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Hawaii’s Economy After the Pandemic

AP Photo/Caleb Jones
A woman walks on an empty beach on Oahu's North Shore near Haleiwa, Hawaii, Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

At this point, Governor David Ige’s stay-at-home orders are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. As more attention turns to an eventual economic comeback, both the public and private sectors are gearing up for what may come next.

At the tip of the spear for Hawaii’s post-coronavirus economic recovery are Alan Oshima and Denise Iseri-Matsubara. Oshima represents the private sector, on loan to the state from Hawaiian Electric and now dubbed Hawaii’s economic recovery and resiliency navigator. Iseri-Matsubara comes from state government, where she is interim director of the Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corp.

As we enter week four of the shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, they are looking at two main areas. One is to reopen businesses, to put tens of thousands of people back to work. To prepare for that, they’re depending on data and details from such business organizations as Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and the Neighbor Island chambers, the Hawaii Business Roundtable and the Hawaii Executive Council, as well as industry-specific organizations such as the Hawaii Restaurant Association and the Retail Merchants of Hawaii

The second area concerns the federal relief coming to Hawaii, determining how the state should spend the $900 million it is getting from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. With another $378 million going to the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii’s relief totals $1.28 billion and must be spent by December 31st.

This is more complicated than it sounds, the money is coming in through 40 categories of funds for various sectors. One example is $133 million announced on Tuesday for the state’s airports.

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