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New Chair Leads Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce

Janine / Flickr
Janine / Flickr

Chamber of Commerce Hawaii has just elected a new chairperson.  Banker Gabe Lee is just beginning a two-year term.  Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more on what’s ahead for Lee and the Chamber.

Gabe Lee first joined the chamber in 1992 for the same reason a lot of executives do—to network.  Now, as American Savings Bank’s Executive Vice President for commercial markets, Lee is the Organizing Chair.  He sees his chief responsibility as one of support, helping the chamber’s president and Executive Director, Sherry Menor-McNamara pursue some big goals.

One of these goals is to double the chamber’s membership from one-thousand to two-thousand companies, so that it can speak with a stronger voice on issues affecting all business in Hawaii.  Lee says that while the membership has good representation from large companies and small businesses, it’s the medium sized business that the chamber need to attract.  Often, he says, these companies will join trade associations’ specific to their industry and are so missing a chance to join the larger conversations about issues such as taxation and regulation.

The Chamber has increased its efforts to raise the visibility of Hawaii as a place to do business.  Chief among these has been Hawaii on the Hill, where Hawaii businesses show off their products and services in Washington, D.C.  Efforts such as these are critical as Hawaii has endured a run of bad news from national media as the worst state in which to do business.  Says Lee, “We have to improve our reputation”. 

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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