Navigating Economic Realities: Insights from the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce

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In the ever-shifting landscape of Hawaiʻi’s economy, understanding the perspectives and experiences of local Native Hawaiian businesses is crucial. Recently, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey among its members to glean insights into the economic climate of the first quarter of 2024. Here, we present a summary of our findings, offering a glimpse into the challenges, triumphs, and strategies employed by Native Hawaiian businesses and businesspeople navigating these economic waters.

Rating the Economy

Respondents were asked to rate the state of the economy compared to previous years. Interestingly, while a significant portion indicated stability (37% reported it as ‘Same as 2023’), there was a notable concern regarding economic deterioration, with 30% indicating it was ‘Worse than 2023.’ This sentiment underscores the complexities of our economic recovery post-pandemic in Hawaiʻi.

Q1 2024 Performance

The survey delved into the performance of Native Hawaiian businesses in the first quarter of 2024. While nearly half of the respondents (48%) reported meeting their expectations, a substantial portion (29%) experienced a downturn. This variation in experiences reflects the nuanced nature of economic revival, with some sectors rebounding more robustly than others.

Employee Recruitment

Finding qualified candidates remains a challenge for many businesses, with 26% of respondents citing difficulty in sourcing suitable talent. Despite this, 69% reported having access to some qualified candidates, indicating a moderate level of availability in the labor market.

Access to Capital and AI Integration

Access to capital, a lifeline for businesses, was a mixed bag, with 29% finding it more difficult than usual. Interestingly, 35% of respondents have begun incorporating AI into their operations, a majority (65%) have yet to explore this avenue, suggesting untapped potential for technological innovation.

Participant Voices

Beyond quantitative data, participant feedback provided invaluable qualitative insights into the economic realities faced by businesses:

  • Adaptation and Resilience: Some businesses showcased resilience, citing increased revenues and workload despite broader economic challenges.
  • Advocacy for Support: Others emphasized the need for governmental support, urging policymakers to alleviate burdens such as taxation and bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Diversification Strategies: Rising inflation and reduced public funding prompted businesses to pivot and diversify their offerings, demonstrating adaptability in the face of adversity.

The survey conducted by the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce offers a multifaceted view of Hawaii’s economic landscape through the eyes of Native Hawaiian businesses people, reflecting both resilience and vulnerability.

As Native Hawaiian businesses continue to navigate uncertainties, collaboration between stakeholders, advocacy for supportive policies, and embracing innovation will be instrumental in fostering sustainable economic growth. Through shared insights and collective action, Hawaiʻi’s business community can chart a course towards a more resilient and inclusive future.