Prince Kūhiō Laid the Foundation

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By The Board of Directors of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC)

What is advocacy and what does it look like for the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce?

As we celebrate Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole’s birthday this month, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature emerges from recess and heads into the first crossover of bills. Itʻs time to see what bills have made it through each chamber and are headed to the other for committee review. The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce continues its commitment to engage our members and the Native Hawaiian business community in the important policy and advocacy work that Kūhiō exemplified.

For us, advocacy starts with collaboration. We convene members, partners and Native Hawaiian-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to prioritize, plan and engage in impacting the ever-changing business ecosystem for Hawaiians.

Starting with strategic planning in 2019 – and a system of member and community engagements since then – we’ve worked on advocacy efforts that include increasing access to needed resources and policy work with elected officials.

In December, we facilitated a discussion at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s 2021 Convention that focused on what Native Hawaiian business owners and entrepreneurs felt were the most important resources needed coming out of the last two years. Access to capital was at the top of the list. More specifically, cash forecasting, leveraging loans to grow business, alternative lending resources, and finding private investment opportunities were the most in demand. Among the top services needed were increasing access to small business accounting, business plan creation, financial planning, taxes, marketing, and market research.

This year, we started with a survey asking for feedback on legislative priorities. The economy, the environment, Native Hawaiian rights and housing were identified as top concerns.

In January, we partnered with Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio to provide legislative training and engage with elected leaders and government officials on top issues like the Red Hill crisis, Senate Bill 3359 which would appropriate $600 million for DHHL, House Bill 1960 repealing GET for nonprofit fundraising revenue, and House Bill 1974 which would increase access to state contract opportunities for small businesses. These are just a few of the advocacy issues we have been working on and we will continue to provide updates through our regular communication channels throughout the legislative session.

How can you get involved? Follow us on social media, subscribe to our digital newsletter and join the chamber as a member! We will continue to provide updated information on our legislative priorities. We will announce opportunities to provide testimony, engage in conversations with subject area experts and elected officials and more. This is just the beginning – join us! E pūpūkahi i holomua, strive forward together!