003.
Increased cruise ship arrivals have also contributed to offset visitor decreases with passenger arrivals projected at nearly 250,000 for 2003. Cruise passenger arrivals may reach more than 400,000 by 2007 and their spending on Hawaii Island could reach $73 million according to First Hawaiian Bankıs Economic Forecast. Through much of the 1990ıs, cruise ship arrivals never exceeded 100,000 passengers on an annual basis.
The strength of Hawaii Islandıs economy is its diversity. More than any other county, Hawaii Islandıs agriculture plays a particularly important role. >From the well-known Kona Coffee industry to the lesser known but growing export of exotic fruits like moya and rambutan, to East Hawaii's strong floral industry, agriculture provides diversity that translates to a stronger economy. The visitor industry, agriculture, real estate, construction, astronomy, the businesses at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) and even our university system at the University of Hawaii in Hilo all combine to provide basis for economic optimism.
Hawaii Island businesses, whether the coffee farm in Kona, the antique shop in Honokaa, the gallery at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visitor activities and adventures such as hiking or horseback riding, an orchid garden in Hilo or a luxury resort on the Kohala Coast should all enjoy positive economic growth and outlook in 2004.
Tune in to KPUA Radio 670AM (Hilo) on the first and third Thursday of each month for HIEDBıs Business Forum. Interesting business leaders in our community share information during this half-hour broadcast from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. On November 6, Waiakea Science Teacher Dale Olive will be the guest.
Mark the Date: The Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) is hosting a professional sales academy, "The difference between selling products and selling solutions." This series of courses for business and organizations is November 6 and 7 at the Royal Kona Resort. Attendees may sign up for all or part of the academy. Contact SBDC at 974-7515.
Focus on the Economy is written for Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Roberta Chu, chair / Paula Helfrich, president. Readers with comments, questions or suggestions should check the web site www.hiedb.org . Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call HIEDB, 966-5416. An archive of Focus on the Economy columns is available on the web site.
See previous Focus On The Economy features by clicking on the links below:
Kona Coffee Pacific Rim Symposium
Perks Up Coffee Festival
Ironman Celebrates 25 Years of Economic Impact
Kona Coffee Pacific Rim Symposium
Perks Up Coffee Festival
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