By The Board of Directors of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce
The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce has been working hard this legislative session to track legislative measures and advocate for policies that benefit Native Hawaiian businesses and the broader lāhui. As we near the final stretch of the 2022 session, there are two bills in particular that we would like to highlight for our readers.
House Bill 1974 is a measure that would establish the small business assistance initiative within the state procurement office and provides funding for a small business procurement coordinator and small business office.
As we endeavor to fulfill our mission and tackle the challenges Native Hawaiian-owned businesses face, the chamber believes that our members (many of whom are Native Hawaiian small business owners) would greatly benefit if this measure becomes law.
At the federal level, we have seen first-hand the invaluable assistance provided to small businesses that participate in the various federal small business contracting programs, including the 8(a) Business Development, HUBZone, Women-Owned, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Programs. The resources and preferences provided through these programs help small businesses qualify for and obtain federal contracts that they otherwise would not have access to. This enables small businesses to build their experience and capabilities, create jobs, and establish strong businesses.
Other states have successfully created their own state procurement programs that target specific underrepresented and vulnerable groups, similar to those which HB 1974 focuses on. To that end, NHCC has consistently advocated before the legislature that a small business program in the State of Hawaiʻi is long overdue and could provide much-needed support to our local business community.
We have consistently heard concerns from our small business members about challenges with finding, pursuing and qualifying for state contract opportunities. HB 1974 helps to identify these problems and provide solutions, based on metrics and data, to help ensure small businesses are able to successfully obtain state small business contracting opportunities.
Another measure that NHCC has been tracking, and is proud to report on, is House Bill 1600, the state’s supplemental operating budget bill. With the rebounding of the state’s economy and significant increases in tax revenues, the state is anticipating the general fund to be $8,772,816,000 for FY22 and $9,299,185,000 in FY23.
Both the Senate and House versions of this measure include monumental funding for our Native Hawaiian communities which include:
- $10,000,000 in general funds for the Bishop Museum
- $2,000,000 in general funds for ʻIolani Palace
- $600,000,000 in funding to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands
- $487,614,000 for plans, design, construction, land acquisition and equipment for infrastructure for new housing projects in East Kapolei, Waimānalo, Puʻunani, Keokea-Waiohuli, West Maui, Hoʻolehua, Hanapēpē, Laʻi ʻŌpua, Kaʻū and Honomū
- $112,386,000 for down payment assistance and mortgage payment assistance to beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
While the legislature is making historic investments in our Native Hawaiian communities, NHCC firmly believes that we, as a community, need to consistently show up to ensure that this type of funding continues into the future.